Arrgh By all that is good and greathand-over yer pieces of eight Sea-faring folks in the 16th century would have quaked in their boots to hear this. But we 21st century bilge rats (read ignorant) would probably shrug and go back to our candy crush saga or our iPhones. But that is a sure fire way to get the end of a cut-lass, as in pirate parlance pieces of eight actually meant a lot of money. More precisely, a lot of quarters! The U.S. quarter was nicknamed the 2 pieces of eight or simply two bits, as the earlier Spanish quarter was literally 2 bits or wedges cut from the Spanish reale coin[1]. The Spanish origin In the later part of the 15th century, Spain did a reorganization of its coinage and produced the reales as a replacement for the German thaler. It was also called the Spanish thaler or dollar. The Spanish dollar became the world currency in the 1500s as most of the New World and European countries were using it as legal tender. The Spanish reale held court for almost three centuries in the known world owing to its uniform standard and purity. The Spanish used the denomination as opposed to the 1/5 denomination used everywhere else. The U.S. mint followed this and the U.S. quarter came to be 1/4th of the dollar. The First U.S. quarters The First U.S. quarter was struck in 1796 with a draped bust of the Liberty in obverse and an eagle on the reverse. Later the eagle was changed to the heraldic eagle. From 1796 to 1932, the obverse underwent many changes; from draped to a capped bust, then to the seated and standing Liberties. In 1932, for the 200th birthday celebration of George Washington, the Liberty in the obverse was replaced by the head of Washington [2]. 50 state quarters The 50 state quarters program between 1999 and 2008 came at a time when the interest in coins was waning. The U.S. mint wanted to revive the tradition of coin collecting by releasing 5 beautiful state coins every year. The customary heraldic eagle in the reverse was replaced by a design inspired by each of the 50 states. The program was a huge success as almost half of the American population got involved in collecting their state quarters. Each state held coin design competitions and selected the final one from among millions of entries. The U.S. mint made almost 470.1 million dollars in revenue and $136.2 million in seigniorage from the program [3]. The quarters were released in the order in which the states joined the union, starting with the Delaware coin. It sported the historic horse ride of Caesar Rodney who cast the deciding vote for our independence. District of Colombia and U.S. Territory quarters The District of Colombia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands received independence and became part of the United States of America at different times. Each of these territories were honored by a quarter each in 2009, as they werent part of any of the 50 states [4]. America the beautiful quarters Encouraged by the overwhelming response for the 50 state quarters program, America the beautiful quarters program was introduced in 2010. They were to depict the national parks and historic sites in the order they were established. This program will run till 2021 with 5 U.S. quarters released every year. The humble U.S. quarter has come a full circle after almost two centuries of its usage in the United States. From being called 2 bits, to a coin honoring every state in the country, it has come to be an integral part of the fabric of this nation! Browse our Quarters collection now References [1] http://whitenoise.kinja.com/otters-oddities-512697022 [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarter_(United_States_coin)#List_of_designs [3] http://www.usmint.gov/downloads/mint_programs/50sqReport.pdf [4] http://www.usmint.gov/kids/coinNews/dcTerritories/  

This entry was posted in Silver coins on November 05, 2015 by lavanya kannan