The 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, will be commemorated on a new quarter to be minted next year in honor of Virginia.

The Jamestown quadricentennial was chosen today by Gov. James G. Gilmore III (R) from among four finalists, to be shown on the reverse (tails) side of the 25-cent piece, one in a series that eventually will cover all 50 states.

The Jamestown design, which depicts the three sailing ships -- the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery -- that arrived in Jamestown in 1607, was chosen over illustrations of the Colonial Williamsburg capitol, Jefferson's design of the state capitol in Richmond and George Washington's home at Mount Vernon.

Gilmore made the selection after receiving thousands of comments from the public about the four proposals.

"America's colonial history began at Jamestown in 1607, with the establishment of America's first permanent English settlement," Gilmore said in a statement. (St. Augustine, Fla., the first Spanish settlement, was founded in 1565.)

"Jamestown also represents the beginning of the oldest continuous legislative body in this hemisphere, which we know today as the Virginia General Assembly."

Gilmore said "these coins will circulate throughout the U.S. for years to come and will stand as a symbol to all Americans that the courage and perseverance of our forefathers have granted us the freedoms we all enjoy today."

Jamestown, on a peninsula in the James River about nine miles southwest of Williamsburg, was founded on May 13, 1607.

Five states will be featured each year, in the order in which the states ratified the Constitution or entered the Union, as part of a "50 States Commemorative Coin Program" of the U.S. Mint.

The program began this year, with coins representing, in order, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut. As the 10th state, Virginia's coin will be minted next year, after those of Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina and New Hampshire.

Debbie Padgett, spokeswoman for the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, said the winning design was "a group effort" among several people at the foundation, which is a state agency.

"This provides an unparalleled opportunity to showcase Virginia's contributions to the building of the United States and to make the quadricentennial a truly national celebration," said Stuart W. Connock, chairman of the Celebration 2007 steering committee.

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) chose an image of the State House dome in Annapolis this month for the Maryland coin, which is scheduled to be issued in March.

The new quarters replace the image of a bald eagle on the flip side of the coin, which will retain a likeness of George Washington on the other side.

Congress commissioned the series last year to honor the states and to encourage coin collecting.

CAPTION: Ships that carried Jamestown settlers will adorn the quarter.