August 29, 2014

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine Quarter Launch Ceremony

On September 13th, 2013, various dignitaries, along with hundreds of Maryland elementary and middle school children, met on the grounds of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland to launch the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine “America the Beautiful” quarter dollar. The launch was timed to coincide with the 199th anniversary of the attempt by the British Navy to invade Baltimore by way of the Chesapeake Bay, and began a weekend-long event commemorating Defender’s Day in Baltimore. During the event, I was seated near several current and former members of the Maryland State Numismatic Association (MSNA), including MSNA President Frank Murphy, as well as U.S. Mint Deputy Director Richard Peterson.

The event was led by Master of Ceremonies James C. Bailey, one of the park rangers stationed at the shrine. Also in attendance was Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine Superintendent Tina Cappetta, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersberger (representing Maryland’s 3rd and 2nd Districts, respectively), Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and Rosie Rios, Treasurer of the United States, who each made speeches about the importance of the fort to the nation during the War of 1812, and of how the events of that battle shaped our national anthem, written by Francis Scott Key while he was detained on board the British ship HMS Tonnant. A delegate from U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings’ office was also in attendance, as the congressman was unable to attend in person.

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Treasurer Rios said, “The defense of Fort McHenry was the watershed event in the War of 1812, and this new quarter captures the significance of that victory and connects all Americans who use it to Fort McHenry and its honored place in American history.”

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The ceremony concluded with Treasurer Rios presenting a plaque to Superintendent Cappetta containing two Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine Quarters struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints on the first day of production at each location, followed by all the dignitaries pouring two buckets of the new quarters into a large wooden box.

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After the official ceremony, the school children were each given one uncirculated Fort McHenry quarter, handed out by Senator Cardin, and Representatives Sarbanes and Ruppersberger, among others. In addition, a local bank had set up a tent with tellers who would exchange currency for rolls of the new quarters, up to $100 per person. I obtained one roll, then drove to the nearest U.S. Post Office to have it postmarked to certify that it was from the ceremony. Fortunately, that particular Post Office had been designated as the official location to have the rolls certified. I had the roll stamped and then postmarked by a Post Office official as well. It was a great ceremony; my personal highlights were having a short conversation with Treasurer Rios, followed by receiving an invitation from the Mint for a tour of the production facilities in Philadelphia.

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Comments

  1. Les,

    I had no idea these rolls could be certified like that! Wish I’d known before the ceremony.

  2. Lord Blechenstein says:

    Can the author go into more detail as to how the roll was postmarked? Did they just stamp the paper roll with the date as if one can mail it that way or what? Thanks!

  3. Les Peters says:

    There is an individual, Chuck was his first name (didn’t catch his surname), who has the official stamp for each launch ceremony. He is not associated with the Post Office, but did not appear to be a Mint employee either (I will have to dig into this further). Based on conversations I had while waiting for Chuck to arrive, he has been at previous launch ceremonies, and stated he was going to be at Mount Rushmore later this year.

    Previously, I have gone to the nearest Post Office (which the location Chuck was at happened to be), purchased sufficient stamps to put one on each roll, and had a Post Office employee postmark it with their stamp (which I did on my roll in Baltimore along with Chuck’s stamp) just to be on the safe side.

  4. Sith says:

    CO, Did you make it to the ceremony?

  5. Sith,

    Yes I went to it. A friend took some pictures and I’m trying to get him to upload them so I can post them on my blog.

    I may just go ahead and do a brief write-up anyway tonight about the experience.

    I am wondering if I didn’t meet Les in line too without knowing who he was. I also spoke to an individual there who told me and my friends that he’d been to every launch ceremony as part of his business. :-)

  6. Les says:

    I was in a blue polo and khaki pants. I obtained my rolls after most of the crowds had dissipated, and was 7th or so in line at the Post Office.

  7. Chuck Taylor says:

    I am the Chuck (Taylor), the individual who does the official Pictorial Cancellations for each of the America The Beautiful Quarter Launches. Mount Rushmore will be #20. The official Pictorial Cancellations is applied to each roll of launch quarters, or other event collectible items to add collectibility. First Class postage is required and must be affixed to the roll before it can be canceled. I am not directly associated with the Post Office nor the U S Mint, but I promote the America The Beautiful Quarter Program. I work with the postmasters at each of the dediction post offices to setup a temporary cancellation station on the day of the quarter launch ceremony. Hope this helps and hope to see you at Mount Rushmore on November 6, 2013

  8. LongDread says:

    This is great info, I didnt know you could get the rolled stamped. Please keep me informed about other dedication dates and events!

  9. Coin Update says:

    See this article on Mint News Blog for more information on pictorial cancellations:

    http://mintnewsblog.com/2013/11/america-the-beautiful-quarters-pictorial-cancellations/

    We will provide information on CoinUpdate.com or Mintnewsblog.com on future launch ceremonies and pictorial cancellations.

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