State quarters ending with aloha


POSTED: Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NEW YORK » With a big aloha to Hawaii, a new generation of coin collectors will soon shut their books on the U.S. Mint's popular 10-year state quarter program full of fond family memories and a fun dose of history.





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While not terribly rare, considering about 34 billion were produced, the commemorative quarters have captured the frenzied fancy of kids and their parents as they've drawn extended family, tip-collecting waitresses and friendly bank tellers into the hunt.

Coveted by roughly 147 million collectors in the U.S., the coins have also been lucrative for the Mint, bringing in $3.5 billion in pure profit by the end of last year, excluding special-issue sets.

Come November, the program will end with Hawaii as the last state honored.

The Mint issued the quarters in the order each state joined the Union, with five releases a year at intervals of about 10 weeks.

Teachers have also hopped aboard, downloading thousands of free lesson plans on the quarters from the Mint's Web site.

“;I like learning about the state nicknames, what year the state joined the U.S, what year the quarter was made and what the flags look like for each state,”; said Grey Miller, 10, of the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst.

Added his 7-year-old brother, Ted, “;I like it because you can see what's on each state's quarter and talk about why flowers or animals or whatever are on them.”;

Established collectors have also embraced state quarters, said William Gibbs, news editor of the weekly Coin World, which describes itself as the hobby's No. 1 publication.

“;Collectors, quite frankly, were tired of seeing the same old designs decade after decade after decade,”; he said.

With the end of the program comes special complete sets of the quarters, including uncirculated collections with a satin finish and silver proofs.

And collectors looking for a fresh fix should keep eyes peeled next year. That's when quarters will be issued for the left-out District of Columbia, commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.