A unique event in the history of the United States coinage began in 1999, when the U.S. Mint released the first five issues out of a total of 50 different quarters commemorating the 50 United States. The 50 State Commemorative Quarter Program (also known as the Statehood Quarter Program) is a circulating coin program consisting of Washington quarters with 50 unique reverse designs, each one commemorating a different state of the Union.
Released to the public at the rate of five different quarters per year for ten years, the coins are issued in the same order thae states entered the Union or, in the case of the thirteen original colonies, in the order they ratified the Constitution.
The reverse designs, proposed by each state and approved by the Secretary of the Treasury, are produced by the U.S. Mint staff engravers. Quarters for general circulation are struck both at Philadelphia and Denver Mints, while clad Proof and silver Proof versions are struck at the San Francisco Mint.
In order to provide as much room as possible on the reverse for the states' designs, the legends
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and
QUARTER DOLLARhave been moved to the obverse. To fit them there, Washinton's portrait has been slightly reduced in size, and the date moved to the reverse.