The U.S. Mint’s 50 States Quarters program, which ran from 1999 through 2008, was perhaps the most popular commemorative coin series the nation has ever fielded.
As I look back at the 50 different reverse designs that grace the Statehood quarters (a series which honored each state in the order that they entered the Union), I think of all the different artistic topic matter that these coins cover.
That’s just one reason why I think a 50 States Quarter set is so beautiful.
The state quarters in this series depict everything from food to cars, people to animals, architecture to geography, flowers to trees, — and much more!
Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve found…
Famous People On The 50 State Quarters
There are at least 9 quarters which depict identifiable, historic people.
Here are the individuals you’ll see on the Statehood quarters:
- Caesar Rodney on the 1999 Delaware quarter
- George Washington crossing the Delaware River on the 1999 New Jersey quarter
- The Wright brothers (Orville and Wilbur) on the 2001 North Carolina quarter
- Abraham Lincoln on the 2003 Illinois quarter
- Helen Keller on the 2003 Alabama quarter
- Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on the 2003 Missouri quarter
- Naturalist John Muir on the 2005 California quarter
- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt on Mount Rushmore, depicted on the 2006 South Dakota quarter
- Hawaii’s King Kamehameha I on the 2008 Hawaii quarter (The Hawaii quarter is the only state quarter to feature royalty!)
Food On The 50 State Quarters
Yes, believe it or not, the Statehood quarters cover so much of America’s culture and diversity that some of the coins even depict our food. Well, not all of it, but enough to get your appetite going!
Let’s look at the state quarters that portray some culinary classics (not including animal meat, since we cover animals in their own category):
- The peach on the 1999 Georgia quarter
- Maple syrup (in the form of maple sap being tapped) on the 2001 Vermont quarter
- Cheese and corn on the 2004 Wisconsin quarter
- Wheat on the 2006 South Dakota quarter
Vehicles On The 50 State Quarters
We are a nation of commuters, travelers, and sightseers. The Statehood quarters program recognizes that by honoring many forms of transportation.
These are the forms of transportation included on the state quarters:
- The boat upon which Washington crossed the Delaware River, as seen on the 1999 New Jersey quarter
- English sailing ships on the 2000 Virginia quarter
- The Wright Brothers’ plane on the 2001 North Carolina quarter
- A recreational sailboat on the 2001 Rhode Island quarter
- An early plane on the 2002 Ohio quarter
- An “Indy” car on the 2002 Indiana quarter
- A sailboat on the 2003 Maine quarter
- A row boat (transporting Lewis and Clark) on the 2003 Missouri quarter
- Explorer Ponce De Leon’s ship and NASA’s space shuttle on the 2004 Florida quarter
- A small motor boat on the 2005 Minnesota quarter
- A horse-drawn carriage on the 2006 Nebraska quarter
- 2 locomotives on the 2007 Utah quarter
Architecture On The 50 State Quarters
The designers of the 50 States Quarters did not forget an homage to America’s beautiful buildings and architecture!
Here are buildings and other edifices you’ll see on the Statehood quarters:
- The Maryland State House dome on the 2000 Maryland quarter
- The Federal Hill mansion (“my old Kentucky home”) on the 2001 Kentucky quarter
- The Pell Bridge on the 2001 Rhode Island quarter
- Bass Harbor Head lighthouse is on the 2003 Maine quarter
- A profile of a barn and silo and the modern-day downtown Chicago skyline on the 2003 Illinois quarter
- St. Louis Arch on the 2003 Missouri quarter
- A traditional one-room school house on the 2004 Iowa quarter
- New River Gorge Bridge on the 2005 West Virginia quarter
Geography On The 50 State Quarters
The 50 States Quarters are as educational as they are beautiful. Some of the quarters even depict the outline of some states’ borders.
Below are the state quarters with the respective state’s border profile:
- 1999 Pennsylvania quarter
- 1999 Georgia quarter
- 2000 Massachusetts quarter
- 2000 South Carolina quarter
- 2001 New York quarter
- 2002 Ohio quarter
- 2002 Indiana quarter
- 2002 Louisiana quarter
- 2003 Illinois quarter
- 2004 Michigan quarter
- 2004 Texas quarter
- 2005 Minnesota quarter
- 2007 Idaho quarter
- 2008 New Mexico quarter
- 2008 Hawaii quarter
Plants, Trees, And Flowers On The 50 State Quarters
Aside from the many wreaths which are included in the designs on the 50 States Quarters, let’s examine the program’s numerous tributes to our nation’s plants.
