By: Henry Levac
Washington quarters are a main coinage and important part of our society and in the money world. They don’t only help us when we need that extra 25 cents when buying an ice cream cone, but the America the Beautiful, state quarters and old silver quarters are fun to collect!
In the year 1932, the U.S.A. was celebrating the bicentennial year of the birth of our first President, George Washington. The bicentennial committee, that was put together by Congress, hired a man by the name of John Flanagan to design a quarter commemorating the bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. Congress decided to permanently stop minting Standing Liberty Quarters, and replace the obverse with a bust of George Washington, and the reverse showing the Eagle, the symbol of the United States.
▲ 1932 Washington Quarter | Image source NGC® at ngccoin.com.
In August 1932, silver Washington quarters entered circulation, and were being circulated as 90% silver up until 1965, and then the quarters were changed to a copper-nickel clad. However, silver proofs are still made today. In 1975-1976, Flanagan’s reverse design was postponed to honor the bicentennial of America. The obverse still depicted Washington’s bust, but there is a double date (1776-1976). The reverse shows a boy drumming before a battle, and sometimes the quarters are referred to as “Drummer boy quarters.”
The year after the bicentennial of America, the regular obverse-reverse design was restored up until 1999. Since then, the bust of Washington has been minted smaller, and the reverse commemorated each of the 50 states by showing those state’s different historical sites in that state up until 2008. In 2009, quarter reverses showed the District of Colombia and American territories. There were only six different reverses – which is small compared to 50 – which were America Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam and District of Columbia.
Since 2010-2021, the U.S. Mint has produced America the Beautiful quarters, which display some National Parks and famous or cultural American destinations. In 2021, the America the Beautiful program ended, and the last two quarters were the Tuskegee Airmen and Washington crossing the Delaware, which is a classic design showing George Washington crossing the Delaware to fight in the battle of Trenton. (Quick note: for the Crossing the Delaware quarter, Washington’s bust is made larger for the obverse.)
▲ 1932 Washington Quarter | Image source U.S. Mint at usmint.gov.
This year, new quarters will be made, and the program will last until 2025. The series includes Maya Angelou, who was a famous writer, performer and social activist. Number two is Sally Ride, who was a famous astronaut and first woman in space, physicist and educator. Others include Wilma Mankiller, Adelina Otero-Warren and Anna May Wong. In 2026, there will be five quarters representing America’s semiquincentennial. From 2027 to 2030, quarters will depict youth sports.
Even after 2030, quarters are still expected to commemorate Washington. I would like to see a quarter honoring the many doctors who have helped save lives during the Pandemic. Another design I would like to see could be honoring the vaccine, Pfizer and Moderna, etc.
I believe that quarters aren’t just important to the money world, and they are not just a currency, but they are a way to show people about the country’s culture and historical events. By commemorating our country’s states, territories, historical sites and our country’s famous first President, quarters show the nation was makes America, America.