The U.S. Mint was looking for a way to breathe life back into its circulating coinage when, in 1999, it introduced the 50 States Quarters® Program. This decade-long commemorative coin program replaced the normal Washington quarter with original new reverse designs and a modified obverse. The designs were emblematic of the individual 50 states in the Union, and the new coin designs were released into circulation at a rate of 5 per year. Each design was struck for a total of 10 weeks, and will never again be produced.
The State Quarters were a fantastic success for the Mint, which was able to stimulate great collector interest in the series of commemorative quarters. The total number of 50 different coins gave even casual coin collectors an easy path toward completing the entire set, although it was likely that if they wanted uncirculated examples of the coins, they would have to go to a bank or order directly from the U.S. Mint, rather than trying to compile a collection through their pocket change. The various states' coins were released in the order that each state was admitted into the Union, beginning with Delaware.
Each coin in the set was produced at three different U.S. Mint branch facilities: the standard "P" and "D" mintmark coins come from the Philadelphia and Denver branches, respectively, while the mint also produced special proof versions of the coins with "S" mintmarks, for San Francisco. In addition to collecting one example of each state's design, some collectors also pursue complete sets of each mintmark.
The designs of the 50 State Quarters® are representative of the distinguishing features of that particular state; for example, the Georgia state quarter is prominently graced by a peach as the focal point of the design, as this is the official state fruit of Georgia. In this way, not only can residents of each individual state celebrate what makes their state unique, but Americans all over the country got a glimpse into the diversity of identities for each different state in the Union.
Start your collection of State Quarters or round out the last few coins missing from your complete set!