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Coin Of the Month

Plinky's Coin of the Month
October 1999

Would you believe there's a U.S. quarter with a Spanish queen's portrait?  It's true.  This commemorative coin was minted in 1893.  Can you name the famous queen?

Hint: In 1492, she helped three ships sail the ocean blue.

The famous queen is Isabella I of Spain.  She and her husband, King Ferdinand, gave Christopher Columbus the money he needed for his 1492 voyage to the New World.  On October 12th, his Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria landed in what is now the Bahamas.

Why does Queen Isabella appear on a U.S. quarter minted in 1893?  That year, Chicago hosted a world's fair celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage.  More than 27.5 million people came to this six-month event.  For souvenirs, the fair's Board of Lady Managers asked for and got this first U.S. commemorative quarter.  (The United States Mint also made the first commemorative half dollar and dollar for the fair.)  A little over 24,000 of the Isabella Quarters were made, each selling for a dollar.

What other firsts marked the World's Columbian Exposition?  The first Ferris wheel was built for the fair, and it was there that Americans saw their first picture postcards and boxes of Cracker Jacks®!

The Isabella Commemorative Quarter Obverse
Obverse:  Queen Isabella I of Spain, shown on the obverse, is the only foreign ruler to appear on a U.S. coin.

The Isabella Commemorative Quarter Reverse
Reverse:  The coin's reverse, a female kneeling next to a spindle, is an emblem for women and their work.

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