The Feb. 21 launch ceremony for New Hampshire’s 2013 quarter dollar
was held at a site beloved by the state’s inhabitants — White Mountain
The launch ceremony was held at Plymouth State University in
Plymouth, N.H., in the heart of the White Mountains, eight miles from
Campton, a small town where the White Mountain National Forest
headquarters is located. The venue was Hanaway Hall.
As is Mint policy, the staff of the national forest was called
upon to make arrangements with local and regional people to attend,
including schoolchildren. It was more of a White Mountain National
Forest event than a U.S. Mint event. It, like other launches, was
truly “down home.”
Mint staffers conducted a coin forum in Campton the previous
evening, with general discussions. Eighteen people were on hand. I was
not able to attend.
I left Wolfeboro, N.H., at 8:45 on Thursday morning, Feb. 21,
taking David Owen, our town manager, along for the ride. In about an
hour we arrived at the university and went to Hanaway Hall, where most
of the seats were already filled — with hundreds of eager elementary
schoolchildren from the area.
The Mint had reserved seats for us in the front row, and we sat
with David Sundman, who was on hand to represent Littleton Coin Co.
Dave Owen was glad to meet Dave Sundman (lots of Daves here!) as he
has been a Littleton client for many years.
Members of the Nashua (N.H.) Coin Club were also in attendance —
the “numismatic delegation,” so to speak.
Everyone was set to witness a historic event. Children are, of
course, the building blocks of the future and Mint ceremonies
typically include them. However, unlike the 2000 State quarter launch
in New Hampshire in which the number of children participating was
rather modest, now they nearly filled an entire auditorium.
On the stage at one side was the Plymouth Elementary School Band,
which began the program with a selection of music. On the other side
of the stage were the fourth graders from the Campton Elementary
School, who led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by
the National Anthem.
The ceremony begins
Shortly after 10:30 am, Bill Dauer of the National Forest Service,
went to the podium and introduced guests and gave opening remarks. It
was evident from the outset that the White Mountain National Forest is
more than just a tourist attraction to be visited on occasion. Indeed,
it is a part of New Hampshire life. I know that, of course, having
lived in New Hampshire for many years.
The White Mountain Range, dominated by Mount Washington at 6,288
feet, which has an observatory at the top and prides itself as having
the worst weather on Earth, includes several dozen peaks of various
heights. In and among the valleys are many different towns.
Accordingly, the White Mountains are just about everywhere in the
North Country, so to speak.
Selected for depiction by designer Phebe Hemphill was Mount
Chocorua, located in the town of Tamworth, rising above Lake Chocorua
in a picturesque setting. With its rocky outcrop on top and distinct
appearance, the mountain has been a favorite for artists,
photographers and hikers for a long time. It is well memorialized in
White Mountain art — a genre somewhat related to the Hudson River
School — nice depictions of landscapes with luminescent aspects. In
the early 20th century, a two-story Peak House hotel rested on the
slopes of Mount Chocorua, but it blew down in a terrific windstorm in
1917 and was never replaced.
Hemphill and the other artists who submitted designs were not
given a direction but were shown many examples of White Mountain art
from which they could select favorites. Everyone agrees that Chocorua
was a great choice.
The first speaker was Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, D-N.H., one of New
Hampshire’s two representatives to Congress.
Rep. Kuster told of her own experiences in the White Mountains and
her love of New Hampshire, and set the scene for a series of talks in
which everyone paid tribute to the White Mountains, not from notes or
from tourist guides, but from personal experience. In a word, the
White Mountains are loved.
Then came remarks from representatives of Sens. Jeanne Shaheen,
D-N.H., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., after which Tom Wagner, White
Mountain National Forest supervisor, acquainted the audience with the
Richard Peterson at the podium
Acting Mint Director Richard Peterson came to the podium next. In
each of the State quarter dollar launches as well as the America the
Beautiful quarter launches, a top official of the Mint is featured.
The New Hampshire quarter dollar was a remarkable exception to the
frequently canned comments by Mint officials at coin launch events. It
turns out that Peterson, retired Navy officer, used to be with the
Portsmouth Naval Base in New Hampshire, a headquarters for submarines.
He and his family lived in the Granite State, enjoyed the surroundings
from the seacoast to the White Mountains, and still reminisce about
their experiences. His remarks were more than just general — he even
named his favorite restaurants.
He then shifted to numismatics, telling of President Theodore
Roosevelt’s desire in 1904 to enlist America’s most accomplished
sculptor and engraver, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, to redesign the entire
spectrum of American coinage from the cent to the $20 double eagle.
The sculptor accepted the challenge and set about work in his studio
in Cornish, N.H.
“Who was that sculptor?” Peterson asked the audience. “Coin
collectors are not allowed to answer!”
Someone in the distance said, “Saint-Gaudens.” Peterson continued
with his reminiscences.
Free quarters for youth
Next in the program was Maggie Hassan, newly installed governor of
New Hampshire, who told of her love of New Hampshire and delineated
some of the policies she hoped to implement during her governorship.
This part could have been a “political” speech given anywhere. Then
she transitioned to the subject at hand, the White Mountains, and told
of her experiences and love for them.
The ceremony then concluded, after which Rep. Kuster, Gov. Hassan
and Acting Mint Director Peterson went into the audience, each
carrying a sack of individual quarters to hand out into hundreds of
schoolchildren’s outstretched hands. A happier scene could not be imagined!
Each coin had a P Mint mark. Each one that I saw could be called a
gem in condition — hardly any contact marks. The coins were as
brilliant and beautiful as the day they were struck.
As noon approached, David Owen and I headed toward the exit,
stopping in the lobby at tables arranged for by the Meredith Village
Savings Bank in cooperation with the Treasury Department, where $10
bank-wrapped rolls of the new quarter dollars were available — a
minimum of one roll and a maximum of 10 rolls per person. Individual
coins were not offered. I bought five rolls of quarters, and gave most
of them to Owen and asked him to give them out to the Wolfeboro town
employees (of which there are 82).
Nearby to the distribution of quarters, Littleton Coin Co., whose
headquarters is less than an hour’s drive to the north, had a display
set up, and gave away to all the children who wanted them specially
packaged quarters plus album-boards to collect the America the
Beautiful quarters. The exhibit was thronged. ■