Since I already covered fruit, vegetables, and grains in the food category, I’ll leave them off this list:
- The Charter Oak on the 1999 Connecticut quarter
- Live oak sprigs on the 1999 Georgia quarter
- Palmetto and the Carolina Yellow Jessamine on the 2000 South Carolina quarter
- White oak leaf cluster on the 2000 Maryland quarter
- Maple trees on the 2001 Vermont quarter
- Magnolias on the 2002 Mississippi quarter
- Alabama long leaf pine and magnolias on the 2003 Alabama quarter
- The apple blossom and pine trees on the 2003 Arkansas quarter
- Trees on the banks of the Mississippi River on the 2003 Missouri quarter
- Fir trees on the 2003 Maine quarter
- Small, newly planted tree on the 2004 Iowa quarter
- Palm trees on the 2004 Florida quarter
- Spruce trees on the 2005 Oregon quarter
- Trees on the 2005 West Virginia quarter
- Trees and other plants on the 2005 California quarter
- Conifers on the 2005 Minnesota quarter
- The sunflower on the 2005 Kansas quarter
- Conifers on the 2006 Colorado quarter
- Sage bush on the 2006 Nevada quarter
- A grassy prairie on the 2006 North Dakota quarter
- Conifers on the 2007 Washington quarter
- Indian blanket wildflowers on the 2008 Oklahoma quarter
- Cacti and other desert plants on the 2008 Arizona quarter
- Conifers on the 2008 Alaska quarter
Animals On The 50 State Quarters
Of course, what would a tribute to the 50 states of the Union be without a nod to the creatures who live among us?
Here is a breakdown of the animals that can be found on the Statehood quarters:
- Horse on the 1999 Delaware quarter
- Carolina Wren on the 2000 South Carolina quarter
- Horse on the 2001 Kentucky quarter
- Eastern brown pelican on the 2002 Louisiana quarter
- Mockingbird on the 2003 Arkansas quarter
- Birds flying in the background of the 2003 Maine quarter
- Cow on the 2004 Wisconsin quarter
- Buffalo on the 2005 Kansas quarter
- California condor on the 2005 California quarter
- Duck on the 2005 Minnesota quarter
- Wild horses on the 2006 Nevada quarter
- American bison on the 2006 North Dakota quarter
- Cattle on the 2006 Nebraska quarter
- Ring-necked pheasant flying on the 2006 South Dakota quarter
- Bison skull on the 2007 Montana quarter
- Peregrine falcon on the 2007 Idaho quarter
- A king salmon on the 2007 Washington quarter
- Profile of a bucking horse on the 2007 Wyoming quarter
- Scissortail flycatcher bird on the 2008 Oklahoma quarter
- Grizzly bear and fish on the 2008 Alaska quarter
Mottos On The 50 State Quarters
There’s not just a lot to see on these state quarters — there’s a lot to read, too.
- “The First State” on the 1999 Delaware quarter
- “Virtue, Liberty, Independence” on the 1999 Pennsylvania quarter
- “Crossroads of the Revolution” on the 1999 New Jersey quarter
- “Freedom, Justice, Moderation” on the 1999 Georgia quarter
- “The Bay State” on the 2000 Massachusetts quarter
- “The Old Line State” on the 2000 Maryland quarter
- “The Palmetto State” on the 2000 South Carolina quarter
- “Live Free or Die” on the 2000 New Hampshire quarter
- “Gateway to Freedom” on the 2001 New York quarter
- “The Ocean State” on the 2001 Rhode Island quarter
- “Freedom and Unity” on the 2001 Vermont quarter
- “Musical Heritage” on the 2002 Tennessee quarter
- “Birthplace of Aviation Pioneers” on the 2002 Ohio quarter
- “Crossroads of America” on the 2002 Indiana quarter
- “The Magnolia State” on the 2002 Mississippi quarter
- “Land of Lincoln” and “21st State | Century” on the Illinois quarter
- “Spirit of Courage” on the 2003 Alabama quarter
- “Corps of Discovery” on the 2004 Missouri quarter
- “Great Lakes State” on the 2004 Michigan quarter
- “Gateway to Discovery” on the 2004 Florida quarter
- “The Lone Star State” on the 2004 Texas quarter
- “Foundation in Education” on the 2004 Iowa quarter
- “Forward” on the 2004 Wisconsin quarter
- “Land of 10,000 Lakes” on the 2005 Minnesota quarter
- “The Silver State” on the 2006 Nevada quarter
- “Colorful Colorado” on the 2006 Colorado quarter
- “Big Sky Country” on the 2007 Montana quarter
- “The Evergreen State” on the 2007 Washington quarter
- “Esto Perpetum” (“Let it be Perpetual”) on the 2007 Idaho quarter
- “The Equality State” on the 2007 Wyoming quarter
- “Crossroads of the West” on the 2007 Utah quarter
- “Land of Enchantment” on the 2008 New Mexico quarter
- “Grand Canyon State” on the 2008 Arizona quarter
- “The Great Land” on the 2008 Alaska quarter
- “Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono” (“The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness”) on the 2008 Hawaii quarter
Miscellaneous Items On The 50 State Quarters
Something else that makes these 50 state quarters fascinating is that there are numerous other interesting things on the coins besides state symbols and historic figures.
