Between 1999 and 2008, the 50 State Quarters circulating commemorative coin program honored each state in the order in which it joined the Union. The series was authorized by Public Law 105-124 on December 1, 1997. Five quarters were released every year with a common obverse and different reverses representative of the states being commemorated. The program proved popular with the American public, bringing many new collectors into the hobby.
The 1999 Connecticut quarter, released on October 12, was the fifth issue in the 50 State Quarters series and the final issue for 1999. Connecticut became the fifth state to ratify the United States Constitution on January 9, 1788.
The obverse of the 1999 Connecticut quarter is the common obverse of the 50 State Quarters series. It shows 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 remains the obverse design for the quarter for the duration of the America the Beautiful Quarter series.
The 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 States Quarter designs. The mintmark is seen to the right of Washington’s ponytail.
The reverse of the Connecticut quarter features the Charter Oak, a traditional symbol of freedom and independence to the state.
At one point in the late 17th century, the governor of colonial New York demanded that Connecticut give up its royal charter and acknowledge his authority over the colony. Connecticut refused, and the conflict lasted for over a decade. In 1687, Governor Edmund Andros and a group of armed troops went to Hartford to meet with colony leaders – supposedly to accept the surrender of the charter document itself. According to legend, the charter lay on the table between the colonists and the governor as the meeting commenced but the colonists blew out the candles. When light was restored to the room, the charter was gone.
“The Charter Oak” by Frederic Church, 1846. Florence Griswold Museum
And while Governor Andros did force the colony to submit, he never managed to possess the actual charter. It is said that it was hidden in the Charter Oak.
The most striking aspect of the reverse design is the intricate depiction of the tree’s branches, which fan out over most of the face of the coin. CONNECTICUT and 1788 (the year the state ratified the Constitution) are found above the tree. Under the lowest branches of the oak on the left side but over a brief stretch of ground is the caption THE CHARTER OAK, with the word “THE” stacked upon the other two words in the phrase. At ground level to the right of the tree is a section of stonework wall. In the exergue beneath the ground and the tree is the date of issue, 1999, and the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM.
U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver T. James Ferrell adapted the original design submitted by Andy Jones for the reverse; his italicized initials “TJF” are found below the wall near the rim, to the right of the “M” in UNUM.
Like all coins in the 50 State Quarters program, the edge of the 1999 Connecticut quarter is reeded.
The formidable tree, which had been important to Native Americans for hundreds of years before the English arrive, finally succumbed to storm damage in 1856. This makes the 1999 Connecticut State Quarter one of two quarters in the series that depict landmarks that no longer exist; the ninth coin in the series, the 2000 New Hampshire quarter, depicts the famous New Hampshire rock formation the “Old Man of the Mountain“, which crumbled away in 2003.
It is also depicted as it would’ve appeared during Winter.
American sculptor John Flanagan’s work in the medallic and metal arts ranks him as one of the best artists of his generation. For generations of coin collectors, he is best known for his Washington quarter design (View Designer’s Profile).
Andy Jones, then a teacher at Eastern Connecticut State University, submitted the winning design of the Charter Oak to the Connecticut Commission of Arts, which oversaw the design approval process for the quarter.
William Cousins and T. James Ferrell are both sculptor-engravers at the United States Mint.
|Year Of Issue:||1999|
|Mint Mark:||P, D, S|
|Mintage:||1,350,337,359 (clad); 804,565 (silver)|
|Alloy:||75% copper, 25% nickel (clad); 90% silver, 10% copper (silver)|
|Weight:||5.67 grams (clad); 6.25 grams (silver)|
|OBV Designer||John Flanagan | William Cousins|
|REV Designer||Andy Jones | T. James Ferrell|
|Quality:||Business Strike, Uncirculated, Proof|
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