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HomeUS Coins1965 Washington Quarter : A Collector's Guide

1965 Washington Quarter : A Collector’s Guide

The finest known 1965 Washington Quarter. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
The finest known 1965 Washington Quarter. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
On July 23, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Coinage Act of 1965 into law, essentially ending silver’s 170-year run as the coin of the realm. Of course, the half dollar retained some of its silver content, being debased from 90% to 40%, but under the new law, the dime and the quarter would be struck in a copper-nickel sandwich metal.

The new metal was harder and slicker, and the quality of the impressions from the dies suffered. The new quarters were also lighter, weighing 5.67 grams instead of the silver standard of 6.25 grams.

The transition from silver to clad coinage took three years. During this time, the United States Mint produced both silver and clad coins. The silver coins were dated 1964, while the clad coins were dated 1965. During the first three years of clad coin production, the Mint did not apply mint marks to the clad coins, so even though the coin is without a mint mark (typical of Philadelphia quarters struck through 1979), it is not possible to discern which facility struck it.

This was purposeful, as Mint leadership believed that the insatiable demand of speculators and coin collectors had caused a nationwide coin shortage. This shortage had the Mint operating round-the-clock, unable to keep up with demand. In reality, it was modern conveniences like vending machines and pay telephones that were “hoarding” coins at record numbers.

With the date freeze and the unprecedented mintage of the 1965 coins, the collector/investor market for coin rolls collapsed. Another Mint decision would also contribute to the collector story of the 1965 Washington quarter. From 1947 to 1964, the United States Mint offered collectors the opportunity to purchase uncirculated and Proof versions of each year’s coin in the form of Mint and Proof Sets. Starting in 1965 and continuing through ’67, the Mint did not produce these popular products and issued Special Mint Sets instead. These sets were hybrid issues – not quite Proofs and not quite business strike coins, but something in between. Without having a million-plus Mint Sets for the 1965 issues available, the only source for uncirculated coins from this date would have been from bags or rolls held back at the time of the coin’s release. Because of this, the 1965 Washington quarter is similar to the 1983-P Washington quarter.

The 1965 Washington Quarter Is Important, but Is It Valuable?

The 1965 Washington quarter does not circulate with the same frequency as it once did. Through the mid-to-late 1980s, the 1965 quarter was ubiquitous and its 1,819,717,540 mintage will never be surpassed. However, nearly 60 years have passed since its release, and any examples of the date that still circulate will likely be found in grades VF and below. These coins may have a slight value over face value if sold on eBay, but we doubt they would sell consistently for any price over $1. The coins that have real value are found in Gem Mint State (MS65 or better).

The real problem with finding uncirculated examples of this issue is that so many Special Mint Set coins proliferate the market. Without expertise, a seller and buyer may not be able to identify a 1965 business strike coin accurately. Additionally, most certified coins