Now that they've gone through all the states, the US Mint is gearing up to release 56 new commemorative quarters called the "America the Beautiful" series starting in 2010 and running through 2021. The coins will go in date order of when the various parks, memorials and destinations were established, which means the first one up is Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas (which was actually designated before Yellowstone).
No doubt collectors will abound and you'll soon find collector's boards on As Seen on TV commercials. The AP reports that U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy has said 147 million people collected state quarters ranging from Delaware in 1999 to Hawaii in 2008, making the program very popular. But Vance the Coin Specialist from Marblehead, Mass. says it's going to be "a very, very long time" before any of these commemorative quarters are worth anything more than 25 cents. "Think about it as if you were living in 1850, and it's going to take until now before your coin is considered rare," he says.
The mint has yet to release the designs of the quarters (there will no doubt be much fanfare for that...), but in the meantime, we offer you photos of the first ten locations to be honored, to spark your imaginations. Send us your suggestions for designs (either your flowery prose or attach a sketch). And we'll see if we can influence the government for you!
National Park Quarters
In the US Mint's new set of 56 commemorative quarters honoring National Parks, Arkansas' Hot Springs will go first, in 2010. That will cause history trivia buffs some consternation. Click through our gallery to see the order of the first quarters to be released, and send us your thoughts on what the quarters should look like!
Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register / MCT