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A Pocketful of History: Four Hundred Years of America--One State Quarter at a Time

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Our past is all around us--even in the spare change jangling in your purse or pocket. For the past decade, the United States Mint has offered America a pocketful of history through its popular 50 State Quarters Program. When the final quarters are released, thousands of us will have collected these commemorative coins, one for each state and territory in the Union. But wha Our past is all around us--even in the spare change jangling in your purse or pocket. For the past decade, the United States Mint has offered America a pocketful of history through its popular 50 State Quarters Program. When the final quarters are released, thousands of us will have collected these commemorative coins, one for each state and territory in the Union. But what can we learn about our country's stories and lore from a mere $12.50 in quarters? Jim Noles's fascinating book, "A Pocketful of History", looks at each quarter in turn to answer these curious questions... -Who is Caesar Rodney and why is he riding a horse on Delaware's quarter? -What is the real history behind Abraham Lincoln's political career in his home state of Illinois? -What happened to New Hampshire's symbol, the "Old Man in the Mountain", three years after its quarter was minted? -What famous racecourse is memorialized on the quarter from the state known as "Crossroads of America"? -Why is Pennsylvania known as the Keystone State? -Why did California choose to honor preservationist John Muir rather than a gold-mining '49er? ...any many, many more. "A Pocketful of History" tells the story behind each state's quarter--how each state chose its design; what is important about the people, scenes, and themes depicted on the coins; and what the collection tells us about ourselves. It's an entertaining and enlightening journey through 400 years of America--in twenty-five-cent coins.


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Our past is all around us--even in the spare change jangling in your purse or pocket. For the past decade, the United States Mint has offered America a pocketful of history through its popular 50 State Quarters Program. When the final quarters are released, thousands of us will have collected these commemorative coins, one for each state and territory in the Union. But wha Our past is all around us--even in the spare change jangling in your purse or pocket. For the past decade, the United States Mint has offered America a pocketful of history through its popular 50 State Quarters Program. When the final quarters are released, thousands of us will have collected these commemorative coins, one for each state and territory in the Union. But what can we learn about our country's stories and lore from a mere $12.50 in quarters? Jim Noles's fascinating book, "A Pocketful of History", looks at each quarter in turn to answer these curious questions... -Who is Caesar Rodney and why is he riding a horse on Delaware's quarter? -What is the real history behind Abraham Lincoln's political career in his home state of Illinois? -What happened to New Hampshire's symbol, the "Old Man in the Mountain", three years after its quarter was minted? -What famous racecourse is memorialized on the quarter from the state known as "Crossroads of America"? -Why is Pennsylvania known as the Keystone State? -Why did California choose to honor preservationist John Muir rather than a gold-mining '49er? ...any many, many more. "A Pocketful of History" tells the story behind each state's quarter--how each state chose its design; what is important about the people, scenes, and themes depicted on the coins; and what the collection tells us about ourselves. It's an entertaining and enlightening journey through 400 years of America--in twenty-five-cent coins.

30 review for A Pocketful of History: Four Hundred Years of America--One State Quarter at a Time

