Gettysburg The Face of New Quarter, Erin James, The Evening Sun, Seeptember 14, 2009.
So popular was the 50-state quarter series of 1999-2008 that Hanover coin dealer George Little said he could barely keep collection books on the shelves.
"We were selling state quarter books so fast we couldn't keep them in stock," said Little, who owns Little's Coins and Jewelry on Broadway. "They were very, very popular." That's hardly the reaction Little said he expects will be generated by the U.S. Mint's new America the Beautiful Quarters program - a 12-year initiative that will feature a national park or historic site in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.
This time around, the Hanover coin collector said he expects dust is all that will be collecting on the books. "My opinion is that they've just overdone it," he said. "It's definitely a repeat of the state (series)." Locally, however, Little said there's a little more hope for the series. That's because Gettysburg National Military Park - the 6,000-acre site of the Civil War's bloodiest battle - will be featured on Pennsylvania's coin. The coin featuring Gettysburg will be released in 2011. Specific release dates have yet to be announced, and designs have not been unveiled. As it turns out, this won't be the first time the Gettysburg battlefield has been the subject of a United States coin - a fact that even park officials were surprised to learn this week.
News that Gettysburg made the cut as Pennsylvania's representative national park in the America the Beautiful series was announced Wednesday and made headlines Thursday.
That same day, park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon said she was approached by a visitor to the new museum. The man said he'd heard the news and asked Lawhon if she knew about the 1938 half dollar that was minted to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. Their conversation was cut short, but Lawhon said she was intrigued and returned to her office to do some research of her own. What she found is that Gettysburg was in fact the subject of a commemorative coin more than 70 years ago.
According to www.coincommunity.com - and various other coin-related Web sites - the 1938 half dollar was authorized in 1936 by the Pennsylvania State Commission, which sought to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle and the reunion of a few dozen living veterans from both sides of the war. The gathering was known as the Blue and Gray Reunion, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Eternal Peace Light Memorial at the same event.
About 50,000 coins were originally minted, but fewer than 30,000 survived the decision of the Philadelphia Mint to melt those that proved difficult to sell. Lawhon said park officials were pleased to learn that Gettysburg would be the subject of the new coin. The park will also have an opportunity to provide input on the design, though "we don't have anything in mind at this point," Lawhon said. For Gov. Ed Rendell, the decision to recommend that Gettysburg represent Pennsylvania on the United States Mint's latest quarter series was hardly a difficult one, said Rendell spokesman Gary Tuma.
Gettysburg is both the most visited Civil War site in the country and one of the state's most popular tourist attractions, Tuma said. Lower on the governor's list of Pennsylvania parks to be considered were Valley Forge, Independence Mall and the Delaware Water Gap, Tuma said. But Gettysburg was the governor's preferred choice, he said. "It's as historically significant as any location in the United States," Tuma said.
Text Source: Evening Sun
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