Silver Screen to Silver Coin

Anna May Wong becomes the first Asian American on US currency as part of a new program.


Andrew Edwards

The Anna May Wong quarter as part of the American Women Quarters Program. She is the first Asian American represented on US coinage.

Iris Lei, News Department Editor

   As the first Chinese-American film star in Hollywood, Anna May Wong opened up endless opportunities for those after her. Her quarter is part of the American Women Quarters Program that began this year and according to, “celebrates the accomplishments and contributions made by women of the United States.”

   “Important figures have been on coins for thousands of years, [it] used to be commonplace for Roman gods and goddesses and emperors to be on coins,” Social Science teacher Kevin Keith said. “It has a lot to do with marking significant people in a country’s history.”

   So far, coins depicting Maya Angelou, Dr. Sally Ride, Wilma Mankiller, and Nina Otero-Warren have been released before Anna May Wong. Next year’s selection has also been released on the United States Mint website.

   The American Women Quarter’s Program is a step towards changing the diversity on coins, as women and people of color have been historically under-represented. 

   “This is the government acknowledging that these people exist [and played] a really big part in our history,” Sophomore Lara Kullu said.

   Although these coins are commemorative and not in circulation, seeing a new face on the quarter might prompt individuals to learn more about her history.

   “It depends on the person, [and] I would,” Kullu said. “I know a lot of young girls would.”

   According to, coin-collecting was once referred to as the hobby of the kings and has since become commonplace for all ages. It began around 2,000 years ago following the introduction of coins. With no banks to hold their collections, people held onto coins with greater value and used lesser ones every day. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were coin collectors and later minted on their own coins. 

   Keith’s coin-collecting hobby began at a young age and before his generation.

   “My dad actually got me into it, and he had Roman coins inherited from his dad,” Keith said. “We later discovered that some of them were pretty rare.”

   According to Keith, it is possible to make money off the coins if done correctly, which drew him in. As a teenager, he started saving his money to buy silver and gold coins.

   “[My dad and I] would go down to the local coin shop, and we’d buy coins, occasionally we would go to a coin show,” Keith said. “Every year there’s a major state coin at the Orlando Convention Center, and there will be hundreds of people selling coins.”

   There are multiple reasons why someone might want to start collecting coins, and it isn’t always for investment.

   “Some do it because it ties into the past. It’s like, oh well, this coin was owned by this famous person, or this coin was around in the 1840s, 50s, or 1700s,” Keith said.

   Different coins have varying classifications that distinguish them, such as unusual money, colonials, and commemoratives, the latter of which is the Anna May Wong quarter.

   The American Women Quarters Program will run for three more years, and while the future is uncertain, there is a possibility of the diversity carrying on.

   “I hope it will,” Kullu said. “If the current voting climate carries over to the 2024 elections, then hopefully we will see it continuing or a similar program [created].”