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What Is the History of the Florida State Quarter?

By Ron Marr
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Florida state quarter was the 27th coin released in the United States Mint's 50 State Quarters® Program. It was made available to the general public on 29 March 2004. During an approximately 10-week period, the Denver and Philadelphia Mints produced 241,600,000 and 240,200,000 of the quarters, respectively. The coin's order of appearance in the series was derived from the fact that Florida was the 27th state to be admitted to the Union.

This date of the release of the Florida state quarter was in keeping with the intent and goals of the program's overall objectives. The 50 State Quarters® Program was a result of a federal law — The 50 States Commemorative Coin Program Act — passed by the U.S. Congress in 1997. The program was launched in 1999 and authorized the design and manufacture of coins intended to honor each state. Five different state quarters were produced annually over a span of 10 years. Production dates were established that allowed each quarter to be released in the respective order of official statehood or ratification of the state's constitution.

The obverse, or front, of this quarter — as is true of all the coins in the program — features an engraving of George Washington. The words on that side of the coin are "In God We Trust," "United States of America," "Liberty," and "Quarter Dollar." The reverse of the coin holds the specific design that commemorates Florida. These engravings consist of a Spanish galleon, sabal palm trees and the Space Shuttle. Slogans found on the quarter's reverse are "E Pluribus Unum" and "Gateway to Discovery."

The depictions on the reverse of the Florida state quarter represent historical milestones. The galleon is meant to acknowledge Spanish explorers Ponce de León and Hernando DeSoto. Both men explored the state in the 1500s, with the former giving it the name Pascua Florida, which means "flowery Easter." The image of the space shuttle pays homage to Cape Kennedy, the launching point of not only all shuttle flights but also the manned capsules used in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. The sabal palm was designated the state tree of Florida in 1953.

The person who submitted the winning design for the Florida state quarter was Ralph Butler; the engraver was T. James Farrell. The Florida state quarter weighs 0.2 ounces (about 5.7 g) and has a diameter of about 1 inch (about 24.3 mm). The coin's thickness is 0.07 inches (about 1.8 mm). The quarter's composition is 91.67 percent copper and 8.33 percent nickel.

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Discussion Comments
By kentuckycat — On Feb 29, 2012

What I like most about the quarter for the state of Florida is that it did not pick designs, like Disney World, or something touristy, that brings about negative feelings towards the state.

I feel like they made the right decision by trying to depict the history of the state of Florida as opposed to its economic accomplishments or other symbols associated with the state that are over used, like alligators.

I have to say that I wonder who decided exactly what the symbols would be for this quarter and how he or she determined that it would be the right things to depict on the quarter?

By Emilski — On Feb 29, 2012

@JimmyT - I agree. The depiction on the Florida state quarter is a very good one as it has multiple symbols depicting the state's history and culture and shows how far the state of Florida has come along in it's history.

What I did find surprising is that they were smart enough to choose the route to depict multiple symbols on their state quarter and try to depict their state history as best they can through symbolism.

Too many times have I seen state quarters, flags, and so on that will only pick one symbol or a symbol that I do not see as appropriately depicting the culture or the history of the state.

I feel that Florida does a very nice job in doing so as they picked simple symbols that bring the state full circle and allow the quarter to express how Florida is unique as opposed to other states.

By JimmyT — On Feb 28, 2012

@Izzy78 - I absolutely agree with you. It seems to me like the quarter for the state of Florida wanted to connect the whole history of Florida from its discovery to the discovery of space.

I find it very interesting that they chose to go this route, but do not find it at all surprising.

The state of Florida is known to be probably the first current state that was settled by outside explorers and this was during the 1500's, well before Jamestown of the Puritan settlements of the 1600's.

I am glad that they included this aspect into the equation and sought to show how old the state actually is and be proud to show that its discovery was an epic event not just in Florida state history, but in American history as well.

By Izzy78 — On Feb 27, 2012
I have to say that I really really like the Florida state quarter. I know some people feel differently simply due to the fact that it has quite a different array of things depicted on the quarter that do not connect with each other, but I really like the explore ship from the 1500's as well as the space shuttle.

These two to me being depicted on the same quarter seem to show how far that the state of Florida has gone over the years in their societal and technological advances as a state.

By choosing to depict the two together it seems to me like they were trying to show the age of discovery for the state of Florida as well as the age of space exploration, that Florida is known for.

The palm tree is also a symbol of the state that people think of when they think of Florida and this leads the quarter to fully represent the state as a whole.

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