HomeUS Coins1951 Washington Quarter Proof : A Collector's Guide

1951 Washington Quarter Proof : A Collector’s Guide

1951 Washington Quarter Proof. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1951 Washington Quarter Proof. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

The 1951 Washington Quarter Proof was sold as part of the 1951 Proof Set. The 1951 Proof Set included three 1951-dated Proof silver coins–the Franklin Half Dollar, the Washington Quarter, and the Roosevelt Dime–and the 1951-dated Jefferson Nickel and Lincoln Wheat Cent Proofs.

Demand for the 1951 Proof Set increased by slightly more than 6,000 sets from 1950 to 1951. In total, the United States Mint distributed 57,500 sets at a sale price of $2.10 ($25.92 in 2024 inflation-adjusted dollars). Today, run-of-the-mill sets routinely sell for $450 and up. These sets will typically be a mixture of pieced-together sets (where premium coins have been removed and replaced with mediocre ones) or original sets that lack the quality for professionals and serious collectors to bother with them.

Sets in Original Government Packaging–a claim for which the default position should be skepticism–will command much higher prices. Given the brittle nature of the packaging materials after 70+ years of storage, the odds of finding pristine coins in these unopened sets are low but mathematically possible.

As for the coins in the set, the 1951 Franklin Half Dollar is the most coveted, and the 1951 Lincoln Wheat Cent Proof is the most difficult to acquire in high grade. The 1951 Washington Quarter Proof has its fans, but it is not a headliner compared to the half. For budget-minded collectors, this is not a bad thing, as the coin remains affordable, even in Gem grades at under $60.

1951 Washington Quarter Proof Contrast Chart.
Data current as of May 20, 2024. Image: CoinWeek.

As for instances of Cameo or Deep Cameo contrast, the 1951 Washington Quarter Proof was struck with the overwhelming majority of the coins having a fully or moderately brilliant finish. This was also true for the 1950 Washington Quarter Proof. Instances of Cameo contrast were possible only for the first few hundred coins of freshly paired properly-prepared obverse and reverse dies. The NGC and PCGS census data yields a Cameo rate of just under 10% of the mintage, while the instances of Deep Cameo (or Ultra Cameo in the case of NGC) number just 11 pieces from each grading service. CAC has not graded a sufficient number of coins of this issue to offer any meaningful insights.

Examples of Deep Cameo in the top grades have not appeared at major auctions but have likely traded privately. PR66DCAM coins have sold at Stack’s Bowers and Heritage Auctions for over $3,000 within the past year. The value of PR68CAM examples has declined from the levels reported nearly 20 years ago, but they seem like relatively good buys at $2,350, today’s market level.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS PR68DCAM (1, 5/2024), NGC PF68UC (2, 5/2024), and CAC PR67 (0:1 stickered:graded, 5/2024).

  • PCGS PR66DCAM #49030084: GreatCollections, March 17, 2024, Lot 1543935 – View.
  • PCGS PR66DCAM #5474655: Stack’s Bowers, June 14, 2023, Lot 3118 – $3,360.
  • PCGS PR68CAM #34490022: Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2018, Lot 4540 – $2,640.
  • PCGS PR68CAM #06722053: Heritage Auctions, August 12, 2010, Lot 4134 – $2,817.50; “The Michael C. Hollen Collection,” Heritage Auctions, July 7, 2017, Lot 3722 – $2,350. Lightly toned.
  • NGC PF68*CAM #3658849-001: Heritage Auctions, August 8, 2013, Lot 3865 – $7,050; Heritage Auctions, February 16, 2017, Lot 3594 – $2,350.
  • PCGS PR68CAM #25377065: Heritage Auctions, November 1, 2013, Lot 3485 – $3,525.
  • PCGS PR68CAM #21062288: ‘The V.A. Everest Collection,” Heritage Auctions, July 26, 2003, Lot 7283 – $2,990; “The Elite Cameo Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 25, 2013, Lot 2681 – $3,583.75.
  • PCGS PR68CAM #26779336: Heritage Auctions, February 8, 2013, Lot 4230 – $4,112.50.
  • NGC PF68CAM #604251-006: Heritage Auctions, October 18, 2012, Lot 3661 – $2,820.
  • PCGS PR68CAM #22040486: “The Daniel D. Biddle Collection, Part One,” Heritage Auctions, September 23, 2005, Lot 3067 – $5,175. Daniel D Biddle Collection on insert; Heritage Auctions, September 18, 2008, Lot 920 – $4,600; “The Kallenberg Collection,” Heritage Auctions, July 9, 2010, Lot 3933 – $3,150.
  • NGC PF68CAM #2131227-007: “The Manna Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 27, 2006, Lot 1796 – $2,300.
  • NGC PF68CAM #1742457-001: Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2006, Lot 2593 – $2,185.
  • PCGS PR68CAM #21882922: Heritage Auctions, July 28, 2005, Lot 6227 – $6,325.

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Design

Obverse:

John Flanagan’s obverse design features a left-facing portrait of George Washington based on the Jean-Antoine Houdon bust of 1786. LIBERTY wraps around the top of the coin, above Washington’s hair. The date 1951 wraps around the bottom, below Washington’s bust truncation. To the left of Washington is the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST.

Reverse:

A heraldic eagle rendered in Art Deco style is perched atop a sheaf of arrows. The arrows and the eagle’s head are facing left. Two sprays of olive branches form a “U” shape around the bottom of the eagle. Wrapping around the top of the coin is the legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Below that, the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. Around the bottom of the coin is the denomination QUARTER DOLLAR.

Edge:

The edge of the 1951 Washington Quarter Proof–like all Washington Quarters–is reeded.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1951
Denomination: Quarter Dollar (25 Cents USD)
Mintmark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 51,386
Alloy: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 6.25 g
Diameter: 24.30 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: John Flanagan
REV Designer: John Flanagan
Quality: Proof

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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