Editorial | The five best state quarters

As children, some of us delighted in filling the slots on the United States quarter map. Collecting a quarter from each state was interesting, due solely to the individualized tails-end image imprinted on each one.

Since the 2000s, the United States Mint has printed some of its most beautiful coins to date, depicting national treasures from across the country and our territories. Here are the five best quarters.

No. 5: 2006 Nevada

Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor, Images via Wikimedia Commons

As the 36th coin released for the 50 State Quarters Program, Nevada’s quarter pictures a very American scene — wild stallions, snow capped mountains and the sun rising above the land. A quarter that will remain a classic earns its spot as our No. 5 for its simple beauty and ode to the American West.

No. 4: 2000 New Hampshire

Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor, Images via Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire was the ninth state to have its coin released for the 50 State Quarters Program. The coin depicts the Old Man of the Mountain, also known as the Great Stone Face. This beloved natural wonder was composed of five granite cliff ledges on Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hampshire, which appeared to resemble a misshapen human face when viewed from the north. For its strange features and compelling makeup, it earns the No. 4 spot.

No. 3: 2020 National Park of American Samoa

Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor, Images via Wikimedia Commons

American Samoa is a territory located 2,200 miles from Hawai’i that consists of six islands. The America the Beautiful Quarters Program quarters help raise awareness for national parks and other national sites across several states, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The main visual detail on the quarter is the Samoan fruit bat mother paired with her pup. This was intentionally chosen because fruit bats are nurturing parents. Although they are not typically seen by visitors of the territory, their unusualness was one of the factors that earned them a spot on the coin — yet it was their cuteness that earned them the No. 3 spot on this list.

No. 2: Tallgrass Prairie Quarter

Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor, Images via Wikimedia Commons

North American tallgrass prairies are iconic scenes associated with the American midwestern plains. The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, located in Kansas, has nearly 11,000 acres of grasslands and is located in the largest swath of tallgrass prairie left in North America — a worthy reason this diverse ecosystem is featured on the quarter and earns the No. 2 spot. That, and the beautiful Regal Fritillary butterfly gracing the visual.

No. 1: 2022 American Women Quarters Program Quarter

Clare Sheedy | Assistant Visual Editor, Images via Wikimedia Commons

Our No. 1 quarter is not a singular coin, but a collection from a new running series — the American Women Quarters Program.

This year marks the first of the four years until 2025 that iconic women who defined American history in some way are celebrated for their achievements. This year’s includes Maya Angelou, legendary author and poet; Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation; Nina Otero-Warren, the first Hispanic woman to run for Congress and leader in New Mexico’s women’s suffrage movement; and Anna May Wong, born as Wong Liu Tsong and the first Chinese-American film star in Hollywood.

The women set to be honored in the 2023 edition of the series include Bessie Coleman, Edith Kanaka’ole, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jovita Idar and Maria Tallchief.

The American quarter is not only a monetarily necessary foundation for our economy, but it’s also a representation of America’s best — whether it be people, places or other national icons.