Washington Quarter Overview
One of the most iconic and common U.S. coins, the Washington quarter has remained popular throughout its long mintage and is a great coin for beginning collectors.
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The Washington quarter was created in 1932, when America was suffering the economic pangs of the Great Depression. Despite having no need of new quarter pieces, the Mint devised the Washington quarter as a way of commemorating the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth.
It was John Flanagan who designed the beloved coin. The instantly-recognizable obverse features a profile bust portrait of Washington with the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” in the left field. Above Washington’s head is the word “LIBERTY,” and below him is the year of mintage.
The reverse is dominated by an eagle with outspread wings perched above an olive branch. Above the eagle’s head are the legends “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “E PLURIBUS UNUM,” and the denomination “QUARTER DOLLAR” is found on the lower rim.
In terms of composition, there are two types of Washington quarters. The first type, which was used from 1932 to 1964, consisted of 90% silver and 10% copper.
The second composition type came as a response to a spike in the price of silver which made minting of the silver quarters unsustainable. This second type was implemented in 1965 and consists of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel.
Washington quarters were minted until 1998, when they were replaced by the Washington State quarters. Flanagan’s obverse design continued to be used in a slightly modified form.
History of the 1937 Washington Quarter
1937, the sixth year of production for the Washington quarter, saw a decrease in the number of quarters produced, likely in response to the brief economic recession that plagued 1937 and 1938.
In this year, quarters were struck at three locations: Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.
The majority were produced at Philadelphia: 19,690,000. In general, these Philadelphia coins show high quality strikes and luster.
Next is Denver, which reports minting 7,189,600 quarters. These coins generally display the highest quality strikes of all three mints.
The San Francisco mint struck the lowest number of quarters: 1,652,000. San Francisco-produced quarters of this year are unique in that their obverse rim is a bit higher up on the coin, touching the mintage date numerals. The result of this is that the obverse face tends to wear less with circulation than the reverse face.
Additionally, a major doubled die obverse is known for Philadelphia quarters of this year.
Compositionally, 1937 quarters fall within the first type of 90% silver. Typical for the series, they have a diameter of 24.3 millimeters and a mass of 6.25 grams.
Valuing the 1937 Washington Quarter
Despite their lower mintage, 1937 Washington quarters are still relatively common today and may even show up from time to time in pocket change. Nevertheless, they carry fair prices even in lower grades, and higher grades can bring a fine premium.
As with any coin that contains a significant portion of precious metal, the 1937 quarter’s minimum value is often its melt value. Based on the current price of silver, the melt value for this coin is around $2.80.
Numismatically, the value of this coin varies depending not only on condition but also on mint location.
Philadelphia mintages, which show no mint mark, generally bring the lowest values. Good-4 to Very Fine-20 grade coins are valued at $4.16. This is the average value for these coins.
The value increases to $5.23 in Extremely Fine-40, $9.13 in About Uncirculated-50, $25 in Uncirculated (MS-60), and $93 in Uncirculated (MS-65). Proofs are worth $504.
Denver mintages are worth a bit more and can be identified by a “D” mint mark above the denomination on the reverse face. Good-4 to Very Good-8 grades are worth $4.16.
This value increases to $6.08 in Fine-12, $8.33 in Very Fine-20, $12 in Extremely Fine-40, $31 in About Uncirculated-50, $72 in Uncirculated (MS-60), and $153 in Uncirculated (MS-65).
San Francisco mintages, likely due to their low production number, are the most valuable of the three locations and are signified by an “S” mint mark.
The value of San Francisco quarters are as follows: $7.20 for Good-4, $12 for Very Good-8, $21 for Fine-12, $25 for Very Fine-20, $35 for Extremely Fine-40, $97 for About Uncirculated-50, $153 for Uncirculated (MS-60), and $410 for Uncirculated (MS-65).
Far and away the most valuable 1937 quarter is the doubled die obverse variety. Good-4 grades of this unique coin are worth $232. Very Good-8 to Fine-12 grades range from $310 to $335. Very Fine-20 coins are worth $504, and Extremely Fine-40 grades are worth $708.
The value increases dramatically to $1,547 in About Uncirculated-50 and $2,541 in Uncirculated (MS-60). Uncirculated (MS-65) examples may be worth up to $12,262!
Doubled die obverse quarters are most easily identified by looking at the “IN GOD WE TRUST” inscription. If you think you have one of these varieties, consider having it certified by a professional grading service.