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HomeUS Coins1935-D Washington Quarter : A Collector's Guide

1935-D Washington Quarter : A Collector’s Guide

1935-D Washington Quarter. Image: Stack's Bowers / Adobe Stock.
1935-D Washington Quarter. Image: Stack’s Bowers / Adobe Stock.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
To honor the 200th anniversary of President and General George Washington’s birthday, Congress passed a joint resolution in 1924 that was signed by then-President Calvin Coolidge. The resolution was to ensure the country hosted adequate celebrations in 1932, the deceased president’s bicentennial year. One of the sponsored actions was to replace the Standing Liberty series quarter.

While the Washington quarter was originally meant to be a commemorative half dollar, the Great Depression forced the commission to shelve the idea. Since the Standing Liberty quarter was difficult to strike and the dies wore out too quickly, necessitating a higher level of effort by Mint officials, there was little official Mint pushback when Representative Randolph Perkins (R-NJ7) introduced a bill to change the Washington commemorative denomination. This decision, however, came after the Bicentennial Commission had already held a design competition and selected one by the well-known coin designer Laura Gardin Fraser.

But instead of adapting Fraser’s medallic submission for the half-dollar commemorative, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon decided to hold a second design competition. American sculptor John Flanagan’s design began as an entry in this second 1931 competition. In a controversial move, Secretary Mellon overruled the Commission’s selection of Fraser’s design for a second time and instead chose Flanagan’s design. This decision caused a minor scandal and has continued to reverberate through numismatics until the Mint began to produce quarter dollars (the American Women Quarters series) using Fraser’s design in 2022.

Perhaps to placate members of the Bicentennial Commission, Mellon agreed to allow the designers additional time to adjust and possibly improve their designs. In the end, this did not change anything, and Ogden L. Mills, Mellon’s successor as Treasury Secretary, did not overrule the decision and stuck with Flanagan.

The 1932-D Washington Quarter Features an Improved Design

Production of the Washington quarter began in 1932, with 6,248,800 coins being struck–a mintage that far outstripped demand thanks to the Great Depression. As a result, no coins were struck in 1933. In 1935, the third year of issue, the United States Mint ordered an increase in production over the previous year. The Philadelphia Mint struck 35,484,000 coins; the San Francisco Mint struck 5,660,000; and the Denver Mint struck 5,780,000 for a grand total of 46,924,000 coins – as opposed to the previous years’ total of 35,439,252 coins.

In these early years of production, the Mint adjusted the obverse design slightly. Since Flanagan engraved the obverse motto IN GOD WE TRUST “too softly” on his models, the hubs needed to be adjusted if the lettering were not to wear off the dies too quickly. Experimenting with the font weight of the motto, the Mint eventually settled on the heavy style seen on Washington quarters struck in 1936 and later. However, when striking the 1935-D, mint workers employed dies cut from the second transitional type of 1935 hub. While the lettering on these coins was still slim, the motto was, however, “much sharper.”

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

When this article was written, the spot price of silver was $25.08 (USD) per ounce, which means that the 1935-D quarter currently has a melt value of $4.53. This bullion value is less than the numismatic value of even the coin’s lowest grades. The Greysheet estimates an average price of $5 in AG (About Good), which rises to $20-25 in VF (Very Fine). Prices for the 1935-D jump to $150-200 in the various AU grades (About Uncirculated) and $200 to $300 in the low MS grades (Mint State). High MS-graded pieces regularly go for $500 to $3,000, with examples of the highest recorded grade (MS67+ in PCGS Coin Facts) selling for $7,050 in September 2014.

Top PopulationPCGS MS67+ (12, 4/2024), NGC MS67+ (9, 4/2024), and CAC MS67 (10:2 stickered:graded, 4/2024).

