A coin is a small, round piece of metal or plastic used as a medium of exchange or legal tender. They are standardized in weight, produced in large quantities at a mint in order to facilitate trade, they are most issued by a government. Coins are metal or alloy, or sometimes made of synthetic materials, they are disc shaped. Coins made of valuable metal are stored in large quantities as bullion coins. Other coins are used as money in everyday transactions; the highest value coin in circulation is worth less than the lowest-value note. In the last hundred years, the face value of circulation coins has been lower than the value of the metal they contain, for example due to inflation. If the difference becomes significant, the issuing authority may decide to withdraw these coins from circulation issuing new equivalents with a different composition, or the public may decide to melt the coins down or hoard them. Exceptions to the rule of face value being higher than content value occur for some bullion coins made of copper, silver, or gold, intended for collectors or investors in precious metals.
Examples of modern gold collector/investor coins include the British sovereign minted by the United Kingdom, the American Gold Eagle minted by the United States, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf minted by Canada, the Krugerrand, minted by South Africa. While the Eagle, Maple Leaf, Sovereign coins have nominal face values, the Krugerrand does not. A great quantity of coinage metals and other materials have been used to produce coins for circulation and metal investment: bullion coins serve as more convenient stores of assured metal quantity and purity than other bullion. Metal ingots, silver bullion or unmarked bars were in use for exchange among many of the civilizations that mastered metallurgy; the weight and purity of bullion would be the key determinant of value. In the Achaemenid Empire in the early 6th century BC, coinage was yet unknown, barter and to some extent silver bullion was used instead for trade; the practice of using silver bars for currency seems to have been current in Central Asia from the 6th century BC.
Coins were an evolution of "currency" systems of the Late Bronze Age, where standard-sized ingots, tokens such as knife money, were used to store and transfer value. In the late Chinese Bronze Age, standardized cast tokens were made, such as those discovered in a tomb near Anyang; these were replicas in bronze of earlier Chinese currency, cowrie shells, so they were named Bronze Shell. The earliest coins are associated with Iron Age Anatolia of the late 7th century BC, with the kingdom of Lydia. Early electrum coins were not standardized in weight, in their earliest stage may have been ritual objects, such as badges or medals, issued by priests; the unpredictability of the composition of occurring electrum implied that it had a variable value, which hampered its development. Most of the early Lydian coins include no writing, only an image of a symbolic animal. Therefore, the dating of these coins relies on archaeological evidence, with the most cited evidence coming from excavations at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus called the Ephesian Artemision, site of the earliest known deposit of electrum coins.
Because the oldest lion head "coins" were discovered in that temple, they do not appear to have been used in commerce, these objects may not have been coins but badges or medals issued by the priests of that temple. Anatolian Artemis was the Πὀτνια Θηρῶν, it took some time before ancient coins were used for trade. The smallest-denomination electrum coins worth about a day's subsistence, would have been too valuable for buying a loaf of bread; the first coins to be used for retailing on a large-scale basis were small silver fractions, Ancient Greek coinage minted by the Ionian Greeks in the late sixth century BC. Many early Lydian and Greek coins were minted under the authority of private individuals and are thus more akin to tokens or badges than to modern coins, though due to their numbers it is evident that some were official state issues; the earliest inscribed coins are those of Phanes, dated to 625–600 BC from Ephesus in Ionia, with the legend ΦΑΝΕΟΣ ΕΜΙ ΣΗΜΑ, or just bearing the name ΦΑΝΕΟΣ.
The first electrum coins issued by a monarch are those minted by king Alyattes of Lydia, for which reason this king is sometimes mentioned as the originator of coinage. The successor of Alyattes, king Croesus, became associated with great wealth in Greek historiography, he is credited with issuing the Croeseid, the first true gold coins with a standardised purity for general circulation. And the world's first bimetallic monetary system circa 550 BCE. Herodotus mentioned the innovation made by the Lydians: "So far as we have any knowledge, they were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins, the first who sold goods by retail" Coins spread in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, leading to the development of Ancient Greek coinage and Achaemenid coinage, further to Illyrian coinage. Standardized Roman currency
Sheldon coin grading scale
The Sheldon Coin Grading Scale is a 70-point coin grading scale used in the numismatic assessment of a coin's quality. The American Numismatic Association based its Official ANA Grading Standards in large part on the Sheldon scale; the scale was created by William Herbert Sheldon. In 1949, the original scale was first presented in "Dr. William H. Sheldon's Early American Cents" titled "A Quantitative Scale for condition" as a way to grade Large cents; the scale is known today as the Sheldon scale. By 1953 the original Sheldon scale had become outdated, it was not until the 1970s, that the ANA chose to adapt the scale for use on all US coins. The scale used today is a modification of the original Sheldon scale, with added adjustments, additions and modifications to it. Note: Some early American coin varieties are always found to be weakly struck in places; this does not bring the grade of these coins down as in some cases no flawless coin exists for the variety. Early coins in general have planchet quality issues which depending on severity and market conditions can bring the grade down for other coins.
