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Rumors and misconceptions led some astray
By Michele Orzano

Soon we will bid goodbye to the 50 State quarter dollars program. It will be remembered as a program that brought real change to America's circulating coinage in more ways than one.

For those who've been faithfully looking for these little metal discs during the past 10 years, you've had a front-row seat on history. It is indeed something you can share with your kids and grandkids.

Along the way we've heard and refuted many rumors about the program itself and the State quarter designs in particular.

It took several years before collectors and others began to understand the program. And, apparently, to read up on American history.

Most of the so-called jokes and quips subsided quickly though several memorable incidents still come to mind.

It began with the very first State quarter dollar to be released honoring Delaware. Once the 1999 Delaware coin was issued we were treated to endless rounds of the joke about what kind of horse is on the Delaware coin (quarter horse).

Confusion also arose when out-of-state residents thought the Delaware coin depicted Paul Revere (it's actually Delaware patriot Caesar Rodney on horseback).

The same sort of confusion surrounded the Pennsylvania design depicting the statue known as Commonwealth, an allegorical female figure that has stood atop the Pennsylvania Capitol dome in Harrisburg since 1905.

Some people asked us why she was holding a "Nazi-like symbol" in her left hand. The staff in the statue's hand is a ribboned mace topped with an eagle with wings outstretched symbolizing justice.

The design on the 2000 Massachusetts coin briefly generated a rumor that it would be recalled in light of concerns about gun violence. The design depicts Daniel Chester French's Minuteman statue with musket at his side commemorating the battles of Concord and Lexington, preludes to the American Revolution.

The 2001 North Carolina quarter dollar design generated probably the most confusion of any design.

One source of confusion was the motto on the North Carolina coin that reads first flight, a reference to the theme of the state's centennial celebration in 2003 to mark the Dec. 17, 1903, flight by the Wright brothers on the sand dunes at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Some collectors were confused because the motto on the North Carolina license plate states "First in Flight." That motto has been used on the license plates since 1981.

Many people contacting Coin World were sure the North Carolina coin they had was struck in error and thus worth lots of money or was being recalled by the U.S. Mint.

Neither observation was true. No mistake was made on the North Carolina quarter dollar involving the motto. That's exactly what was supposed to be placed on the coin.

The things we learn from coins!


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