Check out the unique items found on these state quarters:
- Minuteman and gun on the 2000 Massachusetts quarter
- Statue of Liberty on the 2001 New York quarter
- Guitar, fiddle, and a trumpet with musical staff paper on the 2002 Tennessee quarter
- Trumpet and musical notes on the 2002 Louisiana quarter
- Astronaut on the 2002 Ohio quarter
- Diamond on the 2003 Arkansas quarter
- Armchair and braille on the 2003 Alabama quarter
- Fishing rods being held by fishermen on a boat on the 2005 Minnesota quarter
- Walking stick (a type of cane, not the insect) on the 2005 California quarter
- The sun and famous “Chimney Rock” formation on the 2006 Nebraska quarter
- The sun on the 2006 North Dakota quarter
- Railroad spike on the 2007 Utah quarter
- Zia sun symbol on the 2008 New Mexico quarter
- The sun on the 2008 Arizona quarter
See how each state decided what to put on its state quarter.
Little-Known Fact #1: There Are Two 2-Headed State Quarters!
It’s true. George Washington appears on both the obverse (front of the coin) and reverse (back of the coin) on 2 of the 50 state quarters.
Not only is his bust on the front of all 50 of the state quarters, but George Washington also appears on the back of these 2 state quarters:
- 1999 New Jersey quarter crossing the Delaware River; and
- 2006 South Dakota quarter on Mount Rushmore.
Little-Known Fact #2: The Old Man Featured On The Mountain On The NH Quarter No Longer Exists
The Old Man of the Mountain was a series of natural ledges on the top of Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire’s Franconia Notch State Park.
The cliffs, at a certain angle, looked like the profile of an old man.
Geologists speculate that the Old Man of the Mountain was formed by the last retreating glaciers in New England approximately 12,000 years ago. Source
The Old Man of the Mountain has been noted in many books, passages, and poems, and popular culture references dating back centuries. It’s the same “Great Stone Face” immortalized by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Daniel Webster.
Sadly, in 2003, natural forces caught up with the “Old Man,” and the 40-foot tall landmark collapsed after centuries.
With heavy rains and high winds and freezing temperatures, the combination was just right to loosen him up,” he said. “We always thought it was the hand of God holding him up, and he let go. Source
There was much public mourning over the loss of this beloved natural icon. However, it does live on in glory on the reverse of the 2000 New Hampshire quarter — and the Old Man of the Mountain remains remains the official New Hampshire state emblem to this day.
Other Little-Known Facts About The 50 State Quarters
- On December 1, 1997, President Bill Clinton signed the Commemorative Coin Program Act that got the 50 States Quarters coin program underway.
- The U.S. Mint produced approximately 34.2 billion quarters to the Federal Reserve Bank during the years 1999 to 2008 — the years the statehood quarters were minted. Yet, only 14.8 billion quarters were shipped to the Federal Reserve Bank during the previous 10 years (from 1989 to 1998).
- 51% of the 50 state quarters were produced at the Philadelphia mint facility; 49% were struck at the Denver mint.
- A new state quarter design was minted and released into circulation every 10 weeks.
- It was customary for the governors of each state to be present during the launch ceremony of their state’s quarter. But when the Alaska state quarter was honored at a launch ceremony on August 29, 2008, Senator John McCain was announcing Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential pick — so she had left Alaska that day to begin her involvement with Senator McCain’s campaign. Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell took Governor Palin’s place at the Alaska quarter ceremony that day.
- Many thousands of ordinary people — like you and me — submitted, chose, or suggested designs for the 50 States Quarters series. (I never submitted any designs. Kinda wish I did now, though.)
- The state quarter with the lowest mintage is the 2008 Oklahoma Quarter — with a total of 416,600,000 Oklahoma state quarters minted at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints combined.
- The state quarter with the highest mintage is the 2000 Virginia Quarter — with a total of 1,594,616,000 Virginia state quarters minted at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints combined. (This number represents at least 5 quarters for every man, woman, and child living in the United States.)
