Many Americans grew up with one standard design on the quarter, featuring George Washington’s dignified profile on one side of the coin and a stately eagle on the reverse.
In 1975-1976, bicentennial quarters, minted to mark the 200th anniversary of U.S. independence, drummed up some interest but featured only one new design. Then, beginning in 1999, the U.S. Mint’s 50 State Quarters Program brought change to our change.
Now, quarters offer up images of flora, fauna, famous landmarks, musical instruments, race cars and even cheese. (Wisconsin, we’re looking at you with that one.)
The state quarters were released in sets of five per year for 10 years, with states lined up according to the order in which they joined the Union. It was a long wait for Hawaii and Alaska, in other words.
But that wasn’t all.
Coins for the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories were issued in 2009. And in 2010, the U.S. Mint began a new 56-coin series honoring America’s national parks and other national sites. The America the Beautiful Quarters Program will continue to issue new coins in 2020 and 2021.
Meanwhile, here’s a look at the 50 nifty quarters that started it all, in the order of their release.