The Washington quarter is the current quarter dollar, worth 0.25 US dollars or 25-cents. It was issued by the United States Mint beginning in 1932. The quarter’s metal composition changed in 1964. The earliest version of the coin, which features a side profile of George Washington, the first president of the US, was done by sculptor John Flanagan.
In 1932, the United States was preparing to celebrate the bicentennial, or 200 year anniversary of the birth of its first president, George Washington. In anticipation of the momentous occasion, a bicentennial committee was established by Congress. One of the important acts performed by this body is that it advocated for Washington to be featured on a coin. So, they rallied around getting his profile on the half dollar. Their mission was to replace that year’s Walking Liberty half dollar with a Washington coin. The next year the coin would go back to the original Walking Liberty. Instead, Washington was honored with his own permanent spot on a coin when the US Congress replaced the Standing Liberty quarter. Congress’ requirement was that Washington’s profile be on the obverse of the new coin.
When it came time to design the coin, the original bicentennial committee wanted to employ Laura Gardin Fraser, an American sculptor. Fraser had designed a commemorative medal with Washington’s likeness. Fraser was liked by the Commission of Fine Arts and its chairman, Charles W. Moore, but another artist was chosen for the Washington quarter. The then-US Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon chose a design by artist and sculptor John Flanagan, bumping Fraser from the project. The secretary who replaced Mellon, Ogden L. Mills, would not go against the wishes of his predecessor and kept Fraser off the project.
In August of 1932, a series of silver quarters was released. They were struck until 1965 when the US Mint moved on to coinage clad in copper-nickel. To celebrate the United States Bicentennial in 1975 and 1976, a special coin was released. Any coin made during this year was printed with a double date, 1776–1976. This date represents the year the US gained its independence and the year of the printing of the quarter. No quarters were dated with 1975 – only 1976.
Beginning in 1999, the coin’s original reverse, depicting an eagle, was not used and has not been used since. Since then the coins have been printed with tributes to the 50 states and other National jurisdictions, like Guam. These coins are enjoyed for their collectability and the beauty of each unique sculpture. Each state has its own quarter. Quarters that were part of the America the Beautiful series feature historic or natural sites that are important to the United States. The last printing of those coins was in 2021.
Also in 1999, Washington’s bust was made smaller. Then, in 2010 the original bust was put back on the coin. The bust is still considered small but its detail is better than on the original design. In 2021, the design by Flanagan was used for the obverse, on the back is an image of Washington crossing the Delaware River in 1776, the year of American independence. In 2022 the US Mint unleashed a new series commemorating important women.
The Washington quarter has had a few different designs and different compositions over the years, as well as the introduction of commemorative coins. The eagle-back coin ran until 1998. The design featured the head of our first president George Washington as he faces left as the words “Liberty” is above his head and the date of striking sits below. Also, the words “In God We Trust” exist in the left field. On the original reverse is an eagle with wings. The eagle sits on a perch of arrows and is framed by two olive branches. Then in 1999 the back of the coin changed and commemorative backs have been used since then.
The original coin was composed of 6.25 grams of 90% silver. Then, in 1964 the US Mint decided to switch to a base-metal composition. Thus, cupronickel, a metal composed of (75% copper and 25% nickel, was used. Inside the coin is a pure copper core. There are non-circulation versions of the coin that contain silver, which can still be purchased. They’ve been around since 1976 and are highly popular with collectors.
Yes. There have been several iterations of the Washington quarter, including an all-silver version of the coin. Also, the commemorative versions of the coin can be bought uncirculated and are popular with collectors. But, knowing about the coin is important. Not every coin is valuable. This, and other reasons, are why it’s essential to work with a dealer that knows about the coins. In order to get the best results, a reputable dealer is necessary.
Washington quarters are still in circulation to this day, but yes, older versions of the coin and commemorative versions of the coin are popular with collectors. As always, working with a trusted dealer is your best bet. You can find dealers online, in community posts and locally, through word of mouth, advertisements, etc.
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