The quarter is the United States’ 25-cent coin. The person on the obverse (heads) of the quarter is George Washington, our first president. He’s been on the quarter since 1932, the 200th anniversary of his birth. The right-facing portrait of Washington dates to 2022. Quarters before that showed him facing to the left.
The design on the reverse (tails) changes often. This year there are five different designs as part of the American Women Quarters™ Program. The program celebrates American women and the contributions they’ve made to this country. The women honored in 2023 are: Bessie Coleman, Edith Kanakaʻole, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jovita Idar, and Maria Tallchief.
The U.S. Mint made the first quarters in 1796. They were made of silver. The early quarters, like other silver coins, didn’t show the value on the coin. At that time only copper coins like pennies were required to show their denominations. People had to know the size and weight of a silver coin to know how much it was worth. To tell the difference between a silver quarter and a silver dollar, they knew the dollar weighed four times as much.
In 1804, the Mint marked the quarter with “25c,” meaning 25 cents. It was the first silver coin to show the value.
Today’s quarters are “clad,” which means coated. The inner core is pure copper and the outer covering is copper mixed with nickel. The Mint stopped making quarters with silver in 1965.
The first quarter designs showed a figure symbolizing liberty on the obverse. The reverse included a bald eagle, our national bird. In 1932, George Washington appeared on the obverse for the 200th anniversary of his birth. In the years since 1932, the Mint has used many different reverse designs. Some of the designs were part of special quarter programs to celebrate places or events and inspire coin collecting.
- Eagle (1932 to 1974 and 1976 to 1998)
- U.S. Bicentennial (1975 and 1976)
- 50 State Quarters Program (1999 to 2008)
- District of Columbia & U.S. Territories Quarters (2009)
- America the Beautiful Quarters Program (2010 to 2021)
- General George Washington Crossing the Delaware (2021)
Learn about other circulating coins.
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