Coin Collecting - Washington Quarter

The Washington Quarter appeared in 1932, commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of George Washington's birth. It replaced the Standing Liberty quarter, which was minted until 1930 (no quarters of any kind were minted in 1931).

The Washington Quarter was designed by John Flannigan, whose initials (JF) appear on the obverse side along the lower edge of Washington's neck. The original reverse image of the coin was a bald eagle with spread wings, gripping a bundle of arrows in its talons, below which two olive branches are tied together. The eagle design was present on the reverse of the coin from 1932 through 1974, and again from 1977 through 1998. The date on these coins appears on the obverse side following the lower rim and the denomination ("Quarter Dollar") appears on the reverse in the same location.


In 1975, special Washington Quarters appeared to celebrate the nation's bicentennial. The date (still in the same location) was changed to read 1776-1976 (there are no US Quarters with the date 1975). The reverse image for these bicentennial coins depicts a colonial patriot drummer and a flame surrounded by thirteen stars (for the original thirteen colonies). The eagle design returned in 1977.


Beginning in 1999 and continuing through 2008, commemorative quarters were issued honoring each of the fifty states. Each State Quarter bore a unique design on its reverse side with images relevant to that state's character, history, and/or accomplishments. Five designs appeared each year during this time period, following the order in which those states joined the Union. The legend "United States of America" and denomination ("Quarter Dollar") were moved to the obverse side of the coin and the year was moved to the reverse. The name of the state also appears on the reverse. In 2009 the program was extended and quarters appeared with reverse designs honoring the territories of the United States (District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands).

Beginning in 2010, a new series of commemorative quarters was introduced featuring sites of the National Park Service. Fifty six such coin designs will be produced altogether, representing each of the fifty states as well as additional jurisdictions. The program is scheduled to conclude in 2021.

Mint Marks are D for Denver, S for San Francisco, and P for Philadelphia. Through 1964, the mint mark is on the reverse side, below the center of the wreath. All quarters minted from 1965 through 1967 lack a mint mark of any kind. After that, the mint mark appears on the obverse side, to the right of the bow in Washington's wig. It should be noted that the Philadelphia mint mark did not appear until 1980.


Initially Washington Quarters were composed of 90% silver and 10% copper. In 1965, however, silver coins were replaced with clad coins (with a pure copper core covered by an outer layer of copper-nickel).

Summary of Changes in the Washington Quarter

Original design: - Legend "Liberty" and date on obverse. Legend "United States of America" and denomination on reverse. Mint marks on reverse below wreath. Silver coins through 1964 and thereafter clad coinage.

1965 - Mint marks removed.

1968 - Mint marks reinstated and moved to obverse side.

1975/1976 - Bicentennial coins. Date changed to "1776-1976" and image on reverse changed.

1977 - Original reverse design (eagle) returns.

1980 - Philadelphia mint mark (P) begins to appear on coins.

1999 - State Quarter series begins. Unique state images appear on reverse. Legend "United States of America" and denomination moved to obverse, date moved to reverse.

2009 - U.S. Territories quarters. Unique territory images on reverse.

2010 - National Park Quarter series begins. Unique reverse images of parks in various states and jurisdictions.