President Bush today signed into law legislation authorizing a new multi-year coin series of National Park Quarters and super-sized five ounce silver coins beginning in 2010.
With the conclusion of the highly successful 50 State Quarters® Program this year and the six-quarter DC and US Territories program beginning and ending in 2009, the quarter-dollar was set to revert to a static design in 2010.
No longer. The year will now mark the launch of a new series of coins to "provide for a program for circulating quarter dollar coins that are emblematic of a national park or other national site in each State, the District of Columbia, and each territory of the United States." A list of parks shows the potential for a very broad scope of designs.
The America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act (H.R.6184) passed in the House of Representatives July 9, 2008 and unpredictably gained approval in the lame duck session of the Senate on December 10, 2008.
The president’s signature today makes the bill law, and authorizes at least 56 new quarter designs at a rate of 5 per year and lasting for a minimum of 11 years. There is a clause in H.R. 6184 authorizing the Treasury Secretary to extend the series for another round, which could push the program length to whopping two decades.
The quarters will be issued in the order a park or site was designated, with the sites selected within 270 days from today. The Treasury Secretary will make each selection after "consultation with the Secretary of the Interior and the governor or other chief executive of each State with respect to which a coin is to be issued."
Perhaps most interesting to collectors is H.R. 6184’s "Silver Bullion Coin" language. It calls for a gigantic 3.0 inch, 5.0 ounce duplicate of each quarter that is to be struck in .999 fine silver. As a comparison, the popular American Eagle silver coin is 1.598 inches in diameter and contains a single ounce of silver.
Another Senate version of the bill (S.3290), which did not pass, actually called for super-sized, eight ounce quarters. Congress is obviously entertaining idea changes to collector bullion coinage that may be forthcoming in other series or commemoratives.
Upon the completion of the National Parks Quarter coin program, the obverse of the quarter dollar will revert to the past image of President Washington that was in effect before the 50-State quarter program.
The reverse is to depict George Washington crossing the Delaware River prior to the Battle of Trenton.