An image of the Annapolis State House dome will adorn millions of 25-cent pieces circulated across the country next year when it comes time to recognize Maryland on a state commemorative quarter.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) selected the design from among four finalists yesterday. The imprint also will feature leaves from Maryland's state tree, the white oak, and one of the state's lesser-known nicknames, "The Old Line State."
As the seventh in a decade-long series of quarters representing all 50 states -- introduced in the order they ratified the U.S. Constitution or were admitted to the union -- the Maryland coin will hit the streets next March.
Currently, the law authorizing the commemorative quarters calls only for coins honoring states. But Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is pushing to have the program extended to include the District and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Virginia officials, meanwhile, are soliciting residents' input to help them decide which of four designs they should recommend for their own quarter, scheduled for minting in late fall 2000.
The new quarters replace the traditional image of a bald eagle on George Washington's flip side with a symbol or icon of each state. Congress commissioned the series last year to honor our "unique Federal Republic" and to encourage coin collecting -- which the U.S. Treasury estimates could earn it a profit of at least $2 billion over the next 10 years as quarters, which cost less than 25 cents to produce, are taken out of circulation and new coins are produced to replace them.
So far, the series has been a huge success, since the introduction in January of the Delaware coin, featuring the image of Revolutionary War patriot Caesar Rodney on horseback.
The series is so popular, in fact, that the U.S. Mint is now selling the newfangled quarters in bags of 100 or 1,000 for slightly more than face value.
Pennsylvania's quarter, featuring an outline of the state, has been circulating all spring, while New Jersey's, portraying General Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware, is just now making its way from the Federal Reserve and showing up in change machines and pockets along the East Coast.
Maryland's winning design, taken from an entry by Crofton graphic designer William Krawczewicz, beat out suggestions that included Fort McHenry, site of the battle that inspired the "The Star-Spangled Banner"; the Ark and the Dove ships that carried the inhabitants of one of the country's first colonies; and an outline of Maryland with the state shield.
"The governor thought that the State House really exemplified Maryland's rich place in history," said his spokeswoman, Michelle Byrnie. The oldest working statehouse in the country, the Annapolis building briefly served as the nation's capitol, from 1783 to 1784. It also was where Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
Washington also bestowed the name "The Old Line State" on Maryland in praise of the line troops who served in several Revolutionary War battles.
Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) will choose among four designs for Virginia's quarter -- the capitol building at Colonial Williamsburg, the Richmond statehouse, Mount Vernon and the founding of Jamestown in 1607.
The finalists are available for view on the Internet site for the state treasury, www.trs.state.va.us, where people may note their preferences.
CAPTION: The Maryland quarter, one in a series of coins honoring each of the 50 states, will be introduced in March.