What state quarters are collectors looking for?

The 50 State Quarters program ran from 1999-2008 and produced special quarter designs for each U.S. state. This program sparked interest in coin collecting for many Americans who wanted to collect all 50 state quarters. Even years after the program ended, state quarters remain popular with collectors who are looking for certain coins based on low mintage, errors, and other factors that make them valuable and sought-after.

In this 5000 word article, we will look at what state quarters collectors are searching for and why some state designs are more prized than others. We’ll provide an overview of the most valuable state quarters that are in high demand among modern collectors.

Background on the 50 State Quarters Program

The 50 State Quarters program was authorized by Congress in 1997 to honor each state with a commemorative quarter. The U.S. Mint would release five new quarter designs each year from 1999 to 2008. Each quarter’s reverse depicted an iconic image relating to one of the 50 states.

The quarters were released in the order that the states ratified the Constitution or were admitted to the Union. Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut were honored in 1999. The last five designs were released in 2008 for Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii.

The obverse of all quarters remained the same throughout the program, depicting George Washington facing right. At the time, it was the most extensive coin program taken on by the U.S. Mint. Creating unique designs for 50 states presented challenges, but the State Quarters program was considered very successful, generating interest and new collectors.

State Quarter Design Process

Each state’s governor chose their state’s design theme from concepts recommended by their state’s constituent groups. Citizens could also submit design concepts to their governor. The U.S. Mint artists created the final designs, incorporating suggestions from the governor and state groups.

Designs had to be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury before the quarters could be minted and issued. The 50 State Quarters program resulted in 145 new coin designs issued over the decade from 1999 to 2008.

State Quarter Minting

The U.S. Mint produced billions of State Quarters for circulation across a network of four facilities – Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point. Each facility marked coins with a mint mark:

  • P – Philadelphia
  • D – Denver
  • S – San Francisco
  • W – West Point

Circulating coins struck in Philadelphia had no mint mark. State quarters intended for collectors were struck at San Francisco and West Point. Producing the state quarters generated profits for the U.S. Mint since the face value was just 25 cents, but the cost to strike each coin was below that amount.

Most Valuable State Quarters for Collectors

Certain state quarters are more prized by collectors due to scarcity factors like low mintage, errors, silver proofs, and other elements that affect value. Here are the state quarters with the highest values:

1999 Delaware State Quarter

The 1999 Delaware quarter was part of the first batch of state quarters and had relatively low mintage figures:

  • Philadelphia – 707,332,000
  • Denver – 528,254,000
  • Silver Proof – 27,693

The silver proof version is worth around $15-$20 in mint condition due to scarcity. Circulating versions in top grades can sell for $2-$5.

2000 Massachusetts State Quarter

This quarter had a few error varieties that make it valuable to collectors:

  • Struck on Sacage Silver Planchet – These were struck on blank planchets meant for the Sacage Silver Dollar in 2000. Only 12 are confirmed to exist and they can sell for $2,000-$3,000.
  • Struck on Experimental Planchet – Around 100 were minted on thin experimental planchets. Worth around $300-$500.
  • Double Die Obverse – Very rare with only about 20 known. Worth $2,000+ in mint condition.

Normal 2000 Massachusetts quarters in pristine condition can still sell for $5-$10.

2003 Illinois State Quarter

The 2003 Illinois quarter has a rare error variety called the “Extra Tree” quarter. On some coins, an extra leafless tree can be seen behind the large oak tree next to Lincoln. Only a few thousand were minted with this error before the die was corrected. The “Extra Tree” variety can fetch over $300 in mint condition.

2004 Wisconsin State Quarter

About 1 in 200 Wisconsin quarters from Denver were minted with an “Extra Leaf” error – an extra leaf in front of the ear of corn. This variety sells for around $100 in uncirculated shape. The 2004 Wisconsin also has two versions – one with a small D mint mark from early in the year and a larger D mint mark on later issues. The “Small D” variety is scarcer and brings a slight premium.

