The penultimate coin issued in the program’s penultimate year and the 44th overall, the Wyoming 50 State quarter was released in September 2007. Arguably, the coin is one of the most representative of its state, with its simple, albeit polarizing, design of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco. But as far as collectors are concerned, this representation came at a cost, with the coin susceptible to an excessive amount of wear relative to other issues from the series.
There are, however, a number of minor varieties.
Design and Release
Wyoming became a state on July 10, 1890. Elements of its state quarter’s design date to the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Wyoming’s nickname, “The Equality State”, refers to its having been the first territory or state to grant women the right to vote and hold public office in 1869. This nickname is prominently inscribed on the reverse.
The bucking horse and rider insignia can be traced back to World War I, when members of the Wyoming National Guard applied the logo to their equipment when stationed out of state or overseas. The University of Wyoming adopted the logo in 1921. It is thought to depict a horse named Steamboat being ridden by a cowboy named Guy Holt. The scene is the subject of a photo taken in 1903 that was used as the basis for the University of Wyoming’s logo. The State of Wyoming adopted the design for its license plates in 1936.
In 2004, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal (D) appointed 13 historians and other experts to the Wyoming Coinage Advisory Committee, which solicited more than 3,200 submissions from the public. The committee first met in January 2005 and culled the thousands of submissions down to five design narratives submitted to the United States Mint.
Four of the five proposed designs for Wyoming’s state quarter featured the horse and rider motif. The fifth depicted Old Faithful, the geyser in Yellowstone National Park, which would eventually feature alongside a bison on Wyoming’s America the Beautiful quarter in 2010. An outline of the state and depictions of the Grand Tetons accompanied the rider on the other designs.
Designated WY-1 to WY-5, both the federal Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the federal Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) reviewed the proposals in early 2006, recommending different designs.
The CFA recommended WY-1, which depicted the horse and rider motif in silhouette, at its January 19, 2006 meeting. The CFA’s meeting minutes described the horse and rider motif as “powerful” and as appropriate an image as Old Faithful. The CFA’s letter did offer mild criticism: “[T]he state motto, ‘The Equality State,’ does not seem to have any relationship with the cowboy image and could be eliminated.”
At its January 24, 2006 meeting, the CCAC recommended the reverse design designated WY-4, explaining that “this theme –though conventional – was seen as authentic and successful.” The CCAC did express interest in the design recommended by the CFA with the cowboy and rider in silhouette, writing: “Members agreed that this could be an innovative quarter if such a difference in texture could be created.”
Ultimately, the design favored by the CCAC was selected. U.S. Mint Artistic Infusion Program artist Donna Weaver created the design and Norman E. Nemeth sculpted it.
The coins were released on September 4, 2007, with a launch ceremony at the Cheyenne Civic Center featuring U.S. Mint Director Edmund C. Moy and Freudenthal taking place on September 14. Native Americans attended the event, as did the University of Wyoming’s women’s basketball team, who helped hand the quarters out to schoolchildren in attendance. In his remarks at the event, Moy mentioned that Wyoming’s first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, was also the first woman to serve as the Mint’s director. Ross’s grandson attended a striking ceremony at the Denver Mint in August 2007.
Examples of the quarters were sold at the September 14 event with commemorative cards, produced by Wyoming-based company UniCover Corp., for $2. The cards’ designs reflected some of the other themes considered for the quarters, including the Grand Tetons and Devil’s Tower.
Many applauded the design when it was announced and released.
Jack Rosenthal, the chairman of the committee that selected the design, is quoted in a Billings Gazette article saying “contrary to what some people believe, there are times when the people of Wyoming agree with the folks back in Washington.” The same Billings Gazette article reported that the bucking horse had been suggested by “the Mint’s own guidelines for the state quarter series,” and that “nearly half of those who submitted ideas for the state quarter said they liked the bucking horse.”
Freudenthal apparently was pleased with the design, saying that it “Represented… both our proud Western heritage and our historical role in establishing equal voting rights for women… We will be very pleased to see this coin in circulation around the country.” He also said that he was “…amazed how many people collect them, and in fact, I’ve gotten to the point that I want to make sure that I collect them so that (First Lady Nancy Freudenthal) and I will have them available for our kids and hopefully at some point…”
In a September 2007 feature article published in The Numismatist, RyAnne Scott detailed the horse and rider image’s history, describing it as “a hallmark of the Cowboy State.”
The day after the quarter’s launch, Coin World received a report of the first circulation find from a collector in Virginia.
A 93-year-old collector in Powell, Wyoming, wanted to live long enough to see the quarter released, according to a piece by the Associated Press published in the Billings Gazette.
Many numismatists don’t remember Wyoming’s state quarter quite as fondly.
An article published in the Jackson Hole Star-Tribune published a couple of weeks after the quarters were released directly contrasted Wyoming’s entry with the rest of the series, pointing out that its silhouetted, featureless design was a first among 50 State quarters. The piece quotes Dwight Brockman, who owned The Coin Shop in Cheyenne until his murder in 2015: “I think that was the biggest disappointment with the real numismatists, is there’s no detail in this thing… But the average person is probably pretty excited about it.”
