The Florida state quarter was the 27th coin released in the United States Mint's 50 State Quarters® Program. It was made available to the general public on 29 March 2004. During an approximately 10-week period, the Denver and Philadelphia Mints produced 241,600,000 and 240,200,000 of the quarters, respectively. The coin's order of appearance in the series was derived from the fact that Florida was the 27th state to be admitted to the Union.
This date of the release of the Florida state quarter was in keeping with the intent and goals of the program's overall objectives. The 50 State Quarters® Program was a result of a federal law — The 50 States Commemorative Coin Program Act — passed by the U.S. Congress in 1997. The program was launched in 1999 and authorized the design and manufacture of coins intended to honor each state. Five different state quarters were produced annually over a span of 10 years. Production dates were established that allowed each quarter to be released in the respective order of official statehood or ratification of the state's constitution.
The obverse, or front, of this quarter — as is true of all the coins in the program — features an engraving of George Washington. The words on that side of the coin are "In God We Trust," "United States of America," "Liberty," and "Quarter Dollar." The reverse of the coin holds the specific design that commemorates Florida. These engravings consist of a Spanish galleon, sabal palm trees and the Space Shuttle. Slogans found on the quarter's reverse are "E Pluribus Unum" and "Gateway to Discovery."
The depictions on the reverse of the Florida state quarter represent historical milestones. The galleon is meant to acknowledge Spanish explorers Ponce de León and Hernando DeSoto. Both men explored the state in the 1500s, with the former giving it the name Pascua Florida, which means "flowery Easter." The image of the space shuttle pays homage to Cape Kennedy, the launching point of not only all shuttle flights but also the manned capsules used in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. The sabal palm was designated the state tree of Florida in 1953.
The person who submitted the winning design for the Florida state quarter was Ralph Butler; the engraver was T. James Farrell. The Florida state quarter weighs 0.2 ounces (about 5.7 g) and has a diameter of about 1 inch (about 24.3 mm). The coin's thickness is 0.07 inches (about 1.8 mm). The quarter's composition is 91.67 percent copper and 8.33 percent nickel.