On December 1, 1997, President Bill Clinton signed the 50 States Commemorative Coin Program Act. This called for new designs on the quarter dollar, to honor each of the nation’s states. For ten years five different quarters were released annually, in the order in which the states joined the Union. The program began with the Delaware quarter in 1999 and ended with Northern Mariana Islands in 2009.
The way designs were selected varied somewhat across the series. For most states, citizens submitted ideas and the governor picked out several. Then a committee approved the final concept. After that a Mint artist developed the design—a little work of art small enough to fit on a one-inch coin.
The State quarter program created a sensation in the United States. The quarters are credited with introducing millions of Americans to the fun of coin collecting. Dozens of innovative products were created to help collect and store coins. Colorful Foam Collector Maps, library-quality Whitman Classic coin albums, and inexpensive folders are just a few.