Brockman shared his thoughts with the Billings Gazette around the same time: “The cowboy on this coin, it looks like a cookie. There’s not any detail on it.”
Since 2007, comments on discussion threads on a number of numismatic forums have trended negatively. Some collectors defend the design’s simplicity and historicity, while many criticize its flatness and a perceived lack of creativity. Its simplicity drew comparisons to the designs of the state quarters honoring Texas, Michigan, Idaho, and a few others.
A 2013 article published in the E-Sylum compared a Spanish coin commemorating Miguel de Cervantes to Wyoming’s state quarter, describing the latter’s design as a “horrible flat cowboy.”
In August 2016, Coin World included the 2007 Wyoming quarter in a feature article on “America’s Ugly Duckling Coins” describing the issue as “particularly ugly.” The piece compared its the simplicity of the design unfavorably with Michigan’s and quoted a number of prominent collectors, whose sentiments could be summarized by Nebraska collector Mitch Ernst, who said “I find the stark, plain, severe simplicity ugly and in my opinion, the design does not represent the grandeur of the state nor the strength of its people.”
The 2007-P Wyoming State Quarter in the Market
243,600,000 Wyoming state quarters were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 2007, a mintage typical for the latter part of the series. 2007-P Wyoming quarters appear in circulation regularly, meaning a collector can fill a hole in a state quarter album for the coin’s face value. The market for better-preserved examples doesn’t seem too strong, with Uncirculated examples offered on eBay for around $1, while purported varieties and errors are sometimes priced higher.
Between 2005 and 2010, the Mint applied a Satin Finish to coins included in Mint Sets, a distinction noted by PCGS and NGC. The record prices for circulation strike and Satin Finish 2007-P quarters were realized within days of each other. On January 4, 2017, a 2007-P Wyoming 50 State quarter certified MS-68 by PCGS sold in a Heritage auction for $2,115, the record price for the issue. The record price for a coin with the Satin Finish, $79, was realized on December 27, 2016.
At the time of writing, PCGS reports 272 grading events for 2007-P Wyoming state quarters and 746 with the Satin Finish and NGC reports 398, 299 of which have the Mint Set’s satin finish.
The Fifth Edition of the Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins, published in 2012, lists three major doubled die reverse varieties, FS-25-2007P-WY801 through 803, all three of which display doubling on the saddle horn and 802 has the Satin Finish. PCGS has certified examples of all three. No varieties are recorded for 2007-D.
Variety Vista lists 57 doubled die reverse varieties of the 2007-P Wyoming state quarter. One DDR variety is listed for 2007-D.
Non-numismatic news sources have taken some interest in varieties of the 2007-P Wyoming 50 State quarters. In September 2008, the Casper Star-Tribune reported on a variety with doubling on the saddle horn. The article quoted a number of coin dealers in Wyoming and Montana speculating on the potential value of varieties who didn’t think that demand for the variety would materialize. In 2020, an article published on the website of King 101.9 FM, a Cheyenne-area radio station, described a “pooping horse” quarter with a die break between Steamboat’s tail and backside resembling excrement.
Numerous minor varieties may not interest those plucking the quarters from circulation, but a dedicated variety specialist could challenge themselves with the three-variety Cherrypicker’s Guide set or attempt something more ambitious.
However uninspiring some numismatists found the simple though storied design, the 2007-P Wyoming state quarter is nonetheless a notable issue.
The obverse of the 2007-P Wyoming quarter features a modified portrait of George Washington, a design by John Flanagan based on a 1786 plaster bust by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. Sculptor-engraver William Cousins designed the newer rendition of Washington, which was also used as the obverse design for the America the Beautiful Quarter series.
The 1999 redesign was necessary, in part, to accommodate new inscriptions on the obverse that previously were featured on the reverse of the quarter; these obverse inscriptions include UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in a semi-circular arrangement over Washington’s head, IN GOD WE TRUST to his right, LIBERTY to his left, below his chin, and QUARTER DOLLAR along the bottom side of the rim, under the first president’s bust. The words QUARTER DOLLAR and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA were previously located on the reverse of Washington quarters made from 1932 through 1998, but they were relocated to the obverse to allow a wider reverse canvas area for the changing 50 State Quarters designs. The mintmark is seen to the right of Washington’s ponytail.
The central motif of the Wyoming state quarter reverse is the Bucking Horse and Rider logo, which is actually trademarked by the State of Wyoming. The state’s name WYOMING is inscribed clockwise at the center of the top of the side, and the year that Wyoming joined the Union–1890–is located immediately beneath that. The motto THE EQUALITY STATE is inscribed in three lines to the right of the horse and rider motif. Underneath the horse and rider, running counterclockwise, are the date 2007 and under it the national motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. Sculptor Norman E. Nemeth’s initials “NEN” are located to the right of the horse and rider near the bottom.
The edge of the 2007-P Wyoming State quarter is reeded, as are the edges of all Washington quarters.
|Year Of Issue:||2007|
|Mint Mark:||P (Philadelphia)|
|Alloy:||75% copper, 25% nickel; 90% silver, 10% copper|
|OBV Designer||John Flanagan | William Cousins|
|REV Designer||Donna Weaver | Norman E. Nemeth|
|Quality:||Business Strike, Proof|