CHICAGO - As if a new library and
museum weren't enough, the honors keep coming for
Springfield's most famous resident.
A new quarter depicting a young Abraham Lincoln -
juxtaposed with a modern farm scene and Chicago's
lakefront skyline - will begin circulating in January.
The Illinois image will be the 21st commemorative
quarter produced by the U.S. Mint as part of an ongoing
program to honor the 50 states in the order they joined
Illinois' design is the culmination of a two-year
review by state officials, who filtered more than 6,000
ideas from letters and e-mails before Gov. George Ryan
and his wife, Lura Lynn, gave final approval to suburban
artist Thom Cicchelli's composite. Not making the cut,
according to Ryan, were two state symbols: the cardinal
and the violet.
"Lincoln is perhaps the state's greatest citizen and
representative," Cicchelli, joined by Ryan, said Tuesday
during a news conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of
Chicago. "He stands for many of the principles we
cherish and value most, such as freedom, equality,
opportunity and integrity."
The coin's youthful, beardless Lincoln - after the
Avard Fairbanks statue at New Salem State Historic Site
- is shown setting down his ax in favor of a book.
Rather than a mature, presidential Abe, Cicchelli said
he sought to highlight the central Illinoisan as he was
transforming from a laborer into "an attorney and public
In a nod to the state's economic and geographic
diversity, the new quarter also will feature a farm
tableau to Lincoln's left and, to his right, Chicago's
cityscape with a sailboat cutting across the Lake
Michigan. The coin includes the Illinois motto "Land of
Lincoln" and inscriptions that Illinois became the 21st
state in 1818. Twenty-one stars ring the outer edge.
The coin will hit cash registers a couple of months
after the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library opens in
downtown Springfield in late November to honor America's
16th president, who already is depicted on pennies and
$5 bills. A museum counterpart to the library is slated
to open in 2004, and both the state and federal
governments are planning events in 2009 to mark
Lincoln's 200th birthday.
With all of the pending projects, Lincoln's "presence
on the Illinois version of the quarter is no surprise,"
Lincoln scholar Cullom Davis of Springfield said. "I
would say it was a no-brainer because the state calls
itself the Land of Lincoln, and most of the images of
the state, including the license plate, have Lincoln's
As with the other state quarters issued since 1999,
one side of the coin will continue to bear the likeness
of George Washington. The earliest quarters in the
series had mintings that ranged from 600 million to more
than 1 billion coins.
Mike Ramsey can be reached at (312) 857-2323 or