Today the U.S. Mint issued the New Mexico quarter with a ceremony in "The Roundhouse", the New Mexico State Capitol Building in Santa Fe. The ceremony was due to start at 11 a.m. and I sauntered in about quarter 'til, café mocha in hand--minimal visible security, no X-ray machines, no one telling me I had to dump my coffee. Wonderful!
The ceremony was short and sweet--the New Mexico Coin Commission was introduced, Mint Director Edmund Moy spoke and presented ceremonial coins to Governor Bill Richardson and his wife, Governor Richardson made brief remarks and applied a giant coin cutout to the New Mexico outline on the U.S. map (which you can see behind the Governor in the photo), and a short historical address was delivered by State Historian Estevan Rael-Gálvez. (Unfortunately, the many assembled schoolchildren had gotten pretty loud and restless at this point, and it was hard to hear most of what he had to say.)
It's worth noting that the Coin Commission included Santa Fe sculptor Glenna Goodacre, the creator of the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington DC as well as the Sacagawea dollar coin. Goodacre suffered a serious head injury last year and has endured a long, slow recovery. It was great to see her back in action!
The Santa Fe All-Stars (bluegrass/country/punk according to their MySpace site) provided the musical entertainment.
Then the Governor, First Lady, Mint Director, and Coin Commission assisted in passing out quarters to all the under-18ers.
Us over-18ers got to buy rolls of freshly minted quarters for $10.
Here's a few facts for you:
500 million New Mexico quarters were made in preparation for today's release--they will never be minted again.
The quarter was called "two bits" after the Spanish dollar (or piece of eight). The dollar was often cut into four quarters, or eight bits, making a quarter "two bits".
The state quarter program has been the most popular coin issue program in U.S. history. Mint Director Moy estimates that there are 47 million collectors of the U.S. state coins.
The New Mexico quarter is the 47th state quarter issued; and the first to contain a Native American symbol. (The Zia sun symbol is featured on the coin; see my post of March 29 for more details.)