About 3,500 people were treated to band music, singing, a Paiute prayer, brief speeches and - for children - free, freshly minted quarters at an event Tuesday marking circulation of the first of more than 600 million "Nevada quarters."
U.S. Mint officials brought 1,500 of the quarters, which depict
three wild horses galloping across a valley with the sun rising
over snowcapped mountains, to give away to anyone under age 18.
Nevada State Bank staffers showed up with an armored car loaded
with 50,000 more uncirculated quarters, for sale in $10 rolls.
"Wild horses - one end bites and the other kicks. Perfect for
Nevada," Mark Twain impersonator MacAvoy Lane told the cheering
crowd, paraphrasing a line from Twain who got his start writing for
a living in this state.
David Lebryk, acting director of the U.S. Mint, called the new
coin "a work of art," adding that it would serve as "a small
ambassador" for Nevada throughout the country. He said up to 650
million would be minted as part of the Mint's 50 State Quarters
State Treasurer Brian Krolicki, who oversaw the effort to design
and choose the new quarter, said about 60,000 people decided in an
online poll last May to choose the wild horses over other designs.
More than half the nation's wild horses are in Nevada.
Other finalists included a desert bighorn sheep, an old-time
miner, ancient Indian artifacts and two pickaxes with sagebrush and
After the ceremony, Krolicki, joined by Lebryk, Gov. Kenny Guinn
and others, handed out thousands of the new coins to children who
formed long lines snaking around the Nevada Capitol grounds. Adults
lined up in front of the armored car to buy rolls of the new
quarters. Limited edition quarter sets also were sold.
Krolicki's daughter, Kate, 7, joined with her father in handing
out coins, after falling off a skittish Pony Express horse during
part of the ceremony. Kate Krolicki, who wasn't hurt in the fall,
also got to press the button on a press at the U.S. Mint in Denver
earlier this month, striking the first coin destined for public
Nevada became the 36th state on Oct. 31, 1864, and its quarter
is the 36th in the 50 State Quarters program.
Each state has been permitted to choose its own design, although
Treasury Secretary John Snow wouldn't allow gambling symbols or any
design that showed a commercial enterprise.