Mint State refers to a coin minted for regular distribution, never put into circulation, i.e. it was never used for daily commerce. Since individuals never used these coins to purchase goods or services, the coins were not handed from one person to another. Uncirculated coins should not show signs of wear. In modern-day United States numismatics, coin dealers, third-party grading services grade mint state coins using a number from 60 to 70 inclusive, with 70 representing a perfect coin with no visible blemishes. Coins in the lower grade range, although unworn, may suffer from weak striking, bag marks and other defects that make them less attractive to the collector; some early coins appear quite worn-looking in mint state, due to striking problems or problems with the coin's planchet or metal quality—in other words, they look worn, but they are uncirculated coins. There are a few United States coins for which no mint state specimens exist, e.g. the 1792 silver disme, the 1802 Draped Bust silver half dime.
Coin dealers and individual coin collectors use adjectives—with or without an accompanying Sheldon numerical code—to describe an uncirculated coin's grade. The term Brilliant Uncirculated is the most common—and the most ambiguous—of such adjectives. While Brilliant Uncirculated ought to refer to an uncirculated coin that retains its original mint luster, some equate BU with Uncirculated, i.e. they might refer to an MS-60 coin with little or no effulgence as Brilliant Uncirculated. Along these lines, some numismatists argue that an unscrupulous subset of coin dealers mislead customers by using adjectival grades without defining their terms. At the same time, there appears to be at least some consensus in the numismatic community for the following definitions. However, bear in mind that if a coin dealer advertises a coin as "Gem Uncirculated", it does not mean that a third-party coin grading company would assign an MS-65 or MS-66 grade to the coin. Like circulated grades, proof coins are graded on the Sheldon scale from 1 to 70.
Proof coins graded 60 to 70 are mirrored to those of Uncirculated grades with the difference that the coin was not made for circulation. Proof coins with the grade of Pr63 are sometimes called "Choice Proofs". Proof coins that are below the grade of 60 and show signs of circulation or mishandling have been classified as Impaired Proofs, these are not included alongside circulated coins as they were never issued or intended for circulation in the first place; the following table shows coins. Coin dealers will grade these coins at or below the ones shown for that respective type, the grades here depend on how bad the issue or issues are. Coins that are uncirculated as mentioned above can not go below an MS-60 grade
Legal tender is a medium of payment recognized by a legal system to be valid for meeting a financial obligation. Paper currency and coins are common forms of legal tender in many countries. Legal tender is variously defined in different jurisdictions. Formally, it is anything. Thus, personal cheques, credit cards, similar non-cash methods of payment are not legal tender; the law does not relieve the debt obligation. Coins and banknotes are defined as legal tender; some jurisdictions may restrict payment made other than by legal tender. For example, such a law might outlaw the use of foreign coins and bank notes or require a license to perform financial transactions in a foreign currency. Designation of a particular form of money as legal tender means "that the designated money is valid payment for all debts unless there is a specific agreement to the contrary". In some jurisdictions legal tender can be refused as payment if no debt exists prior to the time of payment. For example, vending machines and transport staff do not have to accept the largest denomination of banknote.
Shopkeepers may reject large banknotes: this is covered by the legal concept known as invitation to treat. The right, in many jurisdictions, of a trader to refuse to do business with any person, means a purchaser may not insist on making a purchase and so declaring a legal tender in law, as anything other than an offered payment for debts incurred would not be effective. Under U. S. federal law, cash in U. S. dollars is a legal offer of payment for antecedent debts when tendered to a creditor. By contrast, federal statutes do not require that someone, not a pre-existing creditor must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses may formulate their own policies on whether to accept cash unless state law requires otherwise; the term "legal tender" is from French tendre, meaning to offer. The Latin root is tendere, the sense of tender as an offer is related to the etymology of the English word "extend". Demonetization is the act of stripping a currency unit of its status as legal tender.
