Washington Quarter Overview
A long lasting commemoration of America’s first president, the Washington quarter is a quintessential piece of US coinage and a great coin for beginning collectors.
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The Washington quarter was first minted in 1932 during the Great Depression. The economic crisis meant that the demand for new quarters was more or less nonexistent. However, as the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth approached, the Mint decided to go ahead with this commemorative coin.
John Flanagan was responsible for the design of the new quarter dollar piece. His simple yet iconic obverse design features a profile bust portrait of Washington, above which is the legend “LIBERTY.” Below Washington is the year of mintage, and in the left field is the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.”
At the center of the similarly iconic reverse is an eagle with outspread wings perched on a log. Under the eagle is an olive branch, and above is the motto “E PLURIBUS UNUM.”
The upper rim holds the legend “UNITED STATES AMERICA,” and at the bottom is the denomination “QUARTER DOLLAR.” Just above the denomination is the mint mark, if one is present.
Due to a spike in silver value, the coins was switched in 1965 to a clad composition of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel. This composition was used until the end of the Washington quarter in 1998, when the series was replaced by the Washington State quarters.
History of the 1950 Washington Quarter
1950 saw a fair number of Washington quarters minted. Quarters this year were struck in Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco.
Philadelphia struck the most quarters in 1950r: 24,971,512. Denver was a close second with 21,075,600. By far the lowest, San Francisco, which had produced no quarters the previous year, only struck 10,284,004.
The Philadelphia and Denver specimens are generally well struck, but San Francisco examples, thanks to an abundance of overused dies, often display blurred details and furrowed fields.
Repunched mint mark varieties exist for Denver and San Francisco coins, and doubled die reverse varieties are found in Denver and Philadelphia coins. The most coveted varieties for the 1950 quarter, however, are D over S and S over D mint mark varieties, as discussed in the following section.
Mint Mark Varieties
The two most valuable varieties for this issue originate from instances where a mint mark was punched over a different mint mark on a die. In one case, an “S” mint mark has been impressed over a “D” mint mark. In the other case, the opposite is true.
What is believed to have happened is that when either San Francisco or Denver ordered new dies, the Philadelphia Mint was lacking one die to fill the order and thus took a pre-existing die and repunched the mint mark on it.
Curiously enough, the opposite situation must have occurred later, giving us the other variety.
Both the S over D and D over S varieties are rare and greatly increase the value of the quarter. However, if you think you are in possession of one of these varieties, make sure you do not actually have a more common repunched mint mark variety. To avoid the confusion, consider taking your coin to a professional grading service like NGC.
Valuing the 1950 Washington Quarter
1950 Washington quarters remain fairly common today even into higher grades, and their value reflects this. However, the right coin in good condition can bring a decent price, and all grades are worth well above face value.
Seeing as the 1950 issue contains 90% silver, its minimum value is often its melt value, or what it is worth to a precious metals dealer. Based on the current price of silver, the melt value of this coin is around $2.90.
Interestingly, there is not much value difference between the various mint marks. Good-4 through Extremely Fine-40 grades are valued at $4.26. This is the average value for these coins.
The value increases slightly to $5.08-$5.33 in About Uncirculated-50 and $6.18-$9.24 in Uncirculated (MS-60).
Uncirculated (MS-65) specimens are worth from $35 to $46, and proofs may bring up to $72.
The mint mark varieties discussed in the above section are by far the most valuable. Values for the D over S variety are as follows: $35 for Good-4, $60 for Very Good-8, $83 for Fine-12, $93 for Very Fine-20, $153 for Extremely Fine-40, $205 for About Uncirculated-50, $310 Uncirculated (MS-60), and $2,994 for Uncirculated (MS-65).
An MS-67 example even sold for $29,375 at auction in 2013!The S over D variety tends to be a bit more valuable in all but the highest grades: $46 for Good-4, $72 for Very Good-8, $93 for Fine-12, $101 for Very Fine-20, $153 for Extremely Fine-40, $258 for About Uncirculated-50, $361 for Uncirculated (MS-60), and $1,024 for Uncirculated (MS-65).