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Making Cents - All the news that's fit to mint! - What's news at the United States Mint!

Welcome to the winter 2003 issue of Making Cents, the online newsletter that tells you what's new and striking at the United States Mint.  Be sure to check back every 3 months for a new issue.

A Flurry of Firsts for 2003

This Winter will be exciting at the Mint!  During January, the first month of the new year, the first new quarter of the new year will be released.  The quarter represents, of course, the state of Illinois.  With its release, the 21st state and the 21st quarter in the 50 State Quarters Program greet the 21st Century with an image of the young Abraham Lincoln leaving his farm work in Illinois for legal work and, later, the presidency.

Another "first" for former president Lincoln:  this will be the first time an American president appears on two different coins circulating at the same time (the cent and the quarter).  (Washington appeared on both sides of the New Jersey quarter, but Lincoln beat him to that "first" as well:  his statue is just barely visible inside the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the penny.)

And another first in 2003:  the First Flight commemorative coin!  Even though the coin won't come out until the summer quarter, we can look forward to its debut.  This coin is being released in 2003 to celebrate exactly 100 years since the Wright Brothers' first successful airplane flight in 1903.  Isn't it hard to believe that airplanes have flown through our skies for only 100 years?  How time flies!

Obverse of the Illinois quarter

Obverse of the penny

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Quarter of the Quarter

Actually, there are two new quarters during the winter quarter.  One is the Illinois quarter, part of the "flurry of firsts" we talked about above.  The second is the Alabama quarter.  Although it's the second quarter of the year, it's the first circulating coin to use Braille writing, a 3-dimensional code created to help blind people to read by touch.  The Braille letters spell the name "Helen Keller," a famous woman from Alabama who was both deaf and blind but was also a writer and lecturer.  Be sure to watch for the Alabama quarter's release!

Obverse of the Alabama quarter

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A Game to Remember

icon: Coin Memory Game

Flip is playing around again, and that's good for us!  He has updated the Coin Memory Game and made it even more fun.  You play the new version by matching the coin images as fast as you can (as before), but now you can try to beat your own score—after each round, you can see your shortest time for the session.  Remember to check out the Coin Memory Game in the "Games" section!

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Old Mint, New Displays

Did you know that there used to be a Mint branch in New Orleans, Louisiana?  The New Orleans Mint used an "O" mint mark and struck coins during two periods:  1838 to 1861 and, after the Civil War, 1879 to 1909.

Why a mint in New Orleans?  That's because nearby Georgia was the site of America's first gold rush, even before the famous California gold rush of 1849.  Moving the raw gold ("ore") to Philadelphia was a long and dangerous trip in those days, so a mint in New Orleans made sense (as well as cents!).  But now the building that used to house the New Orleans Mint is home to part of the Louisiana State Museum.

Since coins aren't made there anymore, the building has lots of room for displays and exhibits.  The displays shed light on the history of coin making, jazz music, and the state of Louisiana itself.

New exhibits feature mint items actually used in New Orleans and other branches in those early days—scales, calculators, automatic weighing machines...and a machine called a "rotary ingot machine" that John Leonard Riddell invented while he was a melter and refiner at the Mint.

Through the hard work of several people, items were allowed to be taken out of Mint storage vaults and displayed in the museum.  And even more people have gotten interested in the museum since the Louisiana quarter was released last year.  Sounds like it's worth a visit!

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New Orleans Mint Crossword

Like what you've learned?  Test your knowledge with our New Orleans Mint Crossword

Test your answers with the Answer Key

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