  1. 5 out of 5

    Suzann

    The book is pretty inconsistent between chapters, which is not what I would have expected. Each state has a chapter, and the type of content varies wildly. Meh.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    I enjoyed this book. It's not a great book or an especially important book, but it's chocked full of interesting bits of trivia and American history (like the story of the near creation of the state of Sequoyah out of then Indian Territory or the questionable legality of Ohio's quarter). As someone who has actively collected the quarters in the 50 State program, I was pleased to find this book as it shed light on the stories behind the images, as well as on some of the near-images (as a native o I enjoyed this book. It's not a great book or an especially important book, but it's chocked full of interesting bits of trivia and American history (like the story of the near creation of the state of Sequoyah out of then Indian Territory or the questionable legality of Ohio's quarter). As someone who has actively collected the quarters in the 50 State program, I was pleased to find this book as it shed light on the stories behind the images, as well as on some of the near-images (as a native of Indiana, I'm still dismayed that a race car was chosen over a figure such as Chief Little Turtle). A highly recommended read for anyone who has participated in collecting the statehood quarters or is interested in historical anecdotes. Be sure to pick up the updated version in paperback that includes the stories behind the six district/territory quarters being released in 2009!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    So we all started to collect those state quarters 10 years ago, does it seem like it was that long ago?? We looked at what was on the backk of each one and sometimes we were like "cool" and other times we were like "what the heck is that and what does it have to do with Deleware anyway?" Well, for anyone who has ever wondered as we collet the final 5 states this year, this book is the one to read. It is a quick read since each state takes only about 3 pages, so it is easy to pick up and put down So we all started to collect those state quarters 10 years ago, does it seem like it was that long ago?? We looked at what was on the backk of each one and sometimes we were like "cool" and other times we were like "what the heck is that and what does it have to do with Deleware anyway?" Well, for anyone who has ever wondered as we collet the final 5 states this year, this book is the one to read. It is a quick read since each state takes only about 3 pages, so it is easy to pick up and put down if you don't want to commit to it for too long. But, it will fill you in on what that thing is on the back of each coin, why it is important, what it means, why it was chosen over others, and what some of the other options were. I like to know how things work, so I really liked this one.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Each of the 50 chapters talks about the design of the quarter and how it relates to state history. The Washington state quarter, for example, launches a discussion about the first white man to attempt to climb Mt. Rainier (August Kutz who made it 400 feet short of the summit in 1857). That same year, Kutz tried unsuccessfully to exonerate Chief Leschi, who had been convicted of murdering an American officer. Of course, some states have more interesting tales than others. Wisconsin's dairy histor Each of the 50 chapters talks about the design of the quarter and how it relates to state history. The Washington state quarter, for example, launches a discussion about the first white man to attempt to climb Mt. Rainier (August Kutz who made it 400 feet short of the summit in 1857). That same year, Kutz tried unsuccessfully to exonerate Chief Leschi, who had been convicted of murdering an American officer. Of course, some states have more interesting tales than others. Wisconsin's dairy history and Arkansas' diamond boom were not nearly as enlightening as the socialist background of Alabama's Helen Keller and profiles on Ohio's John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. Also of interest - the Native American translation for Chimney Rock in Nebraska. Look it up.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alethea

    I've been fascinated by the State Quarters project since it began, and was really looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, the widely varied designs chosen by the states don't lend themselves easily to the five-page-account used as a format here, and some of the articles are pretty wild stretches indeed (a CIA training camp for Tibetan resistance fighters in the Rockies for Colorado's mountainside quarter?) For several of the quarters, I'd have liked more discussion of what was on th I've been fascinated by the State Quarters project since it began, and was really looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, the widely varied designs chosen by the states don't lend themselves easily to the five-page-account used as a format here, and some of the articles are pretty wild stretches indeed (a CIA training camp for Tibetan resistance fighters in the Rockies for Colorado's mountainside quarter?) For several of the quarters, I'd have liked more discussion of what was on the quarter--motto, slogan, random leaves--rather than a wild groping after some historical moment vaguely related to the image. All in all, rather a disappointment.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Because I do the whole penny thing on the first day of classes, and because I also mention that the state quarters are an even more complicated foray into official iconography and interpretation, this book jumped out at me for sheer trivia trolling. Noles explains how each state chose its design (almost every decision roiled in political considerations and sometimes nasty historical baggage)and gives background on the choice---from the Charter Oak to the Idaho Bird of Prey (the fight for the pot Because I do the whole penny thing on the first day of classes, and because I also mention that the state quarters are an even more complicated foray into official iconography and interpretation, this book jumped out at me for sheer trivia trolling. Noles explains how each state chose its design (almost every decision roiled in political considerations and sometimes nasty historical baggage)and gives background on the choice---from the Charter Oak to the Idaho Bird of Prey (the fight for the potato was finally lost on the design board).

