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50 State Quarters program (Pub.L. 105-124, 111 Stat. 2534, enacted
December 1, 1997) is the release of a series of commemorative coins
by the United States Mint. Between 1999 and 2008, it featured each
of the 50 individual U.S. states on unique designs for the reverse
of the quarter.
In 2009, the U.S. Mint started issuing quarters under the 2009
District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Program, authorized by the
passage of H.R. 2764. This program features the District of
Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin
Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands. Although commonly mistaken as
part of the 50 State Quarters Program, it is a separate program
recognized by the U.S. Mint.
The program was conceived as a means of creating a new generation
of coin collectors, and in that it succeeded. The 50 State Quarters
program became the most successful numismatic program in history,
with roughly half of the U.S. population collecting the coins,
either in casual manner or as a serious pursuit. The U.S. federal
government so far has made a profit of $4.6 billion from collectors
taking the coins out of circulation.
The program's origins are with the Citizens Commemorative Coin
Advisory Committee, which was appointed by Treasury Secretary Lloyd
Bentsen in December 1993. By 1995, the committee had already
endorsed a circulating commemorative coin when Congressman Michael
Castle called for hearings. Mint director Philip Diehl picks up the
commentary: "The idea of a circulating commemorative has been around
the hobby for decades, but frankly, good ideas are a dime a dozen.
Far more rare is the ability to move an idea to reality, especially
in the rough and tumble environment of Washington, D.C. From my
vantage point, the lion's share of the credit for making the 50
States program a reality goes to David Ganz, for his persistence as
an advocate, and Congressman Michael Castle for championing the
proposal through Congress. David gradually persuaded me of the
merits of the proposal, and we at the Mint, in turn, convinced
Treasury and the Hill that it was doable. There are other claimants,
to be sure, but the hobby owes a debt of gratitude to Congressman
Castle and Mr. Ganz." The program was first introduced by Rep.
Michael Castle in 1997 as H.R. 2414 but only passed in the House.
Sen. John Chafee introduced S. 1228 three days after HR 2414 passed
the House. S. 1228 passed in the Senate on November 9, 1997 and the
House on November 13, 1997. President Bill Clinton signed the 50
States Commemorative Coin Program Act into law on December 1, 1997.
The first state quarter, which featured Delaware, was released into
circulation in 1999.
state quarter program
During the program, a new statehood quarter was released by the
United States Mint every quintile, or 1/5th of a year (73 days, or
ten weeks), meaning that five designs were released each year. Each
quarter's reverse celebrated one of the 50 states with a design
honoring its unique history, traditions and symbols, usually
designed by a resident of that state and chosen by the state
The quarters are released in the same order that the states joined
the Union. The obverse of each quarter is a slight redesign of the
previous design of the quarter.
The statehood quarters program has become one of the most popular
commemorative coin programs in United States history; the United
States Mint has estimated that over one hundred million individuals
have collected state quarters, either formally or informally.
By the end of 2008, all of the original 50 states quarters had
been minted and released. The official total, according to the U.S.
Mint, was 34,797,600,000 coins. The average per state design was
695,952,000 coins, but ranged all the way from Virginia's
1,594,616,000 to Oklahoma's 416,600,000, a difference by a factor of
about 3.83. The average was skewed higher by a few states with very
large mintage numbers, while the median state had a total of
580,500,000 coins. Only two states had a very close number of minted
coins, Missouri and Wisconsin each with about 453,200,000 coins.