There are two basic varieties of quarter currently circulating in the United States. This node will be dedicated to describing them in detail so that future generations will know what they look like if they don't happen to have one handy for some reason. Both varieties are silver in color and are made from what the mint ( calls "cupro-nickel clad, with a pure copper core, and an outer layer of a 75 percent copper, 25 percent nickel alloy." Extremely old quarters (especially from the 1950's and before), however, are made from pure silver and are differentiable by way of the clearer sound that they produce when struck or flipped. Based on my own measurements with a ruler, the quarter is around 34 millimeters in diameter and somewhere in the range of 1.25 millimeters thick. There are small ridges all along the edge, which is usually more copper in color than the rest of the coin.

The older sort of quarter, which for brevity's sake I'll simply refer to as the normal quarter, features the portrait of George Washington on the side known as the head of the coin. In said portrait, Washington is shown facing left in profile. His hair is somewhat slicked back and forms a ring of curls around the base of his skull as well as a widow's peak on his forehead. He also has a tail of hair running down his neck fastened with a subtle bow. His nose is vaguely Roman in shape and although it is hard to tell, he may be smirking. The portrait ends at the base of his neck. Directly below this is printed the year of the coin's minting, which is slightly bowed in order to conform to the curve of the coin. Just under Washington's chin are the words, "In God we trust," printed in all capitals like everything else on the coin with "In God we" on the first line and "trust" directly under it. Above Washington's head is the word, "Liberty," which again is bowed to conform to the curve of the coin. Just to the right of the bow on the back of his neck is either the letter D or the letter P, used to denote the mint of origin (either Denver or Philadelphia) for the particular coin. The tail side of the coin features an eagle facing forward with wings spread whose head is turned to the left. It appears to be resting with its feet on a bundle of arrows that are tied together. Below this, running from wing to wing are two of what I think are olive branches whose stems are tied just under the eagle's feet. Above the eagle's head are the Latin words, "E pluribus unum" meaning literally "out of many, one." "E pluribus" is on one line and unum is on the next. These and all other letters on the tail side of the coin are bowed in order to conform to the curve of the coin. Above that are the words "United States of America," which is printed all on one line. Under the olive branches are the value of the coin, "Quarter dollar." All printing on the tail side of the quarter is upside down with respect to the head side of the quarter such that if you look at Washington right side up the eagle will be upside down and vice versa. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the normal quarter.

The other variety is the fifty state quarter. The head side of this coin features the same George Washington portrait as the normal quarter, although none of the printing is the same. Under Washington's chin is the word "Liberty," again in all caps like the rest of the printing on the coin. Under the portrait are the words "Quarter dollar," which are again curved, as is "United States of America," which appears above Washington's head. The mint marking is a little farther to the right on this quarter, and above it is the inscription, "In God we trust," with "in" on the first line, "God we" on the second, and "trust" on the third. The tail side of this coin is extremely variable, as a number of different versions are planned for it; one for each state in the union. The name of the state appears at the top, curved, under which is the year of the state's induction into the union, also curved. At the bottom is "E pluribus unum" in very small bowed letters, over which is the year of minting. The main illustration on the tail side is the most variable part, however, and I'll simply catalog the dominant features here, as the years of entry have been covered by another node (see Fifty State Quarters). Connecticut features a large tree which appears to be leafless. Delaware features a man on a galloping horse facing left, to the left of which is the inscription, "Caesar Rodney" and to the right of which is the inscription, "The first state." Pennsylvania features a statue of a woman holding what appears to be a ribboned mace in her left hand with her right hand extended outward. She is wearing a classical robe. Behind her is an outline of the state, at the northwest corner of which is the outline of a keystone]. To the right of the statue is the inscription, "Virtue Liberty Independence," each appearing on separate lines. New Jersey features a replica of the famous painting, "Washington crossing the Delaware," under which is the inscription, "Crossroads of the revolution." Georgia features a peach over the outline of the state with leaved branches curving to the right and left and the words "Wisdom, Justice, Moderation" on sections of ribbon above the peach. Massachusetts features a minuteman over the outline of the state, to the right of which is the inscription, "The bay state." Maryland features the dome of its statehouse, around which appear the words "The old line state," on alternating sides of the dome and different lines. White oak leaves curve around the sides, framing the picture. South Carolina features a wren perched on a yellow jessamine branch next to a palmetto tree, all superimposed over the outline of the state and capped by the inscription "The palmetto state" that appears over the wren's head. From left to right, the New Hampshire quarter features nine stars in a curved line, the inscription "Live free or die," and the rock formation called the old man of the mountain, which is labeled accordingly. Virginia features a group of three ships on the sea with the closest and largest being the one on the right and size decreasing to the left. Below this is the word, "Quadricentennial," and above and to the left of it is "Jamestown 1607-2007." New York features the Statue of Liberty over the outline of the state and next to the words, "Gateway to Freedom." There are four stars to the left of this and seven to the right. North Carolina features the words, "First flight" over a picture of the Wright Brothers' plane over the beach at Kitty Hawk with a figure in the foreground observing said flight. Rhode Island features a sailboat on the water in front of a suspension bridge, with the words "The ocean state" above and to the right. Vermont features a figure extracting syrup from two maple trees in front of some mountains with the words, "Freedom and Unity" to the right. That is all of them, at least until the mint releases more.