Florida Guide > Miscellaneous
The 50 State Quarters Programme
Our fascination with State Quarters began several years ago when we first visited Florida, and we now have a substantial collection of these interesting coins.
In 1999 the US Federal Government began releasing commemorative quarter coins on a regular basis. These unique quarter coins were originally designed to heighten awareness of the geography and history of this amazing country. Almost half of the US population began collecting these coins, and the ’50 State Quarters Programme’ has since become the most successful numismatic programme in history, making the government an amazing $3. 88 billion from coins being taken out of circulation by collectors. This programme started in 1999 and although due to end in 2008, it has now been extended by a year.
A new commemorative coin is released every 73 days, or every quintile, so five designs are featured each year. The quarters are usually designed by a resident of that state, and feature a design which honours the state’s unique traditions, history and symbols. These quarters are released in the same order that the states joined the union.
At first there were only going to be 50 coins, but since the inception of the programme the United States Congress has introduced legislation five times to extend the programme by a year, and to include the District of Columbia (Washington DC) as well as the Commonwealth’s Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico, as well as the US territories of American Samoa, Guam and the US Virgin Isles.
The very first coin was the Delaware quarter, which depicted the historic horseback ride of Casear Rodney, who was a delegate to the Continental Congress, and who, despite suffering from cancer and asthma, set off on the 80 mile journey to Philadelphia. After a difficult journey which included thunderstorms and a severe summer heat-wave, he arrived in time to cast the deciding vote in favour of independence. The coin bears the words, ‘The First State. ’
One of our favourite coins is, of course, that of Florida, which was issued in 2004 and depicts the shuttle, a 16th century Spanish galleon and a strip of land with 2 Sabal palm trees on it, with the inscription, ‘Gateway to Discovery. ’ It was the 27th coin to be issued and Florida became the 27th state to join the American Union in 1845. It was Ponce de Leon, who named the region in 1513 ‘Pascua Florida’ meaning Flowery Easter. ’ Florida is, of course, home to the Kennedy Space Center, which has been home to most of the famous scientific space expeditions, including the first Man on the moon, the launch of many shuttles and the Voyager probe currently exploring deep space. The coins design shows how Florida continues to play an important role in the quest for knowledge and discovery. The Sabal palm is, of course, Florida’s state palm, and it can be seen all over the country.
New for 2008 will be Alaska’s contribution, a coin which will be the fourth quarter of the year and which will depict a grizzly bear emerging from a river, with a salmon in its jaw. You can see the North Star displayed above the description, ‘The Great Land. ’ Of course, the grizzly bear and the salmon symbolize the abundant wildlife and great natural beauty of this, the 49th state. The fourth quarter released by the United States Mint in 2008 commemorates the State of Alaska. It is the 49th coin to be issued in the Mint’s ‘50 State Quarters Program. ’ On January 3, 1959, Alaska became the 49th state to be admitted into the Union. The reverse of the Alaska quarter features a grizzly bear emerging from the waters clutching a salmon in its jaw. The coin’s design includes the North Star. Sold by Russia to America in 1867 for $7. 2 million, when they could no longer afford to maintain the colony established to protect its lucrative fur trading industry, it later became apparent that is was a very rich gain for the United States, due to the discovery of both gold and oil.
Another fascinating coin is the Hawaiian quarter, which is the fifth and final one released in 2008. Named the ‘Aloha State’ it became the 50th state to be admitted to the union in 1959. It features the Hawaiian monarch, King Kamehameha 1 stretching his hand towards the eight main Hawaiian islands. The inscription is the state motto, ‘The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness. ’ This monarch unified the islands into one kingdom in the early 1800’s. He maintained traditions whilst introducing important changes, helping to make Hawaii what it is today.
So if you visit Florida, look out for these interesting coins which will tell you much about the states of America, and which are well worth collecting.
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