Is The Obama Quarter Real? U.S. Mint Gets Lazy With Our Currency

Politicians are famous for speaking out of both sides of their mouth, but the U.S. Mint and Treasury? Thats a hard pill to swallow.During the Presidents inauguration, the New England Mint, a private mint, took official quarters and layered them with images of Barack Obama. The New England Mint then advertised these coins for sale as limited edition items.A recent NBC TV news story reports that these Obama quarters are still being used by merchants and banks in New York City, despite the fact that the U.S. Mint does not approve them. To view the recent TV report, go to:http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local-beat/Obama-Quarters-Loose-Change-85821077.htmlAfter reading this story on the Internet, I sought clarification from the U.S. Mint about the use of these quarters.Mike White, a spokesman for the U.S. Mint, told me the Mint doesnt encourage or even approve of the Obama coin, but its not illegal. Coins have been colorized for years for promotional purposes.Coins have been altered for various purposes, he said, and as long as its not represented as anything but an altered coin, its not illegal.After investigating the use of colorized quarters further, I got even more confused.A few years ago, 20th Century Fox promoted the movie, "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," by placing a printed image of the "Silver Surfer" character, along with the movie's Web address, on 40,000 California state commemorative quarters, and releasing these coins into circulation.The U.S. Mint objected to this use of the California quarter for promotional purposes.Spokesman White said the 20th Century Fox coin was an advertisement. He said the Obama coin is not an advertisement in the same way as the 20th Century Fox quarter. The movie coin was different because it is designed to sell a specific product, White said.Before you try to figure out why the Mint objected more to what 20th Century Fox did than what the New England Mint did with the Obama quarter, keep in mind that the Mint did nothing more about the 20th Century Fox promotion than make a statement about it.White noted that the Mint has no enforcement powers; taking action against illegal currency is up to either the Justice Department or the Secret Service.Could it be that the government agencies simply dont want to bother with regulating coin currency issues?

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