It occurs whenever there is a change of national currency: The current form or forms of money is pulled from circulation and retired to be replaced with new notes or coins. Sometimes, a country replaces the old currency with new currency; the opposite of demonetization is remonetization, in which a form of payment is restored as legal tender. Coins and banknotes may cease to be legal tender if new notes of the same currency replace them or if a new currency is introduced replacing the former one. Examples of this are: The United Kingdom, adopting decimal currency in place of pounds and pence in 1971, Banknotes remained unchanged. In 1968 and 1969 decimal coins which had precise equivalent values in the old currency were introduced, while decimal coins with no precise equivalent were introduced on 15 February 1971; the smallest and largest non-decimal circulating coins, the half penny and half crown, were withdrawn in 1969, the other non-decimal coins with no precise equivalent in the new currency were withdrawn in 1971.
Non-decimal coins with precise decimal equivalents remained legal tender either until the coins no longer circulated, or the equivalent decimal coins were reduced in size in the early 1990s. The 6d coin was permitted to remain in large circulation throughout the United Kingdom due to the London Underground committee's large investment in coin-operated ticketing machines that used it. Old coins returned to the Royal Mint through the UK banking system will be redeemed by exchanging them for legal tender currency with no time limits; the successor states of the Soviet Union replacing the Soviet ruble in the 1990s. Currencies used in the Eurozone before being replaced by the euro are not legal tender, but all banknotes are redeemable for euros for a minimum of 10 years. India demonetised its 500 and 1000 rupee notes on 8 November 2016; this action affected 86 percent of all cash in circulation. The demonetisation action was intended to curb black money, the hoarding of unaccounted cash, sponsorship of terrorism, but led to long queues from bank runs, leaving more than 30 people dead.
The old notes are now being replaced by new 2000 rupee notes. The Philippines has ceased 2 peso and 50 centavo coins of Flora and Fauna Series in 2000, due to overminting of the coins of BSP Series that has not included the 2 peso and 50 centavo coins of that series. Individual coins or banknotes can be demonetised and cease to be legal tender, but the Bank of England does redeem all Bank of England banknotes by exchanging them for legal tender currency at its counters in London regardless of how old they are. Banknotes issued by retail banks in the UK are not legal tender, but one of the criteria for legal protection under the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act is that banknotes must be payable on demand, therefore withdrawn notes remain a liability of the issuing bank without any time limits. In the case of the euro, coins an
A coin wrapper, sometimes known as a bank roll or roll, is a paper or plastic container for a number of coins. In the United States, empty rolls are available free at most banks in every denomination; the rolls come flat and one side will have to be folded to allow for coins to be placed inside. When the roll is full, the top side will need to be folded; the full rolls are brought back to the banks in exchange for currency or to be deposited. The Canadian mint uses check weighers to verify the number of coins per roll. In the Eurozone, empty plastic rolls are used at banks in every denomination, with five-coin staggered rows, their main advantages are: Reliability Their five-coin staggered rows and transparency make quick verification of contents possible. Certainty They provide a high degree of certainty. Efficiency The high certainty means less time spent processing coins, while the solidity and two-way closure system increase the number of times the coin roll can be used reducing its overall cost.
In Japan, machine-wrapped, plastic coin rolls are circulated exclusively, as handmade coin rolls are rare. Each roll holds 50 coins. Customers can change bills into coin rolls using automatic money changers at Japanese banks. In the United Kingdom, coin rolls are not used. Instead, small plastic bags are provided free of charge at banks which are filled by the customer with the appropriate number of the same value coin as printed on the bag; when depositing or changing, the bags are weighed at the bank to check they contain the right number. Coin collectors will ask for full rolls from the bank to search the contents in hopes of finding an interesting piece; some collectors save coins of bullion value, such as copper cents and silver half-dollars. This practice is called coin roll hunting, it is known as cherry picking. Full rolls are requested by vendors to make change. Bank rolls are vulnerable to a variety of scams, such as rolling slugs of no value or coins of a lesser value. See coin rolling scams.
Currency: Afghan afghani Currency: Albanian lek Currency: Australian dollar Australian coins used to have different ink colors, but now they all have black ink. Currency: Bahamian dollar The Bahamas has two different kinds of rolls with the same number of coins. One kind is distinguished by color, while the other is adorned with a light blue background with the Flag of the Bahamas; the rolls here are the ones. Currency: Canadian dollar Canadian coin rolls are similar to American coin rolls, with the exception being that rolls for the half dollar do not exist while rolls for the toonie do. Currency: Chinese yuan Currency: Danish krone Currency: Euro Three of the rolls used in Spain are different from the ones used in the rest of the eurozone; until 2009, two of the rolls used in Italy were different from the ones used in the rest of the eurozone. Currency: German Mark Currency: Finnish markka Currency: Honduran lempira Currency: Indonesian rupiah Currency: Israeli new shekel Currency: Japanese yen Japanese coin rolls are made of plastic and are not color-differentiated.
