Newport, RI, May 21, 2001 — Proving that great things come in small packages, Rhode Island — the smallest state in the Union — became the site of a large national celebration led by Governor Lincoln Almond and U.S. Mint Director Jay W. Johnson marking the debut of the 13th new state quarter. Cannons fired and a parade of vintage yachts circled off the coast as dignitaries, schoolchildren and the general public gathered at Fort Adams State Park in Newport to honor Rhode Island and the release of the newest state quarter.
The quarter is one of the most significant coins ever released according to Jay W. Johnson, director of the U.S. Mint. “The launch of the Rhode Island quarter marks an important moment in American history and a milestone for the 50 State Quarters Program,” Johnson said. “For the first time, the first 13 states, and the 13 original colonies will be commemorated on American circulating coinage. The story of our nation, great symbols of our democracy and significant moments from our history are now represented on U.S. currency.”
“Today is a great day for the State of Rhode Island,” said Almond. “The release of the Rhode Island quarter marks the culmination of a process that involved the public in choosing the themes and, ultimately, the design that will convey our state’s heritage to the rest of the nation. The 50 State Quarters Program has given all Rhode Islanders a wonderful opportunity to share our unique character with America.”
The Rhode Island quarter, the third coin in the 2001 series, honors the “Ocean State.” Featuring a vintage sailboat gliding through Rhode Island’s famous Narragansett Bay, and an image of the Pell Bridge in the background, the design showcases Rhode Island’s most popular sport — sailing. Rhode Island residents chose the sailboat from among three candidate designs during two weeks of voting at libraries, the State House and on the Internet. The sailboat design won by 57 percent of the 34,566 votes cast, and was accepted by Governor Almond in July.
During the launch ceremony, the imagery on the new quarter was recreated through the efforts of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA), the Newport Museum of Yachting, the Herreshoff Marine Museum and the Newport County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Vintage yachts organized by the Museum of Yachting circled in the background as RISCA’s Executive Director, Randall Rosenbaum, who helped to oversee the design selection process for Rhode Island, introduced Governor Almond and Director Johnson. Other ceremony participants included U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy (D–RI), U.S. Representative James Langevin (D–RI), schoolchildren from the William J. Underwood School, the U.S. Navy and the Artillery Company of Newport.
The release of the Rhode Island quarter marks the end of production of the North Carolina quarter, released in March 2001. Collectors who wish to purchase rolls and bags of Rhode Island quarters can purchase them through the U.S. Mint Web site at www.usmint.gov during a special 72–hour sale, beginning May 21, 2001 at noon (EST), and ending on May 24, 2001 at noon.
The new quarters are manufactured at both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. Together, they produce all legal tender U.S. circulating coins before shipping them to the Federal Reserve for distribution through the banking system. The Federal Reserve orders new quarters to ensure an adequate supply to meet the needs of commerce as commercial banks demand.
Launched in 1999, the U.S. Mint’s 50 State Quarters Program is a 10–year initiative honoring each of the nation’s states in the order that they joined the Union or ratified the Constitution. Each quarter is produced for only about 10 weeks, never to be produced again. U.S. Mint research shows that well over 125 million Americans are collecting the 50 State Quarters.
The 50 State Quarters products including the just released collectible proof sets that feature the five quarters of 2001 are adding to the collecting fun. These products and more information about the 50 State Quarters Program are available through the U.S. Mint’s Web site at www.usmint.gov or by calling 1–800–USA MINT.