A crowd estimated at over 1,000 recently attended the US Mint’s official launch ceremony for the 2010 Hot Springs National Park Quarter which was hosted by the park itself.
Just steps from the entrance to the Hot Springs National Park headquarters building, United States Mint Director Ed Moy was joined by National Park Service Midwest Regional Director Ernie Quintana and Hot Springs National Park Superintendent Josie Fernandez in releasing the new strike.
"This has always been a special place, its been a magical place, its been a place of hope and peace and beauty," US Mint Director Moy commented about the Hot Springs Park at the official release.
"That’s what we wanted to capture in the design of the first coin issued under the America the Beautiful Quarters Program from the United States Mint."
The Hot Springs Quarter serves as the debut piece for the new America the Beautiful Quarters Program which is set to contain fifty-six new quarter-dollars during its run through to 2021. Each coin will showcase a different site of national interest found within the country and could be a national park like the Hot Springs Quarter, or might be a national forest, national monument, national wildlife refuge, etc.
Only one site was chosen from each state, the District of Columbia and the five territories of the United States which totals the aforementioned fifty-six new designs.
On the reverse (tails side) of the Hot Springs strike, a thermal spring fountain can be seen in front of the headquarters building – exactly the same scene attendees of the release ceremony were treated to. The design was created by Don Everhart and sculpted by Joseph Menna.
All of the quarters in the series will have a portrait of George Washington, the first President of the United States, on their obverse (heads side). Washington has been featured on the quarter dollar since 1932 with that design completed by John Flanagan. Flanagan’s original work was slightly modified by William Cousins for this new series.
Hot Springs itself was chosen as the inaugural coin for the program since it was the first site given protection by the federal government for continued public use back in 1832.
"The idea to preserve and conserve natural resources for future generations was born here," Hot Springs National Park Superintendent Josie Fernandez stated as an explanation for the creation of what would become the national park.
"The people of the territory of Arkansas petitioned the federal government to protect the Hot Springs of the Ouachita and that’s what brings us to today. Its the first land ever set aside for protection in perpetuity for the American People."
Attendees of the ceremony were allowed to exchange cash for rolls of the new strikes immediately following its completion. The snaking lines that formed to accomplish the exchange were periodically penetrated by Mint and Park officials who were handing out a free quarter to all the children who attended.
Those who could not attend the ceremony were, and still are, able to purchase quarter bags and rolls directly from the U.S. Mint.
Anxious collectors must now wait over a month for the next coin in the program to appear. The Yellowstone National Park Quarter is due out in early June with the Yosemite National Park Quarter following in July. Then in September the Grand Canyon National Park Quarter debuts with the Mount Hood National Forest Quarter rounding out this years issues in November.
America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins will also be issued this year, featuring the same designs as the quarters. However, these coins are struck from .999 fine silver, weigh 5 ounces and have a diameter of 3 inches. The Hot Springs Silver Bullion Coin is expected to be released in mid to late summer.
Since the coin is bullion, the U.S. Mint will not sell them directly to the public but instead to its network of authorized dealers who in turn will resell them for a small amount over the current spot price of silver.