January 31, 2005: The California quarter is released as part of the United States Mint's 50 State Quarter Program.
Hailed as the U.S. Mint's most successful coin initiative, the State Quarter Program spanned 10 years and honored each of the nation's states with a quarter. Issued in the order of statehood, the quarters were minted and released into circulation at a pace of five per year – beginning with the Delaware quarter in 1999 and ending with the Hawaii quarter in 2008. The obverse design was static, featuring the portrait of George Washington, while the reverse depicted a design emblematic of the state being honored.
The California state quarter is the 31st coin issued in the series, as the state was the 31st to be admitted to the Union on September 9, 1850. The public was introduced to the coin during a ceremony at the California State Museum in Sacramento on January 31, 2005. Governor Arnold Scharzenegger, First Lady Maria Shriver, and U.S. Mint personnel officially launched the quarter into circulation.
The quarter's reverse design depicts conservationist John Muir looking out over Yosemite Valley's monolith granite headwall while a California condor flies by. The quarter was produced at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. Denver-minted coins bear a "D" mintmark, while Philadelphia coins are mintmark-free. The quarter's total mintage is 520,400,000.
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