United States

What Is the History of the Oklahoma State Quarter?

The Oklahoma State Quarter, minted in 2008, is a tribute to the state's indigenous heritage and natural beauty, featuring the Scissortail Flycatcher and Oklahoma's state wildflower, the Indian Blanket. This coin is part of the 50 State Quarters Program, celebrating the unique qualities of each state. Wondering how this design was chosen and what it signifies? Let's explore the story behind the coin.
Mark Wollacott
Mark Wollacott

The Oklahoma State Quarter dates back to 2008 and is the 46th quarter to be released in the United States Mint 50 States series. The Mint has issued each quarter in the same order the states got admitted to the Union. As with other quarters, the Oklahoma state quarter’s design was chosen by popular vote and by the state governor. Despite this, fewer Oklahoma quarters have been produced than any of the other quarters in the series.

Oklahoma became the United States’ 46th state when it joined the Union in 1907. The state has a much longer history, as it was part of the original Louisiana State Purchase in 1803. As well as its rich and often painful Native American history, the state owes its existence to a large number of immigrants from across America and Europe and to the discovery of oil.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The Oklahoma state quarter itself features the year of its issue, 2008, and the Latin phrase E Pluribus Unum, meaning “out of many, one.” The coin features the Scissortail Flycatcher, the state bird of Oklahoma, and the state wildflower, the Indian Blanket. The front of the coin is topped off with “Oklahoma 1907.”

Choosing the Oklahoma state quarter was a democratic process that took a number of years to complete. The first stage of the process was to allow people to send in design concepts. In the end, the Denver Mint received a thousand concepts. The mint then whittled this number down to a shortlist of five.

The shortlist was revealed to the Oklahoma public in 2007. At the same time, a popular vote was opened up for citizens to express their opinions on which design was the best. The public overwhelmingly voted for the Scissortail Flycatcher design created from the original concept by Susan Gamble, who is one of the Mint’s five master designers, while the state governor at the time, Brad Henry, decided to vote in favor of the voters’ favorite.

The final stage of selecting the Oklahoma state quarter was for the design to be approved by the US Treasury Department. As all the factions of state and national government had approved Gamble’s design, the coin could then be engraved by Phebe Hemphill. The coin was then mass-produced in Denver and released in Oklahoma on 28 January 2008.

The broader concept of the state coins dates back many more years to the foundation of the 50 States series in 1997. The aim of the series was to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to collect each of the 50 state quarters and, later, those of the capital and other territories. The idea for the series arose in 1993 with the Citizens Commemorative Coin Advisory Committee, but was not approved by the committee until 1995. Philip N. Diehl then swung Representative Michael Castle to the idea in 1995 by suggesting the coins be released in the order of accessions to the Union. Both houses of Congress approved the idea in 1996 and the selection process began.

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