(The Washington Post)

The federal government began last week to release millions of shiny metallic images of an old house in the Anacostia neighborhood of Southeast Washington and the bearded man who was its longtime resident.

The man is Frederick Douglass, the 19th-century orator, statesman, abolitionist and runaway slave. His house, on W Street SE, is a national historic site operated by the National Park Service. The images are on a 25-cent piece being issued as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program.

On the coin’s front is the familiar image of George Washington. The other side shows Douglass at a desk with the house in the background. That side also bears Douglass’s name and the words “District of Columbia” and “E Pluribus Unum.”

On April 3, the U.S. Mint said it began taking orders for rolls and bags of the coins. Some will be released into general circulation.

That would enable people all over the United States, and indeed wherever U.S. coins are saved or spent, to see the images of the equal rights advocate and the house where he lived from 1878 until his death in 1895.

Reverse side of Frederick Douglass National Historic Site Quarter. (U.S. Mint)

The Mint said a celebration was held Tuesday to mark the coin’s formal launch.

A 2009 quarter honoring the District in an earlier series showed Duke Ellington.