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Quarters: A Brief History

The history of the U.S. quarter spans multiple centuries and has seen various designs and changes. Listed below is a chronological overview of the evolution of the U.S. quarter:

Draped Bust Quarters (1796-1807): The Draped Bust Quarter was the first quarter-dollar coin issued by the United States Mint. It featured a portrait of Lady Liberty on the obverse, facing right with flowing hair, and an eagle on the reverse.

Capped Bust Quarters (1815-1838): The Capped Bust Quarter replaced the Draped Bust design. It featured a portrait of Liberty with a Phrygian cap on the obverse and an eagle with a shield on the reverse. 

Seated Liberty Quarters (1838-1891): The Seated Liberty Quarter featured a seated Liberty on the obverse, with a shield in her right hand and a pole with a liberty cap in her left hand. The reverse displayed an eagle with outstretched wings.

Barber Quarters (1892-1916): The Barber Quarter, designed by Charles E. Barber, featured a head of Liberty on the obverse facing right, wearing a crown-like cap. The reverse displayed an eagle with a shield.

Standing Liberty Quarters (1916-1930): The Standing Liberty Quarter introduced a new design that depicted a standing Liberty on the obverse, holding a shield and an olive branch. This design underwent modifications during its production to address issues with Liberty’s exposed breast, resulting in an alternate design. On the early issues, the date wore off easily, so a new “recessed” date was implemented as well. The reverse featured an eagle in flight which was also modified after the first year to include stars under the eagle.

Washington Quarters (1932-present): The Washington Quarter, introduced to commemorate the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth, has become the longest-running design for the U.S. quarter. The obverse features a profile portrait of George Washington, the first U.S. President, and the reverse initially depicted an eagle. However, in 1999, the U.S. Mint began a program called the 50 State Quarters Program™, in which the reverse of the Washington Quarter was changed annually to represent each U.S. state and several territories. Right after that program was complete, the America the Beautiful Quarters Program™ began in 2010, which featured a national park from each state and territory on the reverse. The reverse design of the Washington Quarter returned to featuring an eagle for just one year until replaced with the American Women Quarters™ Program started in 2022.

The U.S. quarter has undergone various changes in design and composition. Today, it remains an essential denomination in U.S. currency and a popular coin among collectors. 

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