29 May 2009

DC and US Territories quarters

The last five coins in the series of quarters commemorating the fifty states were released last year. What didn't get a lot of press, though, was that six more quarters are being released this year, for the District of Columbia and five US Territories. I found my first one, a DC coin, this morning.

The District of Columbia was established on 16 Jul 1790 to serve as the capital of the new United States, as authorised by Section Eight of the First Amendment. On 9 Sep 1791,the federal city to be constructed within the district was named in honour of George Washington, and the district was named the Territory of Columbia. The obverse of the coin, released on 26 January, shows jazz musician Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (29 Apr 1899–24 May 1974), who was born and raised in Washington DC, along with the inscription "Justice For All."

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, consisting of the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands and keys, became a US territory after the Spanish-American War, in 1898. The coin, released on 30 March, shows a view of the sea from a sentry box in Old San Juan, hibiscus flowers, and the inscription "Isla del Encanto" (Isle of Enchantment).

Guam also became a US territory after the Spanish-American War. The coin, released on 26 May, shows a map of the island of Guam, along with a sailing vessel known as a flying Proa and a Latte, a stone pillar used in ancient houses. The accompanying inscription reads "Guåhan Tånó I Man Chamorro" (Guam, Land of the Chamorro).

American Samoa has been a US territory since 1899, when the Tripartite Convention divided the Samoan archipelago between Germany and the United States. The coin, scheduled for release on 27 July, shows an ava bowl, a whisk and a staff, items used in special Samoan ceremonies, with a background image of the coastline. The inscription reads "Samoa Muamua Le Atua" ("Samoa, God is First").

The US Virgin Islands were purchased from Denmark, which had held them since the 17th century, in 1917. The coin, to be released on 28 September, shows a bananaquit (Coereba flaveola), a yellow elder (Tacoma stans) flower and a Tyre palm (Coccothrinax alta); in the background is an outline of the three main islands, St Croix, St John and St Thomas.

The Northern Mariana Islands have been administered by the United States since 1945, as part of the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; commonwealth status was achieved in 1978. The coin, scheduled for release on 30 November, shows a Latte amongst coconut trees, wild plants, native birds, and a proa; beneath these is a Carolinian mwar (head lei), composed of plumeria, ylang ylang, peacock flower and teibwo (Pacific basil).

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