A quarter dollar, or quarter, is a U.S. coin worth 25 cents, or one quarter of a dollar. It has been produced since 1796. The choice of 0.25 as a denomination, as opposed to 0.20, which is more common in other parts of the world, originated with the practice of dividing Spanish Milled Dollars into eight wedge-shaped segments (each called a “piece of eight”). At one time “two bits“, that is, two wedges, each wedge an eighth, thus a quarter of the Spanish real, was a common nickname for a quarter.

Current design

The current clad version is two layers of cupronickel, 75% copper and 25% nickel, on a core of pure copper. The total composition of the coin is 8.33% nickel, with the remainder copper. It weighs 5.670 grams (0.2000 avoirdupois oz, 1/80th of a pound, 0.1823 troy oz). The diameter is 0.955 inches (24.26 mm), and the width of 0.069 inches (1.75 mm). The coin has a 0.069-inch (1.75-mm) reeded (or milled) edge. Owing to the introduction of the clad quarter in 1965, it was occasionally called a “Johnson Sandwich” after Lyndon B. Johnson, the U.S. President at the time. It currently costs 11.14 cents to produce each coin (as of 2011). The U.S. Mint began producing silver quarters again in 1992 for inclusion in the annual Silver Proof set. Early quarters (before 1828) were slightly larger in diameter and thinner than the current coin.

The current regular issue coin is the George Washington quarter (showing George Washington) on the front. The reverse featured an eagle prior to the 1999 50 State Quarters Program. The Washington quarter was designed by John Flanagan. It was initially issued as a circulating commemorative, but was made a regular issue coin in 1934.

In 1999, the 50 State Quarters program of circulating commemorative quarters began; these have a modified Washington obverse and a different reverse for each state, ending the former Washington quarter’s production completely. On January 23, 2007, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 392 extending the state quarter program one year to 2009, to include the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories large enough to merit non-voting Congressional representatives: Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The bill passed through the Senate and was signed into legislation by President Bush on December 27, 2007. The typeface used in the state quarter series varies a bit from one state to another, but is generally derived from Albertus.

On June 7, 2006, a bill titled America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 was introduced to the House of Representatives. On December 23, 2008, President George W. Bush signed the bill into law. The America the Beautiful Quarters program began in 2010 and will continue for 12 years.

List of designs

Silver quarters

  • Draped Bust 1796–1807
  • Draped Bust, Small Eagle 1796
  • Draped Bust, Heraldic Eagle 1804–1807
  • Capped Bust 1815–1838
  • Capped Bust (Large Size), With Motto 1815–1828
  • Capped Bust (Small Size), No Motto 1831–1838
  • Seated Liberty 1838–1891
  • Seated Liberty, No Motto 1838–1865
  • Seated Liberty, With Motto 1866–1891
  • Barber 1892–1916
  • Standing Liberty 1916–1930
  • Standing Liberty (Type 1) 1916–1917
  • Standing Liberty (Type 2) 1917–1930
  • Washington Quarter 1932–1964(silver), 1992–1998 (Proof Only)
  • Washington Bicentennial 1975–1976 (all were dated 1776–1976) (40% Silver-clad Proof, not intended for circulation)
  • Washington statehood 1999–2008 (Proof Only)
  • Washington District of Columbia and U.S. territories 2009 (Proof Only)

Copper-nickel quarters

  • Washington Quarter 1965–1974, 1977–1998
  • Washington Bicentennial 1975–1976 (all were dated 1776–1976)
  • Washington statehood 1999–2008
  • Washington District of Columbia and U.S. territories 2009
  • Washington America the Beautiful Quarters 2010–2021
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