To some, it would be a flip of a coin as to which of the two men should be immortalized on U.S. currency. But Graceland has resolved the question in its favor by licensing a Maryland company to replace the "Father of the Country," George Washington, on the Tennessee version of some 2002 quarters with the face of a colorized Elvis Presley.
In the process, the man who sang Love Me Tender has become illegal tender. Defacing U.S. currency is a crime that amounts to a misdemeanor with a fine and up to a five-year federal prison sentence, says Tim Viertel, special agent in charge of the Memphis office of the U.S. Secret Service. He said "The new Elvis quarters, produced as souvenirs honoring Elvis on the 25th anniversary of his death, are in a "gray area" since the coins are not being produced as part of a deceptive scheme: "I don't know of a U.S. attorney's office around who would prosecute it."
The Elvis coins went into production this month through the International Collector's Society, licensed by Graceland to use "a revolutionary new process that actually fuses a brilliant color portrait of Elvis" over the face of George Washington. The Tennessee quarters already have a musical theme on the flip side, with a guitar, fiddle and trumpet stamped on the quarter over a "Musical Heritage" banner. For more information, call (800) 641-0020.