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Coin Of the Month

Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin

2008 Hawaii Quarter

I picked Hawaii's quarter as November's Coin of the Month.  I started getting to know Hawaii on the Hawaii quarter page, but more searching revealed even more.

Hawaii's quarter shows its eight main islands, but there are actually more than 100 islands in the chain.  The islands are actually the tops of underwater volcanic mountains, together forming the largest mountain range in the world (though most of it is under water).  Although you have to travel some 1500 miles to get from one end of Hawaii to the other, it's one of the smallest states in actual land area.  Only Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island are smaller.

Hawaii's good weather and rich volcanic soil makes it a great place to grow food like sugar, pineapples, and macadamia nuts.  Since the temperature in summer and winter are pretty much the same, people grow flowers and crops and eat and play outdoors all year round.

Now here's a little bit about the man on the coin, King Kamehameha I, also known as Kamehameha the Great.  He was born around 1758 on the island of Hawai'i, the largest of the state's islands.  Apparently, there were prophecies about Prince Kamehameha (the name means "the very lonely one") becoming a future leader.

These prophecies scared his grandfather, King Alapai, so much that he ordered that the baby prince be put to death.  However, the prince was hidden and raised in secret.  In 1782, Kamehameha and one of his cousins became co-rulers of Hawaii.  When the cousin died through war in 1792, Kamehameha became the sole ruler.

By 1795, the king had brought the islands of Maui, Lāna'i, Moloka'i, and O'ahu under his control.  Through peaceful talks, he acquired Kaua'i and Ni'ihau in 1810.  He died on May 8, 1819, in Kailua on Hawai'i, having united all the inhabited islands under one government for the first time.


Image shows Hawaii quarter reverse with standard inscriptions.
Reverse:  A statue of King Kamehameha I faces the eight major islands of Hawaii.  The state's motto, in Hawaiian, is inscribed beneath the islands.

Image of quarter obverses with standard inscriptions.
Obverse:  All the new quarters show the traditional portrait of George Washington, with some minor changes.  The bust is smaller and the legends have been moved.  Place your mouse over the image to see the former design.

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