Washington Quarter Overview
One of the most iconic pieces of American currency, the Washington quarter is a very attractive and recognizable coin that is an accessible series for any collector.
The Washington quarter was minted for the first time in 1932, the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. It was the successor to the Standing Liberty quarter which had not been struck at all the previous year.
The design chosen for the coin was created by John Flanagan, and it features on the obverse the famous profile bust portrait of our first president under the legend “LIBERTY.” Below Washington’s neck is the year of mintage, and on his left is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.”
The reverse displays a perched eagle with spread wings above an olive branch. The legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” is situated along the upper rim, with the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM” just above the eagle’s head. Along the lower rim is the denomination “QUARTER DOLLAR.”
The Washington quarter has undergone several compositional and design changes throughout its mintage. Coins minted from 1932 to 1964 are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper.
With a rapidly rising price of silver, the Mint changed the coin to a clad composition of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel in 1965. This would remain the same until the end of the Washington quarter in 1998.
In 1998, the Washington quarter was replaced by the Washington State quarter series.
History of the 1932 Washington Quarter
In 1932, the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression, and demand for new quarter pieces was low. Nevertheless, the Washington quarter was created to commemorate Washington’s birth.
Due to the economic turmoil of the time, the 1932 mintage was relatively low despite being produced in three locations.
Philadelphia minted the most, with 5,404,000 quarters struck. The Denver and San Francisco mints did not need to produce many quarters themselves, but in order to curb speculation and hoarding from the burgeoning population of numismatists, the Mint struck 436,800 quarters at Denver and 408,000 at San Francisco.
Despite their efforts, the 1932 issue, particularly the Denver and San Francisco mintages, is one of the most highly sought after and valued coins of the 20th century.
Compositionally, the 1932 Washington quarter falls in with the first type of the series, meaning it contains 90% silver.
Valuing the 1932 Washington Quarter
As with any coin containing a sizeable quantity of precious metal, the 1932 quarter’s minimum value is often its melt value, or how much it is worth to a precious metals dealer.
Based on the current price of silver, the melt value of this coin is around $2.91. This will not likely change based on the grade or condition of your coin.
Looking at the numismatic value of the 1932 Washington quarter, we see a good deal of variance among the three mintages.
Philadelphia, having by far the largest mintage, tends to be the least valuable minting. No mint mark is present on these coins.
For a coin graded between Good-4 and Fine-12, the value will be $4-7. This is generally the average range for these coins. Very Fine-20 and Extremely Fine-40 coins are valued at $7-9.
This increases to $12 in About Uncirculated-50 and $25 in Uncirculated (MS-60). The value dramatically rises to $434 for Uncirculated (MS-65). Coins above MS-65 are very rare and bring extremely high values. An MS-67 example sold for $28,200 in 2016!
San Francisco mintages bring much higher values than Philadelphia coins. Good-4 coins are worth $153; Very Good-8 coins, $179; Fine-12, $196; Very Fine-20, $232, Extremely Fine-40, $284; About Uncirculated-50, $310.
This increases to $458 in Uncirculated (MS-60) and $5,007 in Uncirculated (MS-65). Like Philadelphia, San Francisco coins about this grade claim very high premiums.
Denver issues are the most valuable: $127 for Good-4, $179 for Very Good-8, $196 for Fine-12, $258 for Very Fine-20, $310 for Extremely Fine-40, and $410 for About Uncirculated-50.
Uncirculated (MS-60) coins fetch a value of $1,108, and Uncirculated (MS-65) coins may bring up to $12,562. MS-66 Denver issues are valued at $110,000, and several have brought over $80,000 at auction!
With such high values on San Francisco and Denver coins, many Philadelphia mintages have had false mint marks added to them, so it is important to get your coin authenticated by a professional coin-grading service like NGC.