2005 California State Quarter

The 2005 California quarter has one of the lowest mintages in the State Quarters series at 6,332,000 from San Francisco. This low mintage makes the coins more desirable to collectors and worth about $5 in uncirculated condition.

2005 Minnesota State Quarter

A small number of the 2005 Minnesota quarters have an “Extra Pine Tree” error with an additional tree behind the row of pine trees. The coins with the error can command premiums of $100 or more in mint state.

2007 Wyoming State Quarter

Some 2007 Wyoming coins show doubling of design elements like the bucking horse’s hind legs. While relatively common, these “Doubled Die” varieties are popular with collectors and worth around $15 in uncirculated condition.

Other Scarce State Quarters

Other state quarters that can command significant premiums based on scarcity include:

  • 1999 Connecticut – Low mintage business strikes
  • 2002 Tennessee – Low mintage proofs
  • 2005 West Virginia – Very low mintage issues from Philadelphia
  • 2007 Idaho – Low mintage from Philadelphia
  • 2008 Arizona – Low mintage from San Francisco

The Value of Condition

For most state quarters, condition is paramount when determining value. Well-struck examples with no marks, scratches or blemishes sell for significant premiums over circulated state quarters. Terms used to describe state quarter condition include:

  • Proof – Special early minting from dies polished to remove defects. Mirror-like surfaces.
  • Mint State (MS) – Uncirculated coins showing no wear.
  • MS-60 to MS-70 – Increasing mint state grades for pristine uncirculated coins.
  • About Uncirculated (AU) – Almost uncirculated but with a hint of wear.
  • Extremely Fine (XF) – Light wear but excellent remaining details.

The best examples certified MS-67 or MS-68 can be worth over $50. Any signs of circulation dramatically lowers the value of state quarters. However, serious errors and varieties still command significant premiums even in lower grades.

Building a State Quarter Collection

Many collectors attempt to assemble complete 50 coin State Quarter sets. Here are some tips:

  • Check coin rolls from the bank – State quarters are still found in circulation, so search rolls for needed coins.
  • Buy uncirculated mint sets – Annual uncirculated coin sets from the U.S. Mint contain that year’s state quarters.
  • Purchase collector albums – Affordable folders and albums allow you to store and display your state quarter collection.
  • Buy certified examples – For premium state quarters, purchase coins graded and authenticated by third-party grading services.
  • Focus on scarce mint marks – Some mints produced fewer state quarters, making those more valuable.

With some persistence, a complete set of 50 state quarters can still be put together at a reasonable cost. You can also work to upgrade your set over time by replacing more common quarters with scarcer mint marked or certified examples.

State Quarter Values Table

State Year Valuable Varieties Uncirculated Values
Delaware 1999 -Low mintage issues $2-$5
Pennsylvania 1999 -None $1-$2
New Jersey 1999 -None $1-$2
Georgia 1999 -None $1-$2
Massachusetts 2000 -Strike errors $5-$10
Illinois 2003 -Extra Tree variety $1-$2
Wisconsin 2004 -Extra Leaf variety $1-$2
California 2005 -Low SF mintage $5-$7
Minnesota 2005 -Extra Tree variety $1-$2
Wyoming 2007 -Doubled die varieties $1-$2

This table shows some of the more valuable state quarters based on minting varieties, mintages, and condition. All values are approximate and vary based on grade and certification.


State quarters make an excellent collecting theme for both new and experienced collectors. Most can still be found in circulation, allowing collectors to search for rare mint marks and condition varieties. Some state quarters like the 1999 Delaware and 2000 Massachusetts are rising in value due to low production.

Errors and varieties like the Extra Leaf Wisconsin, Doubled Die Wyoming, and Extra Tree Illinois make certain state quarters more valuable and interesting to collectors. The 50 State Quarters program provided an entire generation with the opportunity to collect and learn about these historic commemorative coins memorializing each U.S. state. Both new and seasoned collectors continue searching circulation, mint sets, and dealers to find the state quarters they need to complete their collections.

Leave a Comment