Proof coins from 1937 through 1972 were made from special dies with high relief and minor detail differences. Some of the circulation coins of 1956 through 1964 and 1969-D through 1972-D were also made from reverse dies with these same features. A variety of the 1964-D quarter occurs with the modified reverse normally found only on the clad coins.
In October of 1973, the Treasury announced an open contest for the selection of suitable designs for the Bicentennial reverses of the quarter, half dollar, and dollar, with $5,000 to be awarded to each winner. Twelve semifinalists were chosen, and from these the symbolic entry of Jack L. Ahr was selected for the quarter reverse. It features a colonial drummer facing left, with a victory torch encircled by 13 stars at the upper left. Except for the dual dating, “1776–1976,” the obverse remained unchanged. Pieces with this dual dating were coined during 1975 and 1976. They were struck for general circulation and included in all the Mint’s offerings of Proof and Uncirculated sets.
The United States Mint 50 State Quarters? Program begun in 1999 produced a series of 50 quarter dollar coins with special designs honoring each state. Five different designs were issued each year from 1999 through 2008. States were commemorated in the order of their entrance into statehood.
These are all legal tender coins of standard weight and composition. The obverse side depicting President George Washington was modified to include some of the wording previously used on the reverse. The modification was authorized by special legislation, and carried out by Mint sculptor-engraver William Cousins, whose initials were added to the truncation of Washington’s neck adjacent to those of the original designer, John Flanagan.
Each state theme was proposed, and approved, by the governor of that state. Final designs were created by Mint personnel.
Circulation coins were made at the Philadelphia and Denver mints. Proof coins were made in San Francisco.
Some statehood quarters were accidentally made with “dis-oriented” dies and are valued higher than ordinary pieces. Normal United States coins have dies oriented in “coin alignment,” such that the reverse appears upside down when the coin is rotated from right to left. Values for the rotated-die quarters vary according to the amount of shifting. The most valuable are those that are shifted 180 degrees, so that both sides appear upright when the coin is turned over (called medal alignment).
Manufacturing varieties showing die doubling or other minor, unintentional characteristics are of interest to collectors and are often worth premium prices.
At the ending of the U.S. Mint 50 State Quarters? Program a new series of quarter-dollar reverse designs was authorized to recognize the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Each of these coins, issued sequentially during 2009, has the portrait of George Washington, as in the past, and is made of the same weight and composition. Each coin commemorates the history, geography, or traditions of the place it represents.
Following up on the popularity of the 50 State Quarters? Program, Congress has authorized the production of new circulating commemorative quarters from 2010 to 2021. The coins will honor a site of “natural or historic significance” from each of the 50 states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. They will continue to bear George Washington’s portrait on the obverse.
Five designs will be released each year, in the order the coins’ featured locations were designated national parks or national sites. At the discretion of the secretary of the Treasury, this series could be extended an additional 11 years by featuring a second national park or site from each state, district, and territory.
In addition to the circulating quarters, a series of five-ounce silver bullion pieces are being coined each year with designs nearly identical to those of the America the Beautiful? quarters, with two exceptions: the size, which is three inches in diameter; and the edge, which is marked .999 FINE SILVER 5.0 OUNCE, rather than reeded as on the standard quarters.