Minted between 1999 and 2008, the 50 State Quarters was a series of commemorative 25-cent pieces released by the United States Mint featuring unique designs for each of the 50 United States on the reverse. Started to support a new generation of coin collectors, the program became the most successful numismatic program in history, with around half of the U.S. population collecting the coins. As a result, however, none of the regular circulating issues are rare enough to become a valuable investment. To date, the U.S. government has made additional profits of $3 billion from collectors taking the coins out of circulation.
In 2009, the U.S. Mint extended the program by issuing quarters for the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories (including Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands).
Below are some interesting facts regarding just some of the individual state designs:
- Alabama: The Alabama state quarter is the first coin circulated in the U.S. to feature Braille.
- Connecticut: The Charter Oak on the back of the Connecticut quarter also appears on a 1936 half dollar commemorating the 300th anniversary of the state’s settlement by Europeans.
- Georgia: The outline of the state of Georgia on the quarter appears to have accidentally left out Dade County, located in the extreme northwestern part of the state, despite the fact that in 1860, Dade residents had voted to secede from the U.S. It later “rejoined” in 1945.
- Hawaii: The Hawaii quarter is the first U.S. coin to feature royalty of any kind. It features a rendition of the statue of King Kamehameha I, who united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810.
- Illinois: The Illinois quarter is the only quarter to directly reference and portray an urban city with its depiction of the Chicago skyline.
- Indiana: Like the Georgia quarter, the Indiana quarter is also missing part of its northwestern corner, with Lake County either partially or completely missing.
- New Hampshire: The “Old Man of the Mountain”, which is featured on the back of the New Hampshire quarter, later collapsed in 2003.
- South Dakota: Although South Dakota has the 2nd-highest proportion of American Indians of any state, the South Dakota quarter features three items that are the result of European settlement: 1) Mount Rushmore (which features four U.S. presidents carved into the Black Hills, which are actually sacred to the Lakota); 2) a ring-necked pheasant (which is actually an exotic species); and 3) wheat (which has replaced tens of thousands of square miles of the original diverse grasslands).
- Wisconsin: A number of the Wisconsin quarters, all printed at the Denver mint, feature a small mint error regarding the ear of corn. As a result, sets of these flawed coins have sold on eBay for up to $2,800!