Washington Quarters (1932-1998)
Introduced on the bicentennial of Washington's birth
The long-running Washington quarter debuted in 1932 on the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth. It was the second circulating U.S. coin to depict a former president (after the Lincoln cent introduced in 1909). Designed by sculptor John Flanagan, the quarter features the profile of George Washington based on a famous bust created by sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon during the 1780s. The reverse depicts an eagle with wings spread and grasping a bundle of arrows. Olive branches are seen below.
90% silver from 1932-1964 and copper-nickel clad from 1965-1998
Washington quarters were struck in 90% fine silver from their debut year of 1932 until 1964 when rising silver prices brought an end to 90% silver circulating coinage. The coins were clad with an outer layer of copper-nickel bonded to an inner core of pure copper beginning in 1965. Premium-quality Proof coins were minted in 90% silver until 1964 and in the copper-nickel clad composition from 1965-1998. From 1992-1998, Proof quarters were also struck in 90% silver.
Key dates and Bicentennial issues
The scarcest issues in the series are the first-year-of-issue 1932-S and 1932-D quarters with mintages of just 408,000 and 436,800 respectively. The next scarcest issue is the 1936-D quarter from a Great Depression year when few coins were saved. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, all quarters minted during 1975 and 1976 feature 1776-1976 bicentennial dating on the obverse and a special reverse depicting a colonial military drummer and a victory torch encircled with 13 stars.
The obverse design endures today
While the obverse of quarters continues to bear a profile portrait of George Washington, the traditional eagle reverse was last used in 1998. Since then, quarters have featured commemorative reverse designs honoring the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the 5 U.S. territories, and a national park or historical site in each jurisdiction (see Statehood quarters, D.C. & Territory quarters and National Park quarters).
"Workhorses" of American commerce
Washington quarters have been the most widely used U.S. coins for decades, as the buying power of 1¢, 5¢ and 10¢ coins is negligible, and our 50¢ and $1 coins are no longer issued for circulation. So our quarters, or 25¢ coins, have been the standard for coin-operated devices and fractional change from cash purchases. America's quarters are likely to be minted for as long as coinage plays a part in commerce.Read More... Read Less...