Friday, April 20, 2007

Two Cents on Two Bits

The Washington quarter went into circulation last week, but not 'til today did any of 'em circulate around to me. Sure, every quarter is technically a "Washington quarter," what with George's profile on the obverse side, but the reverse side of our newest quarter honors our fair state.

Since 1999, the US Mint has issued five quarters per year for each of the 50 states, releasing them in order of statehood (Delaware was first; Washington is 42nd; Hawaii will be last, with its quarter scheduled for next year). The Washington design was chosen by Governor Gregoire, after Washingtonians picked it as our favorite in an opinion poll conducted last year. The two losing designs may be seen here and here; some ridiculous kids' ideas are here.

The winning design is fairly predictable, what with the salmon and trees and Mt. Rainier, though pretty much all the other states' designs are too. Most feature some combination of the state outline, the state motto or slogan, and a depiction of flora or fauna or a bit of landscape or major industry. New Hampshire's has its famous Old Man of the Mountain, even though his face has since slid off. Alabama's has Helen Keller (please, no jokes), and Indiana's has an Indy car. I like the Wisconsin quarter best: a hunk of cheese, an ear of corn, a dairy cow, and a banner with a single word: “Forward.”

These are my fingers adding the new quarter to my Whitman Coin Folder this afternoon. (Due to geographical complications, I only bother collecting coins from the Denver Mint; those from the Philadelphia Mint are rare in this part of the country.) My collection gets progressively cooler with each new quarter I add, but I wouldn't be surprised if one day spend 'em all on laundry or pinball.

See all the quarters here.

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