- The 50 State Quarters
program was one of the most successful and ambitious United States Mint coin design programs of the last five decades. When it was launched in 1999, the Statehood Quarters
initiative captured the imagination of an entire nation, making evening news headlines as each new quarter was launched beginning with the nation's first state of Delaware and concluding with the 50th state of Hawaii in 2008.
The 50 State Quarters
inspired nearly 150 million Americans to collect coins and even became a cultural phenomenon, with Kermit the Frog of Muppets fame serving as the program's official "spokesfrog" and late-night host Conan O'Brien launching a popular long-running regular skit parodying the new quarters. The 50 State Quarters
program was originally authorized by legislation - and long publicized - as an educational homage to the 50 states. Even capped at "just" 50 coins over 10 years, it was a monumental program of unprecedented complexity and duration.
However, a provision in the 1997 Act that authorized the 50 State Quarters
program permitted the addition of Washington, D.C. and/or any of the nation's territories if they, too, became states prior to 2009. But none did, much to the disappointment of several lawmakers on Capitol Hill who wanted to see the District of Columbia and the nation's outlying territories honored on their own Statehood Quarters
Early on during the 50 State Quarters
program, motions were made to pass a bill that would extend the program by one more year to commemorate the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and America Samoa on their own special quarters. None of these efforts made much headway beyond the House of Representatives until January 23, 2007. Later that year, Representative Jose Serrano, a New Yorker born in Puerto Rico, ensconced the language from the successful House bill, which passed the Senate on September 6 and was signed by President George W. Bush on December 26, 2007.Read the entire article