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Historical change in your pocket

The next time you buy something and receive change, look at those coins before you put them away. If you have quarters, you may be putting history in your pocket.

Starting in 1999, the US Mint began issuing five quarters a year that honor individual states. By the end of 2008, every state will have a special quarter.

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These are being released in the order in which each state was admitted to the Union.

The first five quarters were for Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, and Connecticut. The last ones to ne issued will be Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii.

The front (called the obverse) of all the quarters is the same. It shows George Washington. It also says "United States of America," "Liberty," "In God We Trust," and "Quarter Dollar."

It's the backs, or reverse sides, of the quarters that are different.

Each state has chosen a design that commemorates something important about it. For instance, the most recently released quarter commemorates West Virginia. It has an engraving of the longest steel-arch bridge in the US, which spans the New River Gorge.

Have you seen all the quarters issued in 2005? They honor California, Minnesota, Oregon, and Kansas, as well as West Virginia.

The ones for 2006 will be Nevada, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

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Sources: 'The World Almanac for Kids 2006'; The US Mint