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October 7, 2002

Siegelman Unveils Alabama State Quarter Helen Keller Design Embodies Alabama’s “Spirit of Courage,”, First U.S. Coin with Braille Minted for Circulation

From: Office of the Governor Press Release
Oct. 7, 2002

CONTACT: Mike Kanarick
DATE: October 07, 2002
(334) 242-7150

Birmingham – Gov. Don Siegelman today unveiled the design for the Alabama state quarter at Epic School before an auditorium filled with elementary school students. The depiction of Alabama native Helen Keller on the quarter embodies Alabama’s “Spirit of Courage.” The quarter will be the first United States coin ever minted for circulation with a Braille inscription.

“‘Spirit of Courage’ represents the strength, perseverance and positive attitude of Alabamians who, from their earliest habitation, have shown remarkable courage,” Siegelman said. “Embodying such courage in the face of overwhelming challenges was Helen Keller, whose life and spirit continue to inspire generations the world over.”

A seated depiction of Helen Keller, who was deaf and blind, is located in the center of the quarter, with an inscription of her name in both English and Braille to the right of her image. The seated depiction of Keller was inspired by a photograph provided by her great-great-niece, who describes it as a family favorite. The inscription, “Spirit of Courage,” is positioned in a banner at the bottom of the design area. Bordering the right side of the design is a wreath of camellias, Alabama’s state flower, and on the left is a wreath of needles and cones from the Southern Longleaf Pine, Alabama’s state tree.

Alabama’s state quarter, scheduled for release in March 2003, will be the second of five state quarters minted next year as part of the U.S. Mint’s 50 State Quarters Program, which began in Jan. 1999. The program is a 10-year initiative commemorating each of the 50 United States. State designs are displayed on the reverse (tails) of the quarters, while the front (heads) of the quarters continue to display the familiar image of George Washington.

The program allows the governor of each state to determine the design process. The selection of Keller resulted from a statewide school competition, announced by Siegelman in Jan. 2001, with the theme of “Education: Link to the Past, Gateway to the Future.” Approximately 450 designs were submitted by students from around the state, a number of which included the likeness of Keller.

Alabama’s state quarter will be the 22nd quarter released, reflecting that, when admitted to the Union in 1819, Alabama became the 22nd state. Alabama’s quarter will be minted after the Illinois quarter and followed by the quarters for Maine, Missouri and Arkansas. Alabama’s quarter will be produced at U.S. Mints in Philadelphia and Denver.

At 4 p.m. today, Siegelman will present a framed depiction of the Alabama state quarter for permanent display to Ivy Green, Keller’s birthplace.

** An image of the Alabama state quarter design is attached to this news release.

**More information about the 50 State Quarters Program is available at