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State's 150th birthday products sell well

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia's 150th birthday made for big business under the state Department of Commerce's merchandise tent.

"The sales were just crazy," department spokeswoman Andrea Bond said.

Workers sold 1,863 T-shirts over three days of celebrations last weekend, marking 150 years since West Virginia's founding . . . in 1863.

The merchandise tent also moved 750 coffee mugs, 396 water bottles and 256 hats. Workers sold out of all 1,000 key chains the department ordered for the event.

"They should be a collectors' item someday," Bond said.

Some merchandise still is available on www.wvscenics.com. The state has sold an additional 30 shirts, 20 hats and 25 coffee mugs on the website since it opened earlier this week.

Collectors snatched up the Department of Commerce's entire stock of special-edition sesquicentennial coins within 12 hours of its May 19 release.

Bond said the department was able to save one coin, however, for a drawing on the state's birthday.

Over at the state Division of Motor Vehicles tent, workers sold 33 sesquicentennial license plates at Saturday's festivities.

Spokeswoman Natalie Harvey said drivers needed only to show up at the DMV's booth with their proof of insurance and vehicle registration card to get one of the limited-edition plates.

"We were able to do that right on site," she said.

Harvey said many other people asked questions about the plates and said they would visit their regional DMV office soon to pick one up.

"It certainly raised awareness of the plate," he said.

The DMV ordered 70,000 plates, which feature navy blue letters and numbers over a golden background of the state seal and a map of West Virginia. So far, 9,000 state residents have signed up.

"I really think they have been picking up in the last month," Harvey said. "There's still plenty in the offices, so folks do have time to get theirs."

She expects orders to increase even more following the sesquicentennial celebrations last weekend.

Last Thursday, Thomas Marshall, executive vice president of the U.S. Postal Service, unveiled a new Forever Stamp commemorating West Virginia's 150th birthday.

Postal service workers set up shop in the Culture Center on Thursday and Saturday to sell the stamp, which features a Pocahontas County sunrise captured by photographer Roger Spence.

Spokeswoman Cathy Yarosky said the Postal Service does not release sales numbers for its products but said the West Virginia stamp is already popular among philatelists. She said even postal employees were "over the moon" about it.

"The lines were literally out the door," she said. "They are going to be, I can already tell, very popular."

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or zack.harold@dailymail.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ZackHarold.

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