United States Mint Director Henrietta Holsman Fore welcomed Delaware Congressman Michael Castle to the United States Mint facility in Philadelphia to mark the halfway point of the 50 State Quarters Program. It is estimated that more than 130 million Americans, nearly one in every household, collect the 50 State Quarters coins.
"Congressman Castle was the catalyst, authoring the legislation that launched this remarkable program, the most popular in United States Mint history," said Director Fore. "We are pleased the Congressman is joining us to commemorate this successful program at its halfway point."
The 50 State Quarters Program is a 10-year initiative (1999-2008) commemorating each of the 50 United States in the order they ratified the Constitution or were admitted into the Union. Under the program, U.S. quarter-dollar designs change five times each year. More than 21 billion state quarters have been minted since 1999. The Delaware quarter was the first one minted. In October 2003, the Arkansas quarter became the 25th quarter launched into circulation. The Michigan quarter will be introduced on January 26, 2004.
"The 50 State Quarters Program has proved a great success in America, and I am pleased to see we are at our halfway mark for 50 minted coins," said Congressman Castle. "In the United States Mint's history, this coin program is the most popular with over 130 million Americans collecting the state quarters. It is educational, fun and makes money -- four billion dollars to date to be exact. Now that is the sign of a successful government program, one that actually makes money. With 25 quarters issued and 25 more to go, these coins are integral to the history of our country and educating children and tourists about the American way of life."
In Fiscal Year 2003, the United States Mint contributed $585 million to the United States Treasury. It is estimated that the 50 State Quarters Program has contributed about four billion dollars to the Treasury since 1999, through seigniorage and profits from the sale of products for collectors.
"The United States Mint is profitable for taxpayers, and the 50 State Quarters Program has made it even more so," declared Director Fore.
The Director also noted that the quarters have served as exceptional teaching tools. Over the last two years, millions of lesson plans have been downloaded free from the United States Mint website for use in our nation's classrooms. The educational value of United States Mint programs has touched students, teachers, parents, and grandparents.
"The 50 State Quarters are small pieces of art, history and geography in your pocket," added the Director. "This is a program that not only brings families together, but also brings generations together."
Although each quarter is unique, the United States Mint has noted recurring themes that reflect what it is to be an American. The Delaware, New York and New Jersey quarters depict the great themes of independence and liberty. The Arkansas and Vermont quarters celebrate the richness of the land, and the Ohio and North Carolina quarters reflect our spirit of discovery.