Hawaii's new bling


POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

DENVER » Gov. Linda Lingle led a delegation to the Denver Mint for the striking of the first of that state's commemorative quarters - and the last in a 10-year series commemorating the 50 states.

Hawaii's coin features King Kamehameha I stretching a hand toward the eight major Hawaiian islands. Inscribed is the state motto, “;The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness,”; in the Hawaiian language. It will go into circulation Nov. 3.

“;It's our vision for Hawaii's future and it shows our respect for all the land,”; Lingle said of the quarter's design and motto. “;And it also shows that although there are many islands, we're united as a state.”;

Delegation members, including Lingle, state dignitaries and coin collectors, lined up to push a button on a stamp press that spit out individual quarters. Many had their picture taken while flashing the shaka.

For coin collector Rock Villaruel, a guest of design commission member Gregory Hunt, yesterday's event fulfilled a boyhood dream. Villaruel bought his first collecting magazine after becoming interested in coins at age 12. A trip to San Francisco's historic mint years ago ended in disappointment. It was boarded up.

“;This is my first time visiting a mint, and it's about time,”; the 48-year-old Villaruel said.

Kamehameha, who ruled in the early 1800s and unified the islands, was picked instead of designs that featured a hula dancer, Diamond Head on the main island of Oahu, and a surfer modeled after a young Duke Kahanamoku. For Hunt, the chosen coin is about reminding people that Hawaii is part of America.

“;Sometimes people forget that we are part of the United States,”; Hunt said. “;Visitors to the islands say, 'You know, back in the states,' and we remind them, 'You mean, back on the mainland.”;'

Lingle said Hawaii's coin will be very popular with coin collectors because it's the last of the state coins. The first, Delaware's, was released in 1999.

“;And it's a coincidence, but it's coming up on our 50th anniversary as a state, we're the 50th state and the 50th quarter,”; said Lauren Kamei, a freshman at the University of Hawaii at Manoa who served on the commission.

More than 34 billion of the state commemorative quarters have been produced. They were released at 10-week intervals in the order the states were admitted into the Union.

The coins have been snapped up by roughly 147 million collectors in the U.S., bringing in $3.5 billion in profit by the end of last year, excluding special-issue sets. The coins are also produced in Philadelphia.

Mint officials expect about 520 million of the Hawaii quarter to be produced.