WASHINGTON – Maryland may soon have a `tail’ to call its own.
The state this week sent the U.S. Mint five proposals for Maryland’s design for the back of a commemorative quarter, slated to be minted in the year 2000.
Like the five states whose quarters will be minted next year — the first in a 10-year program to design coins commemorating all 50 states — Maryland’s proposals lean heavily toward history and state icons.
The Maryland Commemorative Quarter Design Committee “was looking for something to represent Maryland’s place in early American History,” said Mimi Calver, a committee member representing the State Archives.
The final five designs are:
— The Maryland State House, submitted by Frank O’Rourke of Princess Anne.
— The Maryland State House dome, submitted by William Krawczewicz of Crofton.
— The Maryland shield over an outline of the state, submitted by Krawczewicz.
— The Ark and the Dove, the boats that brought the first English settlers to Maryland in 1634, also from Krawczewicz.
— Fort McHenry and the Star Spangled Banner, simultaneously submitted by John F. Fieseler of the Francis Scott Key Memorial Foundation Inc. and Donald Curtis.
The finalists were selected Tuesday from a field of 280 entries and announced Wednesday. The designs will be refined by the mint and returned to the governor, who will make the final selection in April.
After finalist O’Rourke read about the design contest in the newspaper, he had only one idea: the Maryland State House, the oldest statehouse still in legislative use in the United States.
“I tried to make as many connections with George Washington and the federal government as possible,” said O’Rourke, a junior high school teacher.
He picked the State House because Washington resigned his commission there as commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1783. O’Rourke said he wanted to coordinate the `tails’ side of Maryland’s quarter with Washington’s profile, which will remain on the `heads’ side.
Fieseler, the director of tourism for Frederick County, said he chose Fort McHenry and the Star-Spangled Banner because he “wanted something that showed Maryland as the birthplace of the national anthem.”
If the Fort McHenry/Star-Spangled Banner design is chosen, it would please workers at the historic fort such as Paul Plamann, who has been a park ranger there for 31 years.
“I think that would be neat if we were selected,” Plamann said Wednesday. “[The national anthem] is one of the biggest gifts to the nation.”
The 50 States Commemorative Quarter program is the largest commemorative-issue coin program in the nation’s history. Quarters with new reverse sides commemorating one of the 50 states will be released in the order they joined the union.
The first five, to be minted in 1999, represent Delaware, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Georgia. The designs range from the famous image of Washington crossing the Delaware, which New Jersey is using, to the Georgia peach.
Maryland was the seventh state to join the union.