The Coin Series that Half of America Collected…

In 1999 the first 5 coins of a remarkable series made their way into the hands of the American public. Designed to give a boost to the nation’s interest in numismatics, these specially themed ‘State’ Quarter Dollars rapidly became the most popular collecting phenomenon in American history.

1999 State Quarters. Credit:


In 1993 a committee was formed to investigate ways to generate interest from younger collectors in the American numismatic market. Little did they know the ideas proposed in that very meeting would transcend all ages and interests and become the most widely collected series of coins in American history, and arguably, the world.

The key proposal was a collection of 50 new quarters – one for every state. 5 quarters were released a year over a ten year period, with the reverse designs representing the history and heritage of each state – a timeless reminder of the breadth and diversity of American culture. To make room for these intricate designs the familiar writing ‘Quarter Dollar’, ‘Liberty’ and ‘In God We Trust’ was moved onto the obverse.

The planning process to get such a momentous series of coins produced is estimated to have involved 3.5 million people, whether that was submitting design concepts or voting for their favourite.

The hard work resulted in a series of coins which are a true spectacle, each a miniature work of art. From the Wright Brothers Plane on the North Carolina coin, Mount Rushmore on the South Dakota coin, to Chimney Rock on the Nebraska coin, and the Grand Canyon on the Arizona coin, each design is a talking point and little piece of US history.



Despite their obvious popularity there was a time when their very survival was in jeopardy. Various reports state that the US Treasury was opposed to the idea, unconvinced by the figures and unsure of the concept. Nevertheless the State Quarters Programme made it through a strict feasibility study unscathed, and the first coins were struck in 1999 – the rest is history…

It’s estimated that nearly half of all Americans collected these coins in some form or another. That’s roughly 150 million people!

But as the series was technically intended for circulation it could sometimes take years for a collector to find all the quarters in their change. And as each coin was struck for just 10 weeks, never to be struck again, finding every single one of these coins would still take a monumental effort. Especially as a significant proportion of the coins were taken out of circulation straight away into private collections, making them harder to find than ever before.

The coins were so popular that in 2009, following the conclusion of the 50 State Quarters Program, a one year follow up series began featuring six additional Quarters that represented the six US jurisdictions that aren’t classified as states.

What’s more, these extra coins had a significantly lower mintage of 636,200,000 – a tiny amount compared to the 50 State Quarters Program that had its lowest mintage in 2008 with just 2,438,200,000 Quarters being issued.

These 56 US Quarters in total clearly make for an excellent collection of US coinage and it’s not surprising that this collection became the most successful numismatics program in history!


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2009 District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarters! Credit:


Start your very own journey with the collection of US State Quarters that Half of America Collected… and save yourself all the hard work of searching for each of these quarters individually.

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Five Fun Facts about US coins for American Independence Day!

Today is American Independence Day and we thought there could be no better way to join in the 4th of July celebrations than to share five fun facts you might not know about US coinage!

1) The reverses are struck upside down.

Did you know that on US coins, the reverses are stuck upside down? This is arguably due to the fact that originally, the Mint wanted to differentiate their coins from their medals. The medals’ faces are struck with the same orientation as they are supposed to be worn, and therefore when rotated, still show an upright image.


Upside down reverses. Credit:


2) By law, US coin designs must give “an impression emblematic of liberty.”

The USA, as a nation, are well known for being one of the most patriotic countries in the world. They uphold strong values of liberty and freedom, from everyday life to sporting events and even on their coinage! As a result of this, US coin designers are legally required to display an impression emblematic of liberty in their coin designs.


Statue of Liberty, a true symbol of patriotism.


3) The coinage act of 1792, establishing the U.S. Mint, made defacing, counterfeiting, or embezzling of coins by Mint employees punishable by death.

The death penalty is still legal in 31 US states and the coinage act of 1792 is still in place today. This states that any Mint employee caught defacing, counterfeiting or embezzling coins can be, in theory, sentenced to death. Whether or not this would be upheld in today’s court of law is debatable.


Defaced coin. Credit:


4) Origin of the “buck”.

This well-known slang term for an American dollar is thought to have originated in the early US frontier days when the hide of a male deer (a buck) was common currency, due to the scarcity of coinage. The term has since been adopted into everyday language and certainly seems to be here to stay for a while!


Buck. Credit:


5) The U.S. Mint’s coin production has grown over 131,000,000% since production first started in 1793.

The US Mint’s operation has grown and advanced greatly since the first mintage in 1972, when production consisted of 11,178 copper cents. Today the Mint produces an average of 14.7 million coins per day. The first mint in Philadelphia actually used horses to drive the machinery, whereas today, much more modern techniques are used and  greater numbers of coins can be produced.



So there we have it, five fun facts about US coinage! Whether they come in handy at your next quiz night, give you something interesting to bring up in conversation, or even spark your interest in collecting US coins, we hope you’ve enjoyed finding out more about US coins.


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