9 Rarest State Quarters Released by the US Mint

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The United States Mint’s 50 State Quarters Program, launched in 1999, is the most successful numismatic program in the history of the United States. The program ran for 10 years and was aimed at supporting the new generation of coin collectors.

5 new quarters were released every year to commemorate the nation’s states in order of their admission to the Union. The reverse side design incorporated the unique images honoring each of the states. The obverse design was slightly altered to accommodate the state design on the reverse.

Each of these quarters was produced for about 10 weeks. The first one was released in January 1999, celebrating Delaware, and the last one was issued in November 2008, commemorating Hawaii.

Here we list 9 rarest state quarters based on the number of their mintage. The values of these state quarters are not always directly proportionate to the rarity as the error coins often fetch higher values than the regular state quarters.

  1. Iowa State Quarter
  2. Mintage: 465,200,000
    Proof: 2740684
    Release Date: August 30, 2004
    Engraver: John Mercanti
    Iowa State Quarter
    photo source: www.usmint.gov

    The Iowa State Quarter was the 29th coin released as part of the 50 State Quarter Program. It is the 9th-rarest state quarters ever minted. The design incorporates an artwork of the artist Grant Wood, who is known for his painting titled American Gothic.

    The painting used in the coin design was called Arbor Day. It features a schoolhouse along with teachers and students planting a tree. Towards the top of the coin is inscribed, ‘Foundation in Education’.

    Ideas were invited from the citizens of Iowa, who submitted more than 5000 entries. However, the selection committee couldn’t agree on any of the design ideas they received and finally decided to use the artwork of Grant Wood.

    Did you know?

    It was the first state quarter design with the artist’s name prominently inscribed on it.

  3. Illinois State Quarter
  4. Mintage: 463,200,000
    Proof: 3408516
    Release Date: January 2, 2003
    Engraver: Donna Weaver
    Illinois State Quarter
    photo source: www.usmint.gov

    Illinois State Quarter was the 21st coin released as part of the series. The state of Illinois is known as the ‘Land of Lincoln’ as President Lincoln grew up in the state. To commemorate this fact, the design of the state quarter featured the young Lincoln within an outline of the state.

    The design also depicts an outline of a farm and the Chicago skyline. The coin is bordered by twenty-one starts signifying Illinois’s place as the 21st state in the union.

    Did you know?

    The design for this coin was created by young school children from Illinois. Three main categories were decided, including history, agriculture, and industry of the state. More than 6,000 entries were received, and based on them, five designs were created by the US Mint. Governor Ryan took the final call.

  5. Michigan State Quarter
  6. Mintage: 459,600,000
    Proof: 2740684
    Release Date: January 26, 2003
    Engraver: Donna Weaver
    Michigan State Quarter
    photo source: www.usmint.gov

    The Michigan State Quarter was the 26th release of the series. The reverse of the coin features the Great Lakes bordering the state of Michigan. Compared to other state quarters, the design is simple and lacks symbolism.
    A total of 4,300 designs were received from the residents, and four among them were selected for the final round.

    Those design ideas included Michigan State Outline with Great Lakes and Mackinac Bridge, Michigan State Outline with Great Lakes and State Icons, Michigan State Outline with Great Lakes and the Automobile Industry Icons, and Michigan State Outline with Mackinas Bridge and Automobile Industry Icons. The design that was finally chosen was added to the final list at the end.

    Did you know?

    After the quarter was released, CoinWorld wrote, “Out of the first 50 quarters, the Michigan quarter is the only quarter that does not depict something of interest within the state, the people of Michigan, or any major accomplishment of its citizens. Next time we are all in space, we must remember to look for the outline of Michigan.”

  7. Arkansas State Quarter
  8. Mintage: 457,800,000
    Proof: 3408516
    Release Date: October 20, 2003
    Engraver: John Mercanti
    Arkansas State Quarter
    photo source: www.usmint.gov

    The Arkansas State Quarter was the 25th coin released as part of the program. The design celebrates the natural beauty of the state of Arkansas.

    At the center of the design, a large diamond represents the Crater of Diamonds State Park. To the left, there are rice stalks, and on the right, a mallard is flying. At the bottom, there is a lake, and in the background, there are pines.

    Governor Mike Huckabee invited design ideas from the residents, and 9320 submissions were made. The top three designs own $1,000 each. The final design was built on the artwork of Ariston Jackson.

    Did you know?

    The Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only place on earth where the general public can go and search for real diamonds located in their original volcanic source.