  7. 4 out of 5

    james

    This is an interesting view of the history of all 50 states. The US Mint, starting in 1999, issued 5 quarters per year for 10 years, with a representation of each state on the reverse of the coin. The states each sponsored contests to determine the final design. Since then, another 6 coins were issued for all remaining US turf: DC, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, and Northern Marianas. I decided to read 2 or 3 states every day rather than the whole thing at one reading. Very informativ This is an interesting view of the history of all 50 states. The US Mint, starting in 1999, issued 5 quarters per year for 10 years, with a representation of each state on the reverse of the coin. The states each sponsored contests to determine the final design. Since then, another 6 coins were issued for all remaining US turf: DC, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, and Northern Marianas. I decided to read 2 or 3 states every day rather than the whole thing at one reading. Very informative.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark A Powell

    Buoyed by the success of the 50 State Quarters program, Noles takes a look at what each state selected for their quarter and, one state at a time, discusses the historical meaning of the image and occasionally goes into the selection process itself. The shortness of the chapters only allows for a surface-level investigation, but Noles does well in giving each state equal time. Although, as you might guess, some stories are more interesting than others.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alycia

    I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't exactly it. Each quarter is given a handful of pages, but the author occasionally has to really stretch to cover them. I think this says more about the choices some states made to adorn their quarters, rather than the author. All in all a fairly interesting read, made easier by the fact that you could drop in and out without worrying about losing the thread of the narrative. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn't exactly it. Each quarter is given a handful of pages, but the author occasionally has to really stretch to cover them. I think this says more about the choices some states made to adorn their quarters, rather than the author. All in all a fairly interesting read, made easier by the fact that you could drop in and out without worrying about losing the thread of the narrative.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    If it's not evident by now, I'm a geek. :P So this book about the state quarters is right up my alley! Each quarter gets a chapter, with the author explaining what the different images represent and the selection process that went into picking each state representation. I was hoping for a bit more detail on the process, but it was still a very interesting read. If it's not evident by now, I'm a geek. :P So this book about the state quarters is right up my alley! Each quarter gets a chapter, with the author explaining what the different images represent and the selection process that went into picking each state representation. I was hoping for a bit more detail on the process, but it was still a very interesting read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tometheus

    For the most part, it's a good book about the history behind the images in the State Quarter collection. I do think he should have waited a few months until the final quarters were produced, and a few of the chapters really became side-tracked, having little to do with the actual iconography. Overall, however, it made the quarters much more interesting from a historical perspective. For the most part, it's a good book about the history behind the images in the State Quarter collection. I do think he should have waited a few months until the final quarters were produced, and a few of the chapters really became side-tracked, having little to do with the actual iconography. Overall, however, it made the quarters much more interesting from a historical perspective.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bj Yazz

    The book has a chapter on each of the state quarters in the order they were issues, i.e. in the order they became states. The history behind each state quarter is different and fun to read. Learned all kinds of interesting tidbits about many of the states.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    I am fascinated by the stories behind the State Quarter designs, the history, the people, the natural beauty of this vast country. This book will inspire you to learn more and to get out and explore the wonders of America.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Allen Steele

    This was very good. Written in 2008, as I it's behind on current events, but as for history it was very informative & entertaining. Every high school student should read at the minium their own state. This was very good. Written in 2008, as I it's behind on current events, but as for history it was very informative & entertaining. Every high school student should read at the minium their own state.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Montanasmith

    I am reading this book in honor of my Grandfather. I sent him state quarters for years. Now I can learn the history behind them. Really enjoyed this book. I am not an avid coin collector but learning the history behind the designs was great.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Heidi Klinowski

    Fascinating

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Only a few facts about each state - but interesting.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    You'll never look at the state quarters the same way again. Some chapters were interesting and enlightening, others were vaguely insulting--like the chapter on the KY quarter. You'll never look at the state quarters the same way again. Some chapters were interesting and enlightening, others were vaguely insulting--like the chapter on the KY quarter.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kasen

    I enjoyed learning about the history of the images on the state quarter. Jim did really well, and I hope he does one with the territories and parks.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jonah

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  22. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  23. 4 out of 5

    John

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stina

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  26. 4 out of 5

    George

  27. 4 out of 5

    William Miller

  28. 4 out of 5

    E.J. Randolph

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elderberrywine

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