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New quarters promote education

2004 50 State Quarters Coin Michigan Uncirculated Reverse

Shown above is the reverse of the 2004 Michigan Statehood quarter. Author Patrick A. Heller, who played roles in the planning and release of this coin, has high hopes for next February's America the Beautiful quarter honoring Michigan's Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

Around the beginning of February next year, the America the Beautiful quarter honoring Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore will be released.

The company in Michigan where I work is already preparing to use the release of these coins to foster the use of coins in schools and to stimulate interest by more young numismatists.

This is a continuation of a long-term numismatic promotional campaign we have conducted. Unfortunately, information I received from the United States Mint last week will limit the number of ways that this coin release can be used to promote the use of coins in education and to attract more young numismatists.

For the statehood quarter series from 1999 to 2008, each state was allowed to determine the process for choosing designs.

It was my honor and privilege to be appointed as a member of the Michigan Quarter Commission to work on recommending candidate design ideas for the 2004 Michigan Statehood Quarter. I ended up being the primary author of all five sets of written instructions sent to the Mint to create each of these designs. As the Mint did not want any artwork submitted, I call myself the “unofficial artist” of the 2004 Michigan Statehood Quarter.

I also participated in the 2004 Michigan statehood quarter strike ceremony at the Denver Mint, where I struck coin No. 6, and at the public release ceremony at the State Capitol in Lansing.

Last year, I wrote multiple columns listing free resources for young numismatists and explaining how the use of coins in education could enhance learning (,,,

Last October, I participated in the U.S. Mint’s numismatic forum in Philadelphia, serving on the working group that discussed how to promote coin collecting to students and children.

At the beginning of the just completed school year, my company conducted an unofficial, non-scientific survey of which of the 13 candidate designs for the 2018 America the Beautiful quarter were most popular. A number of schools had their students participate in this survey as part of their educational activities. In our survey, each and every single school preferred design No. 10 (out of 13 candidate designs) as the most popular (33.4 percent) design and design No. 2 (15 percent) as the second most popular.

The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee endorsed candidate design No. 12 and the Commission of Fine Arts had recommended candidate design No. 8 of the 13 possible designs to be used for next year’s Michigan quarter. Their choices were different from our public and school survey results, where I suspect that the advisory groups were more concerned with issues of coinability and artistic balance for the size of the coin’s surface instead of what symbols Michigan people think of when they reflect on their home state.

Since I had not yet seen an announcement of which candidate design had been selected for the 2018 Michigan quarter, I called the U.S. Mint’s press office last Friday to ask about that, and what arrangements might be in the works for a ceremony for the beginning of striking of these coins, or for the public release.

I was told that the final design had been selected, but that the public announcement had not yet been made. To my dismay, I was informed that the U.S. Mint did not conduct ceremonies at the mints for the beginning of striking of the America the Beautiful quarters. Last, there has not yet been any planning done for the public release ceremony of Michigan’s quarter.

For the 2004 Michigan statehood quarter, I was involved in the planning of the public release ceremony, contributing an idea that was used to increase the number of students who attended the event, and even participated in the ceremony. My company covered part of the costs of this event.

I am still hoping to be able to contribute ideas for the public release ceremony that will expand the involvement of students and children as a spark to introducing more of them to the hobby. But I fear that the Mint may be so oriented toward cost-cutting that it may miss taking advantage of this wonderful educational opportunity and fail to promote numismatics among children. I will keep you posted on developments.

Patrick A. Heller was the American Numismatic Association 2012 Harry Forman Numismatic Dealer of the Year Award winner. He was also honored by the Numismatic Literary Guild in 2016 for the Best Dealer-Published Magazine/Newspaper and for Best Radio Report. He is the communications officer of Liberty Coin Service in Lansing, Mich., and writes “Liberty’s Outlook,” a monthly newsletter on rare coins and precious metals subjects. Past newsletter issues can be viewed at Some of his radio commentaries titled “Things You ‘Know’ That Just Aren’t So, And Important News You Need To Know” can be heard at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday and Friday mornings on 1320-AM WILS in Lansing (which streams live and becomes part of the audio and text archives posted at

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News. >> Subscribe today.

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