Washington Quarter Key Dates & Varieties
Washington quarters have been the workhorse of the American economy since they debuted in circulation back in 1932. They were initially designed by John Flanagan and modified by William Cousins in 1999 for the launch of the 50 State Quarters.
The Washington quarter remains one of the longest-running and most famous of all United States coin series. The series now spans ten decades, and over those years, most of the regular issues have proven quite common. Even the pre-1965 90% silver issues rarely seen in circulation are plentiful in coin collections. Still, several dates rank as quite scarce as key dates, semi-key dates, or significant conditional rarities.
Here’s a look at nine key-date Washington quarters and what they’re worth:
This date is one of two main regular-issue key dates for the Washington quarter series. The other date is its same-year San Francisco counterpart. Only 436,800 examples of the 1932-D were struck and boasts the second-lowest business-strike mintage of the series. This key date is one of the most popular coins of the 20th century and trades for about $125 and up in circulated grades.
One of two very scarce 1932 Washington quarters, the 1932-S is the lowest-mintage regular-issue date in the series. This date is a little more common in the Mint State grades than the higher-mintage 1932D. The 1932-S Washington quarter is, like its Denver-minted twin, a highly sought-after key issue. This date is one of the most widely collected rare coins of the past century. Examples trade for around $125 or more in worn grades.
1937 Doubled Die Obverse
This rare obverse doubled die exhibits heavy doubling that is most pronounced in the date. Even worn specimens are exceedingly challenging to find, and collectors pay considerable sums to obtain an example of this popular die variety. Prices start at around $500.
1942-D Doubled Die Obverse
The 1942-D is one of many doubled dies in the Washing quarter series. This date shows a prominent spread in the inscription “LIBERTY” above Washington’s head on the obverse. Prices for circulated examples start around $275.
1943 Doubled Die Obverse
Doubling can be found across the obverse on this rare doubled die. It exhibits hub doubling in the date, “LIBERTY,” and elsewhere. This particularly scarce variety trades for about $500 and up in the circulated grades.
1950-D D Over S
This date is one of two popular Washington quarter overmintmarks for the year. The 1950-D D Over S is beloved by collectors – especially series enthusiasts and die variety aficionados. Prices begin at about $100 and up for well-circulated examples.
1950-S S Over D
This overmintmark variety is the second listed here for the series bearing the 1950 date. The 1950-S Over D is a popular piece coveted by many Washington quarter specialists. Entry-level examples in the circulated grades trade for approximately $100.
This date is considered common in the absolute sense. However, uncirculated 1983-P Washington quarters are deceivingly scarce. But how can a coin with a mintage of 673,535,000 be considered uncommon? It certainly is a conditional rarity. For one, no mint sets were issued by the United States Mint in 1983 (or in the previous year, 1982). Also, a crippling recession meant few people were saving 1983 quarters in uncirculated condition in any quantity. An MS 63 1983-P Washington quarter easily fetches $20.
Like its 1983-P brethren, the 1983-D Washington quarter is a surprisingly scare coin in the uncirculated grades. Few were saved in good condition, and no government-issued United States uncirculated sets were offered at the time. An MS63 1983-D Washington quarter is worth many times its face value at about $7.
All other Washington quarters are scarce at or above a particular grade threshold, which in most cases, is about MS66 to MS67. In some cases, this is due to strike weakness. However, contact marks and other detractions can affect the grade. These blemishes bring uncirculated examples of these coins down into the MS63 to MS65 range.
All collectors should pay extra-close attention to their Washington quarters for die varieties. They should also keep an eye out for examples with especially strong strikes and blemish-free surfaces. Surely, super-nice Washington quarters of any date or mintmark are worth decent premiums.
Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a journalist, editor, and blogger who has won multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He has also authored numerous books, including works profiling the history of the United States Mint and United States coinage.
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