Since 1932, U.S. quarters have had the bust of George Washington on the front. A Heraldic Eagle was on the back of the coin from 1932 to 1974 and again from 1977 to 1998.
A Colonial Drummer Boy design was used in 1975 and 1976, as part of the country’s bicentennial.
In 1998, President Clinton approved the 50 State Quarters Program Act. Each of the U.S. states would be represented on the back of select quarters. The program was scheduled to run from 1999 until 2008, with five new quarters released every year for ten years.
Ohio was one of the 5 states represented in 2002. From the U.S. Mint:
Released on March 11, 2002, this is the 17th coin released in the 50 State Quarters Program and the second released in 2002. Ohio, admitted into the Union on March 1, 1803, themed the coin, Birthplace of Aviation Pioneers. The coin highlights the state’s contribution to the history of aviation. It features an early aircraft and an astronaut superimposed as a group on the outline of the state, and stars.
There was flack about why the Wright Brothers’ plane was included on the coin, since the Wright Flyer made its first flight in Kitty Hawk, NC. But in 2003, Congress officially declared Ohio as the “birthplace of aviation” over North Carolina, because Dayton was the home of Wilbur and Orville Wright, who were credited with inventing and flying the first aircraft. Here are other reasons why Ohio is the state of aviation.
Anyway, regardless of OH vs. NC, the Wright Flyer was the only time anything to do with aviation was on a U.S. coin in general circulation.
Well, until we get to 2023, anyway.
From the U.S. Mint:
The American Women Quarters Program is the first circulating coin program to exclusively honor women and their contributions to this country as the reverse theme. From 2022 through 2025, the Mint will release five designs each year recognizing a different American woman.
The women will be from ethnically, racially, and geographically diverse backgrounds and from a variety of fields. The program will celebrate familiar names such as author Maya Angelou and Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. It will also introduce Americans to under-recognized women such as Anna May Wong, the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.
Bessie Coleman was born in 1893, in Atlanta, Texas. One of thirteen children, her mother was Black and her father was of Native American and Black descent. She grew up poor, and “Brave Bessie” or “Queen Bess,” as she became known, faced the difficulties of both racial and gender discrimination in early 20th-century America. She was rejected from U.S. aviation schools as a result of her race and gender, but eventually learned French and traveled abroad so she could apply to aviation programs there. She got her international pilot’s license in 1921 (*cough* 2 years before Amelia Earhart obtained her U.S. license *cough*), and she completed the first public flight by an African American and Native American woman the following year.
Anyway, Bessie Coleman will appear on select U.S. quarters in 2023, along with Jovita Idar, a Mexican American journalist, activist and teacher; Edith Kanaka’ole, an indigenous Hawaiian composer, dancer and teacher; Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady and author, and Maria Tallchief, a Native American who became the first prima ballerina in the history of America. (click here for the U.S. Mint’s press release)
Coleman was *almost* on a U.S. coin once before. Congress announced in the late 20th century that it planned to issue a new U.S. circulating $1 coin that featured a woman. A prototype coin featuring the aviator was in the running, and at one point was even tied for second place in the Dollar Coin Advisory Committee’s voting. However, Sacagawea was the winning choice and the “golden dollar” with her likeness was minted for general circulation between 2000 and 2008.
But this time a Bessie Coleman coin is really happening ;-). It will be only the second time that aviation will have been represented on a U.S. coin in general circulation.
Feature Photo: StockSnap
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All these new designs encourages counterfeiting. Before, there was just one design for the quarter. Now there are so many different designs. With so many different designs, it is easy to sneak in Swedish, Korean, British, and other coins as counterfeit quarters.
Florida Quarter had a space shuttle, north Carolina had the first plane, Tuskegee quarter had a P-51 on it. Does the writer collect coins?
Not since she was about 10 (which was decades before the year 2000). That being said, the space shuttle doesn’t really count as aviation as much as space exploration. You’re right about the Tuskegee quarter, though. My bad.