  9. Alabama State Quarter
  10. Mintage: 457,400,000
    Proof: 3408516
    Release Date: March 17, 2003
    Engraver: Norman E. Nemeth
    Alabama State Quarter
    photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

    Alabama State Quarter was the 27th release in this series. The design commemorates the life and achievements of Helen Keller. The design shows Keller reading a book written in braille.

    Helen Keller’s name is mentioned in English as well as in braille. Towards the top of the coin, a banner reads, “Spirit of Courage.” Branches and flowers are depicted on either side of Keller.

    Did you know?

    According to the US Mint, the flowers that grace the sides of the coin are magnolias with long leaf pine branches. However, botanists think the flower is not magnolia but red camellia. Interestingly, the state flower of Alabama is not the magnolia but actually the camelia.

  11. Wisconsin State Quarter
  12. Mintage: 453,200,000
    Proof: 2740684
    Release Date: October 25, 2004
    Engraver: Alfred Maletsky
    Wisconsin State Quarter
    photo source: www.usmint.gov

    2004 Wisconsin State Quarter is the 30th coin released for the 50 State Quarter Program. The design celebrates the rich tradition of agriculture and farming in the state of Wisconsin. The image of a head of a cow is seen on the left of the coin. On the right, there is corn and a wheel of cheese.

    The Wisconsin State Quarter is well known among the collectors because of the error in the design. In some coins, an extra leaf could be spotted on the left side of the corn ear, close to the top leaf. This variety is known as the ‘Extra Leaf High’ variety. The variety known as the ‘Extra Leaf Low’ has an extra leaf on the left of the corn ear touching the cheese wheel.

    It is estimated that around 3000 examples of high leaf variety and 2000 of the low leaf variety were circulated.

    Did you know?

    It was the last project of the engraver Alfred Maletsky. After the errors were spotted, a press release issued by the US Mint said, “it is assumed that someone added extra leaf as a sort of “retirement celebration.”

  13. Missouri State Quarter
  14. Mintage: 453,200,000
    Proof: 3408516
    Release Date: August 4, 2003
    Engraver: Alfred Maletsky
    Missouri State Quarter
    photo source: www.usmint.gov

    2003 Missouri Quarter is the 24th coin released in the program. The design commemorates the expedition of Lewis and Clark. The image shows Lewis and Clark traveling up the Missouri River on a canoe boat. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Arch can be seen in the background, along with some trees on both sides of Lewis and Clark.

    Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Lieut. William Clark began their journey towards the west in 1804. Two years later, they ended their journey in St. Louis, Missouri. It is a major event in the history of American exploration. The design also incorporates the name of the exploration group Corps of Discovery towards the top of the coin.

    Did you know?

    The designer of the coin, Paul Jackson, was highly dissatisfied with the design changes done by the US Mint. Jackson was an artist who submitted the design as part of the competition set up by the governor’s office. He publicly criticized the revised design and appeared on several talk shows. After this controversy, US Mint officials announced they no longer accept designs from the citizens. Although they agreed to receive written ideas but not the design layouts.

  15. Maine State Quarter
  16. Mintage: 448,800,000
    Proof: 3408516
    Release Date: June 2, 2003
    Engraver: Donna Weaver
    Maine State Quarter
    photo source: www.usmint.gov

    Maine Quarter was the 23rd coin released as part of the program. The coin design incorporates an image of a lighthouse sitting on a granite coast, and a schooner in the sea can be seen in the background.

    The lighthouse depicted in this image is called the Pemaquid Point Light. It is a historic lighthouse located in Bristol, Maine. President John Quincy Adams commissioned the lighthouse in 1827 to illuminate the area near the New Harbor. It is significant for the state of Maine because the light helped prevent shipwrecks that were frequent in that area.

    Did you know?

    The residents of Maine were asked to submit their designs for the coin. 200 entries were received, and two were selected for the final round. The other design that featured Mount Katahdin was preferred by the majority of numismatists. However, the US Mint finally chose this one and faced criticism from experts.

  17. Oklahoma State Quarter
  18. Mintage: 416,600,000
    Proof: 2078112
    Release Date: January 28, 2008
    Engraver: Phebe Hemphill
    Oklahoma State Quarter
    photo source: www.usmint.gov

    2008 D Oklahoma Quarter is the rarest state quarter produced as part of the State Quarters Program. It was the 46th coin of the series.

    The reverse design features the state bird Scissortail Flycatcher and the state flower Indian Blanket. The image depicts a Scissortail Flycatcher in flight from left to right. The distinctive tail feathers of the bird are visible.

    A wreath of flowers and branches surrounds the bird at the bottom of the coin. The wreath includes the Indian Blankets and other similar wildflowers.

    Did you know?

    This coin was produced in such a low number due to the ongoing recession the country was going through at that time.


Head of Content at Rarest.org


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