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(Louisiana State Quarter Die Trials)

By Land ~ Sea Discovery Group Staff


In the year 1803 Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon Bonaparte for $15,000,00.00. It has since become known as the greatest real estate deal in history providing the country with thirteen new states and doubling its size and making it one of the largest countries in the world.

On April 30, 1812 Louisiana joined the Union and became the 18th in that growing list of states forming the United States of America.

A normal 2002 P Louisiana State Quarter

So, it is only fitting that on May 20, 2002 the Louisiana State Quarter became the 18th quarter to be released by the U.S. Mint since the program’s inception. The Louisiana State quarter was the third to be released in 2002.

The governor of Louisiana Mike Foster Jr. created the Louisiana Commemorative Coin Advisory Commission, which then solicited design ideas from Louisiana residents. Based on the 1193 submissions, Governor Foster submitted five design concepts to the U.S. Mint. The Governor then selected the final design.

The design consists of three elements. The first of these is the Brown Pelican. Louisiana’s nickname “The Pelican State” is so named for this indigenous bird, which for some time was on the endangered species list, and only recently has be put on “recovered” status. The second is an outline of the United States with the area of the Louisiana Purchase clearly marked and outlined. To the right of this highlighted area are the words, LOUISIANA PURCHASE. The third element is a trumpet and musical notes that represent the birth of jazz music in New Orleans.


In the earliest striking of any coin there is an adjustment made to insure the correct pressure settings. These die adjustment strikes are called die trials. The first die trials out of the pressing have very little pressure and leave a very weak striking on the coin. Gradually the pressure is increased until it reaches the optimum level. Keep in mind the coins are being pressed very quickly perhaps up to 12 per second. Once the settings are proper the die trials are destroyed and rarely found in circulation. Any coins found to be die trials are considered error coins. Note that the die trial coins are full weight planchetts.


On October 16, 2002 I was given the rare opportunity to study a number of die trials of the Louisiana State Quarter with the Philadelphia Mint mark. Though I am not at liberty to say how many coins were placed in the study, I will say that it was sufficient to complete the study with an excellent degree of accuracy.

The coins fell into five basic degrees of pressings and the most consistent factor in my determining the differences of the degrees were the states of relief of the Brown Pelican. Other points on the coins did not always remain consistent.

2002 P Louisiana State Quarter die trials reverse side.

1. The lightest pressure and first degree. In this degree the head of the pelican is just visible. There may be in the center a near complete outline of the Louisiana Purchase. No date.

2. The second degree the pressure has been increased a slight degree and a ¾ view of the pelican is exposed. Chest area and head showing more prominent. The outline of the Louisiana Purchase is now very prominent, the words LOUISIANA PURCHASE are two thirds complete, and the trumpet begins to appear. No date.

3. The third degree of pressing produced a near full pelican, but without detail of wings etc. The outline of the United States has appeared, the trumpet is more pronounced, musical notes appear, and parts of LOUISIANA 1812 are near complete. On the bottom of the coin E PLURIBUS UNUM is appearing but not complete. There still is no date.

4. In the forth degree our pelican is even more pronounced, but the key factor in this degree is the date has appeared though faint next to the pelican. The country is fairly well outlined though Florida is weak. The words LOUISIANA PURCHASE is near complete though weak on the right edge.

5. The fifth degree is moving rapidly towards a near complete coin. The pelican is complete though still does not show his complete detail of his wing, beak, and eye. The date is much stronger in relief. Nearly all the other features of the coin are complete however the date, last letters of LOUISIANA PURCHACE, and at the top LOUISIANA may be thin still.

2002 P Louisiana State Quarter die trials obverse side.

As you can well imagine, often just finding one die trial of a particular coin is extremely rare. Finding a progressive run is an exceedingly rare find. I can honestly say that in a life time you may be able to find one or two of these, but to be able to put a set together to show the progressive state of pressing the coins in the die trials will be near impossible. I believe that if this example of die trials interests you, that you check with knowledgeable coin dealers and you will find that this is indeed a rare item.

If you are interested in owning a set of 5 progressive die trials for the 2002 P Louisiana State Quarter, check in the marketplace for availability. I doubt you will not find them anywhere else in the world.