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New coin commemorates W.Va.'s 150th birthday

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LAWRENCE MESSINA,Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia is adding a commemorative coin to the celebratory mix for its 150th birthday, the commission overseeing the sesquicentennial activities announced Saturday.

Online sales begin Monday for the limited edition, 1 ½-inch wide silver rounds. Each depicts the official sesquicentennial logo on one side and a detailed engraving of the state seal on the other.

"These commemorative coins will be wonderful keepsakes to hand down from one generation to the next, always reminding us of our rich heritage," Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement.

The state has had 1,863 of the coins minted, reflecting the year it gained statehood, and they will sell for $49 each. If there are coins still available, they will also be sold on the state Capitol grounds during the sesquicentennial's culminating celebration that runs from June 20 through the June 23 anniversary of statehood, commission official said.

The Mountain State also issued a commemorative coin in 1963, when it turned 100. Commissioned by Congress, according to promotional materials from the time, those have become collector's items. First lady Joanne Jaeger Tomblin wears one that has been fashioned as a pendant for a necklace. Kay Goodwin, the governor's Education and the Arts secretary and chair of the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission, also has one passed down from her mother.

"It is a treasured memento of an historic occasion for our state, and I know that West Virginians will treasure these coins for decades to come," Goodwin said in a statement.

The state hired Northwest Territorial Mint to craft the sesquicentennial coins. With a facility in Nevada, the company also produces the Bronze Star medal for the U.S. military.

West Virginia split from Virginia during the Civil War. Activities commemorating the state's birth have been scheduled throughout the spring, leading up to the June 20-23 celebration in Charleston. Those events include concerts and parades as well as a 3-D movie and three nights of fireworks hosted at the state Capitol.

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Online:

West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission: www.wv150.com