- From 1999 to 2008, the U.S. Mint brought in $6.1 billion in seigniorage. The 50 States Quarters program is estimated to have produced $2.7 to $2.9 billion in seigniorage, not including profits from the Alaska and Hawaii quarters. (The money was sent to the Treasury General Fund.)
- These Statehood quarters make wonderful educational tools for children. It is therefore no surprise that the U.S. Mint announced soon after the launch of the 50 States Quarters program that roughly 6 million free lesson plans for kids had already been downloaded from its website to help teach children, students, and others about American culture, the U.S. states and their history.
Here’s a fun quiz about the 50 state quarters.
State Quarter Values
Wondering which state quarters are the most valuable ones?
All of the Statehood quarters were minted into the hundreds of millions, so I wouldn’t say there’s really a most sought after state quarter — unless it’s an error coin.
As you’ll see in the error coin links below, some of the most valuable state quarters aren’t the ones you typically find in pocket change or proof sets, but rather those with errors and other kinds of mistakes.
Many state quarter errors are rare and worth $50 or more!
Yes, they’re hard to find, but it’s worth the effort. Imaging turning up a scarce state quarter error in your pocket change for just the price of the quarter itself — or 25 cents.
Rare State Quarters From The Statehood Quarters Series
Some of the state quarters may seem harder to obtain than others, but they’re all pretty common. It’s all just a matter of how many were released in your area. (Remember, state quarters with a D were released from the Denver mint and state quarters with a P were made at the Philadelphia mint.)
If there’s one that seems harder to find in your area, I recommend checking on eBay — although it will cost a bit more than 25 cents there.
Whether or not you decide to buy any of the state quarters from a coin dealer or simply want to look for them in pocket change (like I do), you’re probably curious about how much the Statehood quarters are worth and if any of them are rare.
Unfortunately, the coins that were released from 1999 through 2008 as part of the 50 States Quarters program are not rare. Not at all, in fact — because millions upon millions upon MILLIONS of each state quarter were made.
But, if I were to answer the question which of the state quarters is the most rare…
I’d say the title of the “rarest” (I loosely say in quotes) business-strike 50 States Quarter (one made for circulation) goes to the 2008-D Oklahoma quarter — with a relatively small mintage of just 194,600,000 pieces.
However, this is by no means a rare quarter, and they’re readily found in pocket change just like the higher-mintage pieces (those with more than 250 million minted).
Also, 2008-D Oklahoma quarters are still worth only 25 cents, or face value, just like there “more common” counterparts.
Scarce State Quarters From The Statehood Quarters Series
If you’re looking for “scarce” coins from the 50 States Quarters program, it seems the 1999-S and 2001-S proof quarters are 2 that you’ll want.
Proof quarters from 1999 and 2001 skyrocketed in price soon after the release of these specially minted collector pieces. Prices remained above $50 per 5-coin set for years, until more recently as interest in the Statehood quarters has waned somewhat and prices have subsequently come down.
Today, you can buy the 5-coin 1999-S and 2001-S quarter proof sets for less than $7 each, but this is still more than what many of the other 50 States Quarters proof sets sell for these days — about $2 to $3, in most cases.
90% silver proof Statehood quarters list for about $4 to $7 each, and 5-piece proof sets containing those coins range from about $20 to $35 apiece — not bad if you’re looking for some state quarters with a little oomph in value.
A List Of State Quarter Errors
- Arizona Quarter Error
- Colorado Quarter Error
- Kansas Quarter Error
- Minnesota Quarter Error
- Oregon Quarter Error
- South Carolina Quarter Error
- Wisconsin Quarter Error
- Wyoming Quarter Error
Here are some great tips to help you find state quarter errors.
The Bottom Line…
While the 50 States Quarters program may begin to fade into the memories of many as the coming years pass on, I have little doubt that the series will continue to be a favorite set of coins that dedicated numismatists and novices alike will want to assemble in the future.
As long as all 50 state quarters can be found in circulation (and that should be the case for at least a couple decades to come), there will be people — young and old, rich and poor — looking through their change with great interest at the many artistic, inspiring, and truly educational images the Statehood quarters series has brought to the pockets of millions of Americans!
So, to summarize:
- None of the “normal” state quarters that you typically find in pocket change are rare.
- Any “regular” state quarter that you find in pocket change is worth 25 cents — no more, no less.
- Proof Statehood quarters are worth more than face value, but these are generally found only in collector sets.
- Copper-nickel clad proof state quarters are worth about $1 or $2 each, while 90% silver proofs are often worth $4 to $7 apiece.
- The most valuable coins from the 50 State Quarters series are errors that are hard to come by — but many are worth $50 or more.
Must read: Are The 50 State Quarters Cursed?