The Idaho State Quarter was released on June 5, 2007, and is the 43rd coin in the U.S. Mint's 50 State Quarter Dollar series. The coin features a Peregrine Falcon as the primary device, with an outline of the State of Idaho to its lower right. The State Motto, Esto Perpetua, ("Let it be Perpetual,") also appears. Norm Nemeth engraved the reverse design of the coin.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark discovered Idaho in 1805 with the help of their Shoshone Indian guide Sacajawea. The expedition was seeking a water route to the Pacific Ocean from the eastern United States. While crossing the Bitterroot Mountains, the expedition ran short of supplies. The Nez Perce Indians provided aid to the expedition in the form of food, timber for making canoes, and trading horses for goods. The Nez Perce also guided Lewis and Clark across the dangerous mountains.
By the late 1800s, the settlement of Idaho reached its peak. Silver miners and farmers produced nearly $2 billion of revenue in 1885 mostly consisting of silver and potatoes. Although the mountainous wilderness and arid plains of Idaho discouraged settlement, the quest for riches and a better life overcame these obstacles.
Idaho State Quarter Design Selection Process
The choice of the Peregrine Falcon for the primary design device on the Idaho Quarter strikes most people as being odd and with good reason. The Peregrine Falcon isn't even the Idaho State Bird; the Mountain Bluebird has this honor. Idaho is best known for its incomparable potatoes, and its pristine wilderness areas, both of which would have been popular design choices for the Idaho State Quarter.
More than 1,200 design suggestions were submitted to the Idaho Commission of the Arts, which narrowed them down to ten semi-finalists. These semi-finalist designs were forwarded to Idaho's then-Governor Dirk Kempthorne, who had his choice of five of them rendered into formal design narratives. The U.S. Mint invited artists to submit designs for three of the narratives, resulting in proposed coins featuring: the Peregrine Falcon, the tapestry of farmland, and lyrics to the State Song.
Why is the Peregrine Falcon on the Idaho Quarter?
Once again, Governor Kempthorne retained the last word, selecting the Peregrine Falcon design from among these final three coin choices. The Peregrine Falcon, while a noble and beautiful bird, has no particular resonance to the average Idaho citizen. This falcon is found living in the wild virtually the world over; it is native to every continent, except Antarctica.
The apparent justification for this design choice is that a peregrine conservation organization based in Idaho is credited with doing a lot of work to save the Peregrine Falcon habitat and population in the American Northwest. While this is undoubtedly worthy work, does it deserve to stand as the enduring symbol of all Idahoans on our nation's coinage?
Idaho State Quarter Facts
- The Idaho Quarter design includes an outline of the State of Idaho, with a star denoting the State Capitol, Boise.
- Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state.
- The Idaho State Motto, Esto Perpetua, gained popular currency as the motto of the Venetian Republic during the 17th century. It was selected for Idaho shortly after Idaho was admitted to the Union.
- The word "Idaho" was once thought to have come from a Native American term meaning "gem of the mountain," but scholars have thoroughly discredited this as a probable hoax. The true origin of the word "Idaho" is unknown.
Fascinating Facts About the State of Idaho
- The world's first-ever ski chair-lift was erected in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1936.
- Fewer people are living in the entire state of Idaho (1.4 million) than there are in the top 9 U.S. metropolitan areas alone.
- Idaho was the last area of the United States landmass to be sighted by European settlers when it was first seen in 1805 by the members of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.
- The word "Idaho" (which has no previous meaning) was originally meant for the state that became Colorado. Colorado would have been the name for what is now Montana (and perhaps Montana would have become the name for Idaho!)
- Potatoes are not indigenous to Idaho. In fact, they weren't even grown there until 1836!
Edited by: James Bucki