Get to Know the U.S. with Quarters!

While the first quarter was made in 1796, it took almost 200 years for it to transform into the coin we know today. The first quarter had Lady Liberty on the heads (obverse) side and, while it was always worth 25 cents, the quarter dollar coin didn’t have a denomination on it. The way to tell that it was different from a dollar, which was also a coin, was by its weight. The dollar weighed four times more than a quarter!

The quarter we use today has President George Washington on it, but he didn’t appear there until 1932, on the 200th anniversary of his birth. The tails (reverse) side of the quarter have been actively changed since 1999, with the 50 States Quarters® Program (1999-2008), the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters Program (2009) and now The America the Beautiful Quarters® Program (present – 2021) which showcases iconic scenes from national parks and other national sites, one for each state, U.S. territory, and in the District of Columbia.

Evolution of President George Washington's profile on the quarter (dollar) coin. Photo courtesy of

Evolution of President George Washington's profile on the quarter (dollar) coin. Photo courtesy of


Share and Compare!

As you just read, there are a great many quarter designs in circulation, all showcasing features of the states, territories and district that made up the United States of America. So, start looking at them! Check your pockets, piggy banks and in between couch cushions and compare their designs. Explore the designs of the quarters you find. If they’re for a state, why do you think the U.S. Mint included the design components they did? What national parks and sites do you recognize? Research everything you don’t know and learn together with your children! 

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