Gettysburg, a town synonymous in many people’s minds with the American Civil War, was the site on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, for the United States Mint’s official public launch ceremony of the Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter.
The brand new quarter features the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument on the reverse side and the familiar portrait of George Washington on the obverse. It is the sixth quarter in the America the Beautiful Quarters® that started last year, and it is the first of its kind to honor a Civil War park.
Gettysburg National Military Park is the site of a famous battle of the Civil War fought in July of 1863. It is also where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous speech, known as the Gettysburg Address, in November that year.
The quarter event was held at the park’s Visitor Center, with hundreds of attendees. The United States Mint mascot, Peter the Mint Eagle, as well as students from Lincoln Elementary School in Gettysburg, a Girl Scout Troop, and a Civil War honor guard were present at the ceremony. Local government representatives and special guests were seated near the podium.
Barbara Finfrock of the Gettysburg Foundation served as the Master of Ceremonies. B. B. Craig, the United States Mint Associate Director for Sales and Marketing, and Bob Kirby, the Gettysburg National Military Park Superintendent, co-hosted the special ceremony that started at 11 AM Eastern Time. Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Manbeck Corbett was one of the speakers, and the Gettysburg High School Civil War Ceremonial Brass Band provided live music.
After exchanging pleasantries, Craig construed the history of the battlefield with the design that was selected for the coin.
"The America the Beautiful Quarters Program connects America to our national parks, forests, fish and wildlife refuges, and other national sites," said Craig. ‘The Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter commemorates the pivotal battle fought here in the American Civil War, and it recognizes Gettysburg’s special place among our revered and protected national treasures."
In Kirby’s speech, he noted the souvenir value of the 25-cent piece and its impact on people as it enters circulation.
"We are happy to be honored with this beautiful quarter," Kirby said. "The coin can be a daily reminder of the sacrifices made at Gettysburg and a great way to start a conversation about national parks, national heritage and the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War."
When the ceremony was officially over, a traditional coin exchange began. A specially designed cake featuring the Gettysburg Quarter was served. Children 18 years old and younger in attendance received the new coin for free from US Mint officials while hundreds of adults stood in long lines to exchange their cash for $10 rolls of the new coins.
For collectors, the quarter’s ceremony is the first opportunity to obtain the new coin. Many will take their rolls to the nearest Post Office to have them date stamped. This usually increases their value when they are sold.
Federal Reserve Banks released the Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter into circulation on Monday — local banks can order new quarter-dollars from them and those orders may include Gettysburg quarters. (Banks can not order quarters by a specific location like they could back when the 50 States Quarters program was active.)
The US Mint will not officially release the quarters for direct purchase for another two days. On Thursday, January 27, the US Mint will begin selling 100-coin bags and Two-Roll Sets of them. Several collector products that also include the coins have already been issued, with more to come in 2011.
The America the Beautiful Quarters Program is a collection of coins that honor 56 national sites. Four more 2011 quarters will be released this year. They will honor Glacier National Park in MT, Olympic National Park in WA, Vicksburg National Military Park in MS, and Chickasaw National Recreation Area in OK.
Previous coins in the series have honored Hot Springs National Park in AR, Yellowstone National Park in WY, Yosemite National Park in CA, the Grand Canyon in AZ, and Mt. Hood National Forest in OR. (See release dates.)
The US Mint has not announced when it will issue the five-ounce, three-inch diameter coins featuring the same designs as the new quarters. The Gettysburg National Military Park Silver Bullion Coin intended for investors (learn about the program of National Park Silver Bullion Coins) and the Gettysburg National Military Park Silver Uncirculated Coin intended for collectors must be minted in 2011. Currently, the US Mint’s 2011 silver product schedule lists the collector uncirculated coins with a "To Be Determined" release date.