  • PCGS MS67+ #43293083: GreatCollections, February 13, 2022, Lot 941108 – View; Stack’s Bowers, August 25, 2022, Lot 4204 – $3,120. Lightly toned obverse in green, gold, and orange.
  • PCGS MS67+ #39378479: GreatCollections, July 26, 2020, Lot 832896 – View; Heritage Auctions, May 4, 2022, Lot 3468 – $3,240. Gold, green, and orange obverse toning.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #41880622: Heritage Auctions, June 18, 2021, Lot 3454 – $4,560; Heritage Auctions, December 16, 2021, Lot 3072 – $4,080. Mostly brilliant with orange and red rim toning on the obverse from 6 o’clock to 9 o’clock.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #84299027: “The Washington Rainbows Collection, the #1 PCGS Registry Set of Silver Washington Quarters, 1932-1964,” Stack’s Bowers, March 25, 2021, Lot 2280 – $4,800. Scattered rust and orange toning at the bottom of the obverse.
  • PCGS MS67+ #29967667: As PCGS MS67 #50070545. Heritage Auctions, November 8, 2003, Lot 6385 – $9,775. As PCGS MS67+ #29967667. Heritage Auctions, September 4, 2014, Lot 3151 – $7,050. Mottled gold, green, and magenta toning on both sides.

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Design

Obverse:

Designed by John Flanagan, the obverse of the 1935-D Washington quarter is based on a bust of the general created by the neoclassical French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1785. However, Flanagan’s design differs from the original bust in several ways, such as a slightly different head shape and several curls of hair that are not on the bust; for comparison, the bust can be viewed at the late president’s estate, Mount Vernon. Under the left-facing bust’s chin is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, the 1935-D using the transitional medium weight motto. The legend LIBERTY runs along the top of the coin’s field, and the date 1935 is below. In small letters, Flanagan’s initials “JF” can be found above the “5” in 1935 at the base of the bust.

Reverse:

Unlike the obverse, there were no restrictions placed on the candidate sculptors when designing the Washington Quarter reverse. Flanagan’s reverse is dominated by a heraldic eagle with outstretched wings and a left-facing head. The eagle is perched on a neat bundle of arrows with two intertwined olive branches below, and the D mint mark centered between the two olive branch stems. Above the eagle can be read the two main inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM. Finally, at six o’clock on the design is the denomination written out as QUARTER DOLLAR.

Edge:

The edge of the 1935-D Washington Quarter is reeded.

Designer

Born in New Jersey in 1865, John Flanagan lived in New York for most of his life. He began working with Augustus Saint-Gaudens in 1884 at the age of 20 and quickly became a well-known sculptor and medallic artist in his own right. Saint-Gaudens made introductions for Flanagan at the United States Mint. While the Washington quarter was his sole numismatic design, Flanagan designed numerous famous medals and sculptures, including the official medal of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, the official Verdun medal gifted to France by the U.S. Government, and the 1924 bust of Saint-Gaudens. Flanagan was also a member of the American Numismatic Society (ANS).

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1935
Denomination: Quarter Dollar (25 Cents USD)
Mint Mark: D (Denver)
Mintage: 5,780,000
Alloy: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 6.25 g
Diameter: 24.30 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: John Flanagan
REV Designer: John Flanagan
Quality: Business Strike

 

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CoinWeek IQ
CoinWeek IQ
With CoinWeek IQ, the editors and writers of CoinWeek dig deeper than the usual numismatic article. CoinWeek IQ provides collectors and numismatists with in-depth information, pedigree histories, and market analysis of U.S. coins and currency.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Why are we keep referring to Walter Breen’s work. He had so many inaccuracies and was a pedophile. We don’t hear Gary Glitter’s hey song anymore, why do we still have to hear about Walter Breen.

  2. This is been a very learning Experience.
    The reason why I have been looking on your website it’s because because my mother passed test way and she had been saving old coin. So far we haven’t found too many of them that are good or that are worth anything Thank you very much for letting us read this Articles that you have posted.

  3. My parents have passed away and they were married May 3, 1935. I loved and respected them very much. My father passed away from a stroke 50 years ago this year and my mother passed away 7 years ago. It would serve as a reminder of my life with them.

  4. Thank you for the article!! It was and eye opener since 2014! I was given a few coins by my brother in law. ,their I saw a 1935 silver quarter ,which I kept in my collection. And glad to know that it’s a piece of History!

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