Coin enthusiasts will recall the much-ballyhooed rollout of a series of state quarters produced by the U.S. Mint during a 10-year period early this century, back when consumers were still inclined to carry change around in their pockets or purses. Many of those quarters have been lost or discarded in this age of Apple Pay — meaning some of those still around are worth a lot more than 25 cents.
In fact, certain rare state quarters that contain errors or other special features can fetch as much as $100 on the collector’s market, according to experts.
The program was launched in 1999 and ran through 2008, according to the U.S. Mint. During that time, a separate quarter was minted for all 50 states. The head of each coin had the familiar portrait of George Washington, while the tail featured a design related to a particular state (e.g., North Carolina featured the Wright Brothers flight and California featured Yosemite Valley).
In many states, governors asked residents to submit design concepts and an advisory group was appointed to oversee the process, Nexstar Media reported. In 33 states, the governor selected the final design. In the other 17, citizens made the selection.
The U.S. Mint issued five new quarters each year in the order that the states ratified the Constitution or were admitted into the Union. In 2009, the Mint made six more quarter designs for Washington, D.C. and the five U.S. territories as part of the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters Program.
The Mint produced and shipped 34.3 billion quarters during the program, according to Nexstar, with the average annual mintage reaching 3.5 billion quarters. At least 400 million of each quarter was minted.
Some states produced more than 1 billion — all of which are concentrated along the East Coast, including Virginia, Connecticut, South Carolina, New York, Maryland, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and North Carolina. Because those states produced so many quarters, they are more likely to have more in circulation today, meaning they might not have a whole lot of value beyond 25 cents.
However, a dozen states put less than 500,000 quarters into circulation. The following five state quarters might be the hardest to find based on mintage data, Nexstar reported, which theoretically pushes their values up:
- Oklahoma: 416.6 million minted
- Maine: 448.8 million minted
- Wisconsin: 453.2 million minted
- Missouri: 453.2 million minted
- Alabama: 457.4 million minted
Other state quarters with less than a half-billion minted are Arkansas, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Florida, Minnesota and New Mexico.
How Much Are These Coins Worth Today?
Those in mint condition and marked with a “D” or “P” — meaning they were produced in Denver or Philadelphia — could be worth as much as $3.50 if they have a certain state design, according to a 2022 report from WATE.com that cited Coin Trackers data. Ohio quarters marked with an “S” (produced in San Francisco) might be worth as much as $15.
But you can get a lot more than that if you’re lucky enough to have coins with certain errors or features. Here are some of the most valuable state coins, according to a recent blog on the Gainesville Coins website:
1999-P Delaware ‘Spitting Horse’ Quarter: $10 to $20
The “Spitting Horse” refers to a raised line on the reverse of the coin that extends from the area of the horse’s mouth down to the left. It can be seen between the letters “C” and “A” in the name “CAESAR.” The raised line was caused by a die break that appeared on a number of these coins.
2004-D ‘Extra Leaf’ Wisconsin Quarter: $50 to $65
The “Extra Leaf” comes in two varieties: the Extra High Leaf and Extra Low Leaf errors. Both refer to the appearance of a long leaf on the lower left of the corn stalk on the tail of the coin, between the main left leaf and wheel of cheese. On the Extra High Leaf, a slender leaf appears near the top of the cheese wheel and terminates into the corn stalk’s larger main left leaf. On the Extra Low Leaf, the addition arcs across the top of the cheese wheel, with both ends disappearing behind it.
2005-P Minnesota Quarter ‘Doubled Dies’ Quarter: $5 to $100
The “Double Die” error refers to the appearance of an extra spruce tree or trees on the reverse of the quarter. According to Gainesville Coins, the most prominent of these doubling varieties is a “ghostlike” outline of an extra spruce tree around the third and fourth primary trees to the right of the large outline of the Minnesota state borders.
1999-S Pennsylvania Proof Silver Quarter: $35
The Pennsylvania state quarter was the second design released in the series in 1999, but its mintage of only 804,565 is “exceptionally low” compared to other states. That low mintage increases its value, as does the fact that it’s 90% pure silver.
1999-S New Jersey Proof Silver Quarter: $30
Here’s another silver “proof coin” minted specifically for collectors. Proofs are special pieces that are struck multiple times for the “sharpest details possible,” according to Gainesville Coins, boosting their value on the collectibles market.
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