The United States Mint’s “50 State Quarters” series was a 10-year program that honored each of the nation’s states in the order they ratified the Constitution, or were admitted to the Union. The Mint launched the initiative on January 4, 1999 with the release of the Delaware Quarter, and the series concluded on November 3, 2008 with the Hawaii Quarter. Each coin was produced for approximately 10 weeks and will never be minted again. The 50 State Quarters series subsequently became the most
popular numismatic program in history. The obverse of each quarter features a portrait of President George Washington, as designed by William Cousins. Cousins based the image on the original Washington Quarter obverse, which was designed by John Flanagan. This design has been used for the obverse of every coin in the 50 State Quarter series.
The reverse of each quarter honors one of the 50 states, with a design symbolic of its unique history and traditions. Each state governor had a substantial role in determining the design that would represent their state. The majority of governors followed a process that
involved the citizens of the state or an appointed committee to create potential design concepts based upon Mint guidelines. The Mint stipulated that each quarter must carry a dignified design of which the people of the United States would be proud. Certain
design elements were also prohibited, including state flags, or images of any person living or deceased.
Once the state governors selected their final design concepts, they submitted them to
the Secretary of Treasury for approval. Mint engravers executed all final design concepts approved by the Secretary of Treasury. These final designs would be reviewed by the governor, the Commission of Fine Arts, and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee. Final approval for each state’s design was at the sole discretion of the Secretary of Treasury.
The 50 State Quarters Program reached completion in 2008. In 2009, the U.S. Mint began issuing quarters under a program known as the “District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarter Program.” This program honored the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The same obverse design used in the 50 State Quarters Program was used along with a unique reverse
design for each of the six locations. Though the Territories Program was authorizedunder a separate legislative Act, it is generally seen as a natural extension of the 50 State Quarters program.