Each roll holds 50 coins. Currency: Moldovan leu Currency: Norwegian krone Currency: Romanian leu Currency: Saudi riyal Currency: Serbian dinar Currency: Singaporean dollar Currency: South Korean won Currency: Swedish krona Currency: Swiss franc Currency: New Taiwan dollar Currency: Thai baht Currency: Ukrainian hryvnia Currency: United Arab Emirates dirham Currency: United States dollar Each denomination has a different amount found in a roll and are color-coded by denomination. See below: Automatic coin wrapper Coin roll hunting, the practice of searching coin rolls for unusual, rare or valuable coins Coin rolling scams Currency packaging Euro starter kits
Money is any item or verifiable record, accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts, such as taxes, in a particular country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value and sometimes, a standard of deferred payment. Any item or verifiable record that fulfils these functions can be considered as money. Money is an emergent market phenomenon establishing a commodity money, but nearly all contemporary money systems are based on fiat money. Fiat money, like any note of debt, is without use value as a physical commodity, it derives its value by being declared by a government to be legal tender. Counterfeit money can cause good money to lose its value; the money supply of a country consists of currency and, depending on the particular definition used, one or more types of bank money. Bank money, which consists only of records, forms by far the largest part of broad money in developed countries.
The word "money" is believed to originate from a temple of Juno, on Capitoline, one of Rome's seven hills. In the ancient world Juno was associated with money; the temple of Juno Moneta at Rome was the place. The name "Juno" may derive from the Etruscan goddess Uni and "Moneta" either from the Latin word "monere" or the Greek word "moneres". In the Western world, a prevalent term for coin-money has been specie, stemming from Latin in specie, meaning'in kind'; the use of barter-like methods may date back to at least 100,000 years ago, though there is no evidence of a society or economy that relied on barter. Instead, non-monetary societies operated along the principles of gift economy and debt; when barter did in fact occur, it was between either complete strangers or potential enemies. Many cultures around the world developed the use of commodity money; the Mesopotamian shekel was a unit of weight, relied on the mass of something like 160 grains of barley. The first usage of the term came from Mesopotamia circa 3000 BC.
Societies in the Americas, Asia and Australia used shell money – the shells of the cowry. According to Herodotus, the Lydians were the first people to introduce the use of gold and silver coins, it is thought by modern scholars that these first stamped coins were minted around 650–600 BC. The system of commodity money evolved into a system of representative money; this occurred because gold and silver merchants or banks would issue receipts to their depositors – redeemable for the commodity money deposited. These receipts became accepted as a means of payment and were used as money. Paper money or banknotes were first used in China during the Song dynasty; these banknotes, known as "jiaozi", evolved from promissory notes, used since the 7th century. However, they did not displace commodity money, were used alongside coins. In the 13th century, paper money became known in Europe through the accounts of travelers, such as Marco Polo and William of Rubruck. Marco Polo's account of paper money during the Yuan dynasty is the subject of a chapter of his book, The Travels of Marco Polo, titled "How the Great Kaan Causeth the Bark of Trees, Made Into Something Like Paper, to Pass for Money All Over his Country."
Banknotes were first issued in Europe by Stockholms Banco in 1661, were again used alongside coins. The gold standard, a monetary system where the medium of exchange are paper notes that are convertible into pre-set, fixed quantities of gold, replaced the use of gold coins as currency in the 17th–19th centuries in Europe; these gold standard notes were made legal tender, redemption into gold coins was discouraged. By the beginning of the 20th century all countries had adopted the gold standard, backing their legal tender notes with fixed amounts of gold. After World War II and the Bretton Woods Conference, most countries adopted fiat currencies that were fixed to the U. S. dollar. The U. S. dollar was in turn fixed to gold. In 1971 the U. S. government suspended the convertibility of the U. S. dollar to gold. After this many countries de-pegged their currencies from the U. S. dollar, most of the world's currencies became unbacked by anything except the governments' fiat of legal tender and the ability to convert the money into goods via payment.
