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NEW MONEY: ADAMS COIN INAUGURATED

Quincy’s favorite son
back in circulation


The Patriot Ledger
GREG DERR photos/The Patriot Ledger
Quincy Mayor William Phelan hands out Adams $1 coins to third-graders from Atherton Hough and Parker schools wearing child-sized, Colonial-style silver wigs for the occasion.

The hometown launch of the John Adams $1 coin turned into a picnic with a president.

As MBTA commuters came and went from the Quincy Center station yesterday, hundreds of shoppers, schoolchildren and collectors lingered in the park area next to city hall on a mild, blue-sky morning to purchase the U.S. Mint’s new Adams coin and snack on hot dogs, juice and cannoli.

They also got to hear Mint director Edmund C. Moy and Peter Boylston Adams, a seventh-generation descendant of the nation’s second president and his wife, Abigail.

“A really nice day,” said Jennifer O’Dwyer, who was lounging on the grass with her husband, Jerry O’Dwyer, and their 2-year-old daughter Julia.

Like almost everyone there, the O’Dwyers bought a set of the bright, brass coins as keepsakes - as did Adams descendant Deborah Talbot of Brookline, who got 35 to give to relatives.

“My whole family wants one,” Talbot said.

By the end of the event, co-sponsor Colonial Federal Savings Bank had sold 12,000 of them, with the bulk of sales in $25 rolls.

Yesterday’s launch is the second such campaign the Mint has staged, after a similar release in February for the George Washington dollar, the first in the new presidential coin series.

Moy and his agency are hoping that publicity for the series will boost the metal dollars’ popularity with consumers, who have enthusiastically embraced the state quarters but didn’t take to the Sacagawea $1 coin in 2000.

Moy was at pains to tell those gathered for the festivities that, while he hopes they’ll use the Adams coin for vending machines and other everyday transactions, the Mint has no plans to replace the familiar paper dollars.

“This gives Americans a choice,” he said.

“He would approve”

To demonstrate his point, he and Quincy mayor William Phelan handed out pairs of the coins to scores of third-graders from Atherton Hough and Parker elementary schools - “one to keep and one to spend,” he told the youngsters, who donned child-sized, Colonial-style silver wigs for the occasion.
Peter Boylston Adams, a seventh-generation decendant of John Adams, with a large version of the coin that pays tribute to our second president.

Judging by an informal survey of adults buying the coins, the Mint has a challenge ahead. Almost everyone thought the new coins will be more popular as collector’s items than as regularly circulating dollars.

“If you don’t take away the paper money, the coins aren’t going to work,” said Quincy accountant Joe Rainville, who bought 225 of them in nine rolls.

The Mint has a while to change consumers’ attitudes. The presidential coin series will run through 2016 if not longer, with four new presidents each year.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison coins will follow this year. John Quincy Adams, John and Abigail’s son and the sixth U.S. president, will get his coin in 2008.

Despite the public’s abiding preference for paper dollars, Moy is optimistic. With almost 200 million of the coins on order from banks and the Federal Reserve, “John Adams is going to become very familiar to a lot of Americans,” he said.

Peter Adams, who lives in Lincoln, said the dollar might give his famous ancestor pause at first.

“In his time, coins held the imprint of kings and emperors, for which he did not have much use,” Adams said. “But now, as an honor for him, I think he would approve.”

Lane Lambert may be reached at llambert@ledger.com.