“John Brown” quarter released, public spends thousands

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People lined up to buy rolls of quarters on Wednesday in Harpers Ferry as part of an event that celebrated the area’s Civil War history.

The new quarters are the latest in the “America the Beautiful” series, which features national parks from each state across the country.

Those who celebrated the release of the quarter showing the fort raided by Civil War abolitionist, John Brown, spent anywhere between $10-$500 each time they stood in line to buy the $10 rolls.

“We will buy as many as we can afford,” said Kathy Greene, who was waiting in line at least an hour before the event started.

Harpers Ferry was selected as one of five locations that will be represented on a limited edition quarter in the series this year.

So far, there are 32 other quarters in the series dating back to 2010 from places like Yosemite, Gettysburg National Military Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and now, John Brown’s fort.

According to Harpers Ferry Historical Park superintendent, Rebecca Harriett, it’s pure luck that West Virginia’s coin was minted in 2016.

“The NPS is celebrating our 100th anniversary, and so, it just coincided and we are very happy to have this as one of our centennial events,” Harriett said. 

The release event featured speakers like former basketball Olympian and gold medalist, Vicki Bullet, and representatives from the National Park Service. 

Each quarter has a release event like the one in Harpers Ferry.

One man traveled all the way from California to share the experience with his son.

“We kind of happened upon the one in Yosemite in 2010,” said Sidney Plagenza, who travels the country to release events with his son, Nicholas. “It was the third event and when we went to that one, we kind of made a goal to do half of the 56 events and that was five, almost six years ago.”

The Plagenzas have already been to 21 quarter release events, but they still have seven more to go before they reach their goal.

The John Brown quarter is number 33 of the 56 coin series, but his fort wasn’t part of the original design.

Harpers Ferry was picked for its beautiful landscape and rich Civill War history – all of which, Thomas Hipschen, the coin’s designer, tried to incorporate until he was told he had to choose one, central motif.

“And the central motif turned out to be John Brown’s fort because it has such an incredible history,” Hipschen said.

Hipschen said he spent days in Harpers Ferry taking photos and exploring the national park, but he said the fort represents the history and beauty of Harpers Ferry.

All 56 coins will be minted by 2021. 

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