After months of hype, coins commemorating Iowa’s statehood will be unveiled and put in circulation in a state capitol ceremony this morning. Most Iowans know by now, the quarters feature a one-room schoolhouse with a teacher and students planting a tree under the banner “Foundation in Education.” Iowa became the 29th state admitted into the Union in 1846. Iowa established its first high school in the 1850s, though high schools didn’t become widespread in the U.S. until after 1900. U.S. Mint director Henrietta Holsman Fore is in Des Moines for this morning’s unveiling. Fore says the Mint will be cranking out the Iowa quarters for a couple of weeks yet, after a ten-week run, for a total of up to 450-million coins. Fore estimates 130-million will be taken out of circulation by collectors so she says the Iowa coin will be “a very saught-after quarter.” She says they’ll be around for a long time, too. All U.S. coinage stays in circulation 30 to 35 years, but they can be kept for thousands of years, as coins from the Greek and Roman days are still around. With so many people collecting these state quarters, Fore says many millions of them will be snapped up right away to be preserved.The new Iowa quarter is the fourth quarter of 2004 and it’s the 29th in the 50 State Quarters program. Fore, Governor and Mrs. Vilsack and other dignitaries will be taking part in this morning’s ceremony, which will include free quarters for kids and an actor portraying Grant Wood, the Iowa artist who painted “Arbor Day,” the picture upon which the Iowa coin is based. For more information, surf to “www.usmint.gov”.
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