Two weeks have passed since the United States Mint revealed designs for the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. However, what the US Mint failed to announce then was firm dates for each coin’s release.
Previously, the only quarter that was scheduled with an exact launch date was the strike honoring Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. The coin is due to enter into circulation on April 19, 2010, with an unveiling ceremony hosted at the Hot Springs Park the next day, April 20th.
Collectors anxious for information on the four following coins have only been given a month window by the Mint in which they should appear.
Obviously, this ambiguity is sufficient for the casual collector who may want to order quarter rolls or bags after each release, or perhaps later head to their local bank in the hopes finding some on hand. The lack of a specific date, however, does not help die-hard collectors who might want to plan a trip to the honored park to attend a quarter-launching event.
Of course, the Mint is undoubtedly playing it close to the vest for a couple of reasons. Its entire time-table on these strikes has been compressed compared to a normal release. Typically, once a coin is authorized by Congress, the Mint has at least 18 months to work out the logistics (and that is for a single design). The America the Beautiful coin legislation was only signed into law (Public Law 110-456) on Dec. 23, 2008, giving the Mint limited time, especially when fifty-six locations had to be selected before it could even determine which quarter theme would appear first.
Another factor affecting the Mint’s schedule is planning for the release ceremony at each host location. Aside from the principal Mint attendees, the availability of park facilities as well as possible dignitaries must be considered.
Putting aside for now the thought of these ceremonies, the Federal Reserve (who is responsible for distributing coinage to local banks as they need it) has published the following schedule — as provided by the Mint — for each release:
- Hot Springs America the Beautiful Quarter (Arkansas) – April 19, 2010
- Yellowstone America the Beautiful Quarter (Wyoming) – June 1, 2010
- Yosemite America the Beautiful Quarter (California) – July 26, 2010
- Grand Canyon America the Beautiful Quarter (Arizona) – September 20, 2010
- Mount Hood America the Beautiful Quarter (Oregon) – November 15, 2010
A quick look at the dates shows the Mint is thinking more about collectors who must take off from work and travel. Each release hugs around a weekend or holiday, with 4 of the 5 occurring on Mondays. The Yellowstone release is on a Tuesday, which immediately follows Memorial Day.
Also, the Mint is attempting to stretch out the coin debuts as much as possible. With the exception of the time between the Hot Springs and Yellowstone issues, a window of around 55 days is in place between each coin’s premier. (Only 43 days separate the first two coins.)
The Federal Reserve is quick to point out that each release date is not exactly set in stone, saying: "Please be aware that the availability dates listed here are estimated dates published by the U.S. Mint and may change."
Still, it does give collectors a better picture of what to expect.
2010 is the inaugural year for the America Beautiful Quarters Program that will run until at least 2021. Through the 11 years, the reverse side of quarter-dollars will feature design themes honoring 48 National Parks, two U.S. Fish and Wildlife sites, and six U.S. Forest Service sites. One site has already been selected from each state, D.C. and U.S. territories.
The obverse or heads side of each coin bears a restored version of the historic George Washington portrait, which was first featured on the quarter-dollar in 1932.