When the state quarter program began in 1999, nobody knew if collector enthusiasm could be maintained for 50 coin designs issued over a span of 10 years. The 1992 Canadian program on which it was based was a success, but it lasted only a year and honored just 12 provinces and territories.
What would happen over 10 years in the United States nobody knew.
I didn’t know the answer either. I was enthusiastic about the program. I believed it would help inspire people to collect coins because the decision to collect is often taken following some sort of prompt given by receiving a specific piece in change. The more quarter designs out there for people to receive, the more possible prompting moments can occur.
But like everyone, I wondered if interest could be sustained for 10 years. It seemed like a large challenge. Kids grow up. Adult interests and finances change. One thing I did recommend was that the U.S. Mint continue to treat each launch ceremony as if it were the first. The Mint probably needed no comment from me to do this, but I am pleased to say that when the Wyoming state quarter is released officially in Cheyenne at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, Mint Director Ed Moy will join Gov. Dave Freudenthal and other dignitaries at the Civic Center.
The planned event is worthy of the first issue.
There will be just six ceremonies more after this event in Cheyenne, one more this year for Utah, and five next year. Then the program is over. Who would believe 10 years can go so fast?
There are not enough congratulations to go to all the people who have made the state quarter program such a success. But the Mint should be recongized as an institution for giving every state its opportunity to celebrate its history as if it were the first state so honored.
On Friday, it is the turn of the great state of Wyoming. Congratulations. The nation’s collectors will be watching.