On Quarters

I remember seeing a state quarter for the first time in early Spring 1999. I hadn’t been an active coin collector for a quarter century. So this US coin has a guy on horseback, and I did remember Delaware being the first state. A quick internet search later, and I was amazed to learn that ten years of new designs were on the way.

With hundreds of millions of specimens of each state to be found in pocket change, there was no way these items were going to be hoarded. Like Kennedy halves.

But they were very collectible.

Better than hoarding pennies, too. Maybe the US Mint had that in mind. A full set of 50 state quarters has a face value of $12.50. Maybe people would try to assemble a full set of both Philadelphia and Denver mint versions. That’s $25 socked away in every kid and collector’s drawer. And the country would still need more quarters for actual pocket change.

In 2009, territories and districts were added.

Now from 2010 till 2020, each state, territory, and district will have one of its national parks or monuments represented. Here’s my first find from last year’s Alaska:

national park quarterCan you make it out? I captured a blurry image intentionally. Most people aren’t going to notice much more than this as coins go from hand to pocket to restaurant table to car to slot machine. Even imaged more clearly on the web page, I don’t think it’s all that clear. In real life, a buffed-up new quarter isn’t going to show the contrast of a good line drawing. The sheep is lost in a messy landscape of less than one square inch.

If they wanted to keep the cash flowing, I would have taken GW off the front (a little controversy is always good) and put American artists in his place. Or done the state flowers or birds or such.

I now collect coins actively, more or less. But I’ve given up on quarters.

  • Twenty-two years of novelty grows boring.
  • The 2010-20 designs are distinctive from the state series, but mainly because they are much poorer.
  • With the depression we’re clawing out of (maybe) the US mint is producing quarters in much fewer numbers than they were in 1999-2001. Who wants to bother collecting things they can’t find? I keep a close eye on my pocket change, and I have maybe eight of the 18 issued since 2010.
  • Did I mention the title of this program? “America the Beautiful Quarter.” So my nation is now “the beautiful quarter.” A quarter of what?

I’d be interested in seeing a poll result: how many people collected the states, but ended it there?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to On Quarters

  1. LIam says:

    I’ve kept the quarters of both series that I’ve gotten (I am missing 2 of the territorial ones from 2009 – probably because minting plummeted in the wake of the Panic of 2008 – and only have about 40% of the new series issued to date, also in low minting years). The second series is proving to be somewhat repetitive due to its restrictive theme (national parks of some sort) – so SD in both series shows Mt Rushmore, just in different ways. And the design standards are too low. In the first series, Mississippi’s was by far the loveliest (the magnolia); too many states chose almost cartoonish designs. Massachusetts screwed the pooch: instead of the a good rendering fo Old Ironsides, it chose the Minuteman against a figure of the Commonwealth – not ugly, but far short of what it could have chosen (IIRC, children chose the final design…another mistake).

    I do love the 3/4 profile of Jefferson on the nickel; and I loved the resurrection of the bison on the nickel. That said, it’s time to bury the penny AND nickel and rework our coinage: the dime as the smallest denomination and size, the former nickel size becomes the half dollar (need to keep all coins decimal) or 40c, the current quarter size becomes the new dollar; the current half dollar size becomes a new $2 coin (the Canadians have the loonie and the twonie…) and the current dollar coin becomes a new $2.50 coin. Just ideas.

    BRing back the classic versions of Liberty from the golden era of American coinage. (The current 3/4 profile Sacagawea-as-Liberty was not as good as the full profile version.) I am not so much a fan of portraying specific people on coins or notes, other than perhaps Washington or Lincoln.

    Native flora and fauna would be nice, IF well designed.

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