Collect Early Washington Quarters 13

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 2 decades since the eagle appeared on the reverse of the Washington Quarter. The Washington Quarter would have the same design for the first 62 years (except 1976). The Washington Quarter has been minted since 1932 and was almost stopped in 1964. With the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, it was considered to put him on the quarter, but First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy didn’t think that Washington should be taken off the quarter. So, here is a brief history of the early years of the Washington Quarter.

Brief History1932-S Washington Quarter Reverse

In 1930, a second commission was created to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Washington, first President of the US. Washington’s bicentennial would occur on April 22, 1932. One of the ideas to celebrate Washington was putting him on a coin. Unfortunately, this was happening during the Great Depression. The Peace Dollar hadn’t been minted since 1928 and with little demand, there was no thought of starting them again until 1934. One idea was to create a Washington Commemorative Half Dollar and replace the Walking Liberty Half Dollar in 1932. Like the Peace Dollar, the Walking Liberty Half Dollar hadn’t seen the light of day since 1929 before the depression and would reappear in circulation in 1933.

Against what the commission wanted to do, it was decided in 1931 to put Washington on the quarter. The Standing Liberty Quarter had been minted between 1916 and 1930. This quarter was difficult to produce and its design was not very favorable. In fact, like the Buffalo Nickel, the Standing Liberty Quarter would get worn down fairly quickly. So worn, that the date would be gone or unrecognizable. This was a chance to change the design on the quarter and commemorate Washington at the same time.

There would be a competition for the best design and the winner was John Flanagan. The obverse would be a profile of a bust of Washington designed by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1785. Liberty shown on top, In God We Trust on the left side and the date on the bottom. On the reverse is an eagle with wing spread across the sides, perched on arrows with olive branches below. The 1934 Philadelphia Quarter would have both a light motto and heavy motto as well as a double die variety. From 1932 to 1964, they were 90% silver with the mint mark on the reverse below the olive branches. From 1965 on, the quarters were clad (copper nickel) and the mint mark was the obverse to the right of the bottom of Washington’s hair.

Key Dates

Most of the Washington Quarter key dates would occur during the first decade of mintage. The rarest dates are the 1932-D and 1932-S with mintages of 436,800 and 408,000 respectively. Although the 1932-S is rarer, there have been less uncirculated 1932-D quarters found. So the value of the 1932-D uncirculated quarters are double the 1932-S. Other key dates include the 1934-D, 1935-D, 1935-S, 1936-D, 1936-S, 1937-D, 1937-S and 1940-D.

Bicentennial Quarters1976 Washington Reverse

With the 200th Anniversary of the Unites States in 1976, the mint had three different designs for the Washington Quarter, Kennedy Half Dollar and Eisenhower Dollar. The reverse of the Washington Quarter had a military drummer with a torch to the left of him with 13 stars around it. San Francisco would mint the usually clad proof quarters as well as 40% silver uncirculated and proof quarters.

Start Collecting the Early Washington Quarters

Collecting from 1941 to 1998 would be easy to complete. For a challenge, add the early quarters from 1932 to 1940. The 1932-D is the toughest with values over $1,000 in low mint states and around $300 in Extra Fine condition. Something to consider if you want to collect a modern set.

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13 thoughts on “Collect Early Washington Quarters

  • Daggok


    I found your article very interesting, I have to be honest I’m not even live in USA but the way yo described the history behind of the Washington Quarter was a very good read. So many versions of a coin and with 3 different designs in the last 18 years
    Is like some people say, every object has a History to tell


  • Karen

    This blog is extremely interesting as I save change in a large jug and when it’s full, bring it downtown to the coin machine and cash in for paper money. After reading this, I’m going to segregate the quarters and see if I have any valuable years and mints before giving them up.
    I’m bookmarking this site and will be back to hopefully learn about other coins.

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks Karen. I also have a plastic cup full of change that I bring to a coin machine from time to time. I do check the coins first because on occasion I may find a silver Jefferson Nickel or a Buffalo Nickel. Keep looking at your change. Who knows what you may find.

  • Karen

    This blog is extremely interesting as I save change in a large jug and when it’s full, bring it downtown to the coin machine and cash in for paper money. After reading this, I’m going to segregate the quarters and see if I have any valuable years and mints before giving them up.
    I’m bookmarking this site and will be back to hopefully learn about other coins.

  • Sandy

    I enjoyed reading your post especially because i’m a coin collector. It was my hobby to collect all sorts of quarters from different states because of the many designs, it was fun and interesting! This post brings back those memories, and after reading your post i’m once again inclined to do it! Thanks for a good read!

    • Kevin Post author

      It’s always nice to hear from another coin collector. I bought a map from the US Mint when they started the State Quarters and filled it. Now I’m trying to collect the newer Natural Park Quarters. Keep collecting those quarters!

  • Alfred James

    This is a really good review, thanks for share this information I really didn’t know that but I can see that a US family really can use this information and make some work to get their goals.

    I’m a really big fan of currencies, I guess that’s why I like to make the Forex business, and also, a fan of history in my country and around the world. This information is very interesting, thanks for share.

  • shelby

    Hi there! I found your article very interesting. I have been a hobby collector for a few years now. I mostly enjoy just going through change that I acquire while making purchases, but I also inherited a somewhat large collection from my grandparents. I love looking at the coins and finding them for “cheap” at flea markets and such. I had no idea about the 1932 quarters! I will be keeping an eye out for them!

    • Kevin Post author

      That’s great that you look for coins but be careful when buying coins at flea markets. Make sure about the person selling them. There have known to be fakes out there. I have even heard of counterfeit 1932-D and 1932-S quarters. Just friendly advice.

  • Forest BB Clem

    Hey KCorina,

    Thanks for your post. I have several silver Washington quarters. I’m not sure of the date but I think they are in the 30s and 40s.

    I’m not a coin collector as I am mostly a precious metal buyer. I bought a bag of “Junk Silver” (mostly half dollars but to complete the order, they sent me several dimes and quarters.

    I’ll check them out to see if they are in the dates that you mentioned.

    F. BB. Clem

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks for the comment Forest BB Clem! That’s great about the Junk Silver Bag, but definitely look at the dates, especially with the quarters and half dollars. You may find some that are worth more than their melt value.