Washington Quarter

Posted by on November 20, 2011

Coin Weight (g) Composition Silver Melt Value Full Melt Value
Washington (1932, 1934-1964) 6.25 90% silver, 10% copper
Washington (1976-S) 5.75 40% silver, 60% copper
238px Washington Quarter Silver 1944S Obverse Washington Quarter

Washington Quarter Silver 1944S Obverse

The Washington Quarter was created to celebrate the Bicentennial of the United States' first President, George Washington. His head was portrayed on the United States' silver quarter dollar coin in 1932 and has been on the quarter ever since. This was not the original intent, nor was sculptor John Flanagan’s design (which is still in use) the most supported.

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ebay silver logo Washington QuarterAuctions Close to Melt Values

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The first Congressional stab at pulling off a memorable bicentennial of George Washington’s birth was the United States George Washington Bicentennial Commission in December of 1924.  It included the President at the time, Calvin Coolidge, and even Henry Ford worked on the commission.  By 1929 the commission became inactive having cooled down from the initial blitz of press releases, but when the Secretary of Commerce, Hebert Hoover succeeded Coolidge as President of the United States, in February of 1930 Congress formed the George Washington Bicentennial Committee.

On April 21, 1930 Hoover vetoed a bill for a commemorative coin for the Bicentennial of George Washington’s birth.  Hoover had also included a very lengthy note to his veto stating that commemorative coins were not selling very well pointing out there were a large quantity of Oregon Trail Memorial half dollars unsold.

In response, it was put forth by the Bicentennial Committee that the Walking Liberty silver half dollar coin could be replaced during 1932 with a silver half dollar coin depicting George Washington.  However there were no plans of issuing any silver half dollars in 1932.  The United States Mint had noted difficulties with getting good strikes from the Standing Liberty silver quarter dollar coin.  So it was decided that Washington would appear on the quarter, and further that the Washington design would continue as a standard series.

240px Washington Quarter Silver 1944S Reverse Washington Quarter

Washington Quarter Silver 1944S Reverse

A contest was held for a medal to be made as well as the silver Washington quarter coin based on the famous bust of George Washington done by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1785.  The Bicentennial Committee and Fine Arts Commission agreed on Laura Gardin Fraser’s designs.  She was the wife of James Earle Fraser who designed the United States Buffalo nickel.  She had designed many medal and commemorative coin designs at the time, including the Oregon Trail Memorial pieces.

However the Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew W. Mellon, who was also a well known art collector and connoisseur, was left out of this decision.

Mellon decided on John Flanagan’s design.  Over great objections and much lobbying for Laura Gardin Fraser’s design Mellon’s decision prevailed.  Even after he left office on February 12, 1932 he had impressed upon Ogden L. Mills his successor his reasoning for choosing Flanagan’s design.  Mills agreed and against many voices of that time against Flanagan’s George Washington we have Flanagan’s George Washington quarter dollar.

The George Washington coin has gone through several variations over the nearly eighty years of its minting…

Variation 1) were minted in 1932 through 1964 at the Mints in Philadelphia (with no mint mark), Denver (mint marked ‘D’), and San Francisco (mint marked ‘S’).  The San Francisco Mint was closed temporarily from 1956 and did not open for minting again until 1968.  These silver George Washington quarter dollar coins are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper, weighing 6.25 grams and are 24.3mm in diameter with a reeded edge.

On the Obverse George Washington faces left with the date underneath and “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the left below his chin and “LIBERTY” encircling above his head.  The reverse has a bald eagle with wings spread and bundled arrows in its talons.  Two olive branches arch up under the arrows.  If there is a mint mark it is under the center of the olive branches.  “QUARTER DOLLAR” encircles the bottom of the coin and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” encircles the top, “E PLURBIUS” then “UNUM” are directly under and above the eagle’s head.

For the 1965 minting the silver content was changed to nickel/copper clad over a copper core.  The Untied States mint has issued a variety of more recent George Washington quarters struck in 90% silver 10% copper for collectors to buy in Mint State or Proof Mint State.

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2 comments on “Washington Quarter

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