According to proponents of modern money theory, fiat money is backed by taxes. By imposing taxes, states create demand for the currency. In Money and the Mechanism of Exchange, William Stanley Jevons famously analyzed money in terms of four functions: a medium of exchange, a common measure of value, a standard of value, a store of value. By 1919, Jevons's four functions of money were summarized in the couplet: Money's a matter of functions four, A Medium, a Measure, a Standard, a Store; this couplet would become popular in macroeconomics textbooks. Most modern textbooks now list only three functions, that of medium of exchange, unit of account, store of value, not considering a standard of deferred payment as a distinguished function, but rather subsuming it in the others. There have been many historical disputes regarding the combination of money's functions, some arguing that they need more separation and that a s
Proof coinage refers to special early samples of a coin issue made for checking the dies and for archival purposes, but nowadays struck in greater numbers specially for coin collectors. Nearly all countries have issued proof coinage. Preparation of a proof striking involved polishing of the dies, they can be distinguished from normal circulation coins by their sharper rims and design, as well as much smoother "fields" – the blank areas not part of the coin's design. The dies for making modern proof coins are treated with chemicals to make certain parts of the design take on a frosted appearance, with the polished fields taking on a mirror finish. Several other methods have been used in the past to achieve this effect, including sand blasting the dies, matte proofs. Proof coins of the early 19th century appear to be scratched, but it was part of the production process; the term "proof" refers to the process by which the coins are made and not to the condition of the coin. Certification agencies can assign numerical ratings for proof coins.
A PR70 coin is the highest grade possible for a proof coin and indicates a perfect example, with PR69 and lower grades reflecting some deficiency in the strike, details, or other aspect of the coin. Most proof coins are double struck under higher pressure; this does not result in doubling, observable, but does result in the devices being struck fully. After being struck, they are separately and individually handled, in contrast to normal coins which are thrown into bins; the U. S. had stopped striking proof coins in 1916, although a few specimens exist. From 1936 to 1942, proof coins could be ordered individually from the U. S. Mint. Beginning in 1950, customers could order proof coins only as complete sets. From 1950 to 1955, proof sets were packaged in a box and each of the five coins was sealed in a cellophane bag. 1955 saw both the original "box" packaging and introduced the flat-pack, where the coins were sealed in cellophane and presented in an envelope. The flat-pack packaging continued through 1964, after which the coins were sealed in various styles of hard plasticized cases.
Sets struck from 1936 to 1942 and from 1950 to 1972 include the cent, dime and half dollar. From 1973 through 1981 the dollar was included, from 2000 on; the 1999–2008 proof sets contain five different Statehood quarters. The 2004–2005 series contain the two Lewis and Clark nickels; the 2007-2016 proof sets include Presidential dollars. The 2010-2021 proof sets contain America the Beautiful quarters, depicting different National Parks and Monuments. Proof sets issued in 2009 contain 18 coins – the most included – as that year featured four different reverses for the Lincoln Cent, six quarters issued under the District of Columbia and United States Territories quarters program, four Presidential and one Native American dollar struck that year, the five cent and half dollar coins. Proof sets containing only 2009 cents, Statehood quarters, America the Beautiful quarters, Presidential dollars are available; the U. S. Mint has released special proof sets, such as in 1976, when a proof set of three 40% silver-clad coins: the quarter, half-dollar and dollar coins depicting special reverses to commemorate the U.
S. Bicentennial was issued. From 1971 to 1974, proof silver-clad Eisenhower dollars were issued in a plastic case contained in a brown wood-grain finish slipcase box, are referred to as "Brown Ikes". Proof Susan B. Anthony dollars were struck in 1999. Although these proof dollars were sold separately and not included in the proof sets for that year, some third parties used the cases from other years to create 1999 proof sets that include the dollar, prompting the U. S. Mint to advise the public that these sets were not government-issued sets. A proof "Coin & Chronicles" set was issued for 2009, which included one each of the 4 different Lincoln Cent designs and a commemorative Lincoln Silver Dollar, presented in special packaging. Other sets, called "Prestige Proof" sets contain selected commemorative coins; these sets were sold from 1983 to 1997 at an additional premium. As Legacy Proof sets, the practice was resumed from 2005 to 2008. There are errors which escape the Mint's inspection process, resulting in some rare and expensive proof sets.
This has happened at least seven times: 1968-S, 1970-S and 1975-S and in the 1983-S Prestige set, each with a dime that has no mint mark. Not as rare are proof sets issued with coin varieties that are less common than those found in other sets issued in the same year; these include the 1960 and 1970-S sets, both of which are found in either a "small date" or "large date" variety, which refers to the size and position of the date on the Lincoln cent. The 1979-S and 1981-S sets each come in either a "Type I" or a "Type II" version, where on all coins the "S" mint mark is either "filled" or "clear". 1964 has a design variation where the President's portrait on the Kennedy half-dollar has "accented hair". The design was modified early in the production to give the hair a smoother appearance; this resulted in the "accented hair" variety being somewhat rarer
50 State Quarters
The 50 State Quarters Program was the release of a series of circulating commemorative coins by the United States Mint. From 1999 through 2008, it featured unique designs for each of the 50 U. S. states on the reverse of the quarter. The 50 State Quarters Program was started to support a new generation of coin collectors, it became the most successful numismatic program in history, with half of the U. S. population collecting the coins, either in a casual manner or as a serious pursuit. The U. S. federal government so far has made additional profits of $3.0 billion from collectors taking the coins out of circulation. In 2009, the U. S. Mint began issuing quarters under the 2009 District of Columbia and U. S. Territories Program; the Territories Quarter Program was authorized by the passage of a newer legislative act, H. R. 2764. This program features the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands; the program's origins lie with the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee, appointed by Secretary of Treasury Lloyd Bentsen in December 1993 and chaired by Mint Director Philip N. Diehl.
From the first days of the CCCAC, one of its members, David Ganz, urged the committee to endorse the 50 States Quarters program, in 1995, the CCCAC did so. The committee sought the support of Representative Michael Castle, chairman of the House Banking subcommittee with jurisdiction over the nation's coinage. Castle's initial caution was resolved when Diehl suggested the coins be issued in the order the states entered the Union or ratified the Constitution. Delaware, Castle's home state, was the first state to ratify the Constitution. Castle subsequently filed legislation to authorize the program. Despite the support of the director of the mint and the treasury secretary-appointed CCCAC, the Treasury Department opposed the 50 States Quarters program, as commemorative coinage had come to be identified with abuses and excesses; the mint's economic models estimated the program would earn the government between $2.6 billion and $5.1 billion in additional seignorage and $110 million in additional numismatic profits.
Diehl and Castle used these profit projections to urge the Treasury's support, but Treasury officials found the projections to lack credibility. Diehl worked with Castle behind the scenes to move legislation forward despite the Treasury's opposition to the program. However, the Treasury suggested to Castle that the department should conduct a study to determine the feasibility of the program. With Diehl's advice, Castle accepted the Treasury's offer, the agreement was codified in the United States Commemorative Coin Act of 1996; the act authorized the secretary to proceed with the 50 States Quarters program without further congressional action if the results of the feasibility study were favorable. The Treasury Department engaged the consulting firm Coopers and Lybrand to conduct the study in 1997, which confirmed the Mint's demand and numismatic profit projections for the program. Among other conclusions, the study found that 98 million Americans were to save one or more full sets of the quarters.
The Treasury Department continued to oppose the program and declined to proceed with it without a congressional mandate to do so. In 1997, Congress issued that mandate in the form of S. 1228, the "United States Commemorative Coin Program Act", signed into law by President Bill Clinton on December 1, 1997. The 50 state quarters were released by five each year, they were released in the same order that the states ratified the Constitution and/or were admitted to the Union. Each quarter's reverse commemorated one of the 50 states with a design emblematic of its unique history and symbols. Certain design elements, such as state flags, images of living persons, head-and-shoulder images of deceased persons were prohibited; the authorizing legislation and Mint procedures gave states a substantial role and considerable discretion in determining the design that would represent their state. The majority of states followed a process by which the governor solicited the state's citizens to submit design concepts and appointed an advisory group to oversee the process.
Governors submitted three to five finalist design concepts to the secretary of treasury for approval. Approved designs were returned to the states for selection of a final design. States employed one of two approaches in making this selection. In 33 states, the governor selected the final recommended design based on the recommendations of advisory groups and citizens. In the other 17 states, citizens selected the final design through online, mail or other public votes. US Mint engravers applied all final design concepts approved by the secretary of treasury; the media and public attention surrounding this process and the release of each state's quarter was intense and produced significant publicity for the program. The State Quarters Program was the most popular commemorative coin program in United States history. By the end of 2008, all of the original 50 states quarters had been released; the official total, according to the US Mint, was 34,797,600,000 coins. The average mint