SEDALIA, MISSOURI – As the Lewis and Clark Fife and Drum Corp played, United States Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore, Missouri Governor Bob Holden and First Lady Lori Hauser Holden officially launched the new Missouri state quarter at the State Fair in Sedalia today. The United States Mint’s mascot, Peter the Mint Eagle, was on hand as children in the crowd received shiny new Missouri quarter-dollars.

Dr. Robert Archibald, President of the National Council of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial and co-Chairman of the Missouri Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission, acted as Master of Ceremonies. The new quarter is the first circulating coin to depict Lewis and Clark’s historic expedition nearly 200 years ago, depicting the explorers’ return to Saint Louis down the Missouri River. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (the Gateway Arch) is illustrated in the background, with the inscription “Corps of Discovery 1804-2004.”

The Show Me state’s launch celebration marks the first time in the 50 State Quarters® Program that the official ceremony has coincided with a state’s birthday – its day of statehood. Missouri became the 24th state to be admitted into the Union on August 10, 1821, as part of the Missouri Compromise.

“The Missouri quarter depicts the rich history and the spirit of adventure at the heart of this great state and our Nation,” said United States Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore. “We have a special affinity for Missouri at the Mint, since Nellie Tayloe Ross, born near St. Joseph, was the first woman to serve as Director of the Mint, from 1933 to 1953.”

In February 2001, Governor Bob Holden announced the selection of the Missouri Commemorative Quarter Design Committee and requested statewide design submissions. During the month of March, the state received more than 3,000 concept submissions. The Missouri Commemorative Quarter Design Committee, composed of a team of experts, selected twelve finalists. The twelve finalists were presented to the public, who chose five concepts to forward to the United States Mint. The concepts included representations of the Nation’s westward expansion, a riverboat, the Pony Express, and Lewis and Clark’s expedition. From the candidate designs that the United States Mint returned to Governor Holden, the Lewis and Clark design, “Corps of Discovery 1804-2004”, was chosen by an online vote.

The 8,000-mile journey of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark westward and back, which some claim was the greatest U.S. military expedition ever, began in St. Charles, Missouri — just 20 miles west of St. Louis — in 1804 and ended when they returned to St. Louis, Missouri in 1806. The United States Mint officially released the Missouri quarter to the Federal Reserve Bank on August 4, 2003.

The United States Mint’s collectible five-coin proof sets featuring all five state quarters for 2003 and other popular 50 State Quarters products are available on the Mint’s website, www.usmint.gov, and by calling 1-800-USA-MINT.

Launched in 1999, the United States Mint’s 50 State Quarters Program is a 10-year initiative that honors each of the states in the order that they were admitted into the Union. Each quarter is produced for about 10 weeks and will never be produced again. Surveys show that more than 130 million adults are collecting the quarters. Created by Congress in 1792, the United States Mint is the manufacturer of legal tender coinage for the United States. In FY 2002, the United States Mint manufactured approximately 15 billion coins and generated revenue of $1.8 billion.

For a digital photograph of the new Maine quarter, please visit: http://usmint.gov/pressroom/index.cfm?action=photo#SQ2003.

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Press inquiries: Michael White (202) 354-7222
Customer Service information: (800) USA MINT (872-6468)