The Ohio State Quarter was introduced to America on 11 March 2002. It was the 17th coin out of 50 in the US Mint 50 States series. The idea behind the series was to honor each of America’s states with a special quarter and possibly attract new coin collectors. The history of the Ohio State Quarter dates back to the early 1990s and is firmly linked to the state’s own history.
The reason for the Ohio State Quarter being the 17th quarter in the series has nothing to do with the alphabet or with random chance. It was chosen as the 17th because Ohio was the 17th state to join the Union. Ohio was historically important during the Colonial and Revolutionary Eras of America and is seen as a bellwether state in American elections.
The 50 States series was officially launched by the United States Mint in 1997, but the idea dates back to the 1993 meeting of the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee. During the meeting, member David Ganz suggested the committee launch a commemorative coin series. He did not manage to sway the committee until 1995, when Committee Chairman and Director of the Mint, Philip N. Diehl, began working to get Congress on board. Diehl only managed this when he floated the idea of releasing the coins in the same order in which the states were accepted into the Union. The United States Commemorative Coin Act of 1996 formalized the idea and the series was launched officially a year later.
The history of the Ohio coin dates back to 2000 and 2001. With the front of the coin being standard for a US quarter, it was the back that people got to design. The element open to variation was the central picture, as the top of the coin would name the state and the year of accession, while the bottom would read a Latin phrase meaning “Out of many, one” in English.
Once the Ohio state quarter design was opened up to residents of Ohio, 7,000 design concepts were sent to the Mint. The mint then whittled down that number by popular vote to just four designs. Nearly 40,000 Ohioans took part in the vote. These four favorite ideas were then turned into coin mockups and submitted for a final decision.
Each of the top four designs had something in common: aviation. The winning design, made into coin form by United States Mint Master Designer Donna Weaver, features the state’s outline in the background. On the left is the Wright Brother’s plane over the words “Birthplace of Pioneers” and on the right is an astronaut. The astronaut could be either Neil Armstrong or John Glenn, who were both born in the state.
To be accepted, the coin had to be approved by the State Governor, Bob Taft, and then approved by the US Treasury Department. Once cleared, the Ohio State Quarter was engraved by its designer, Donna Weaver. It was minted in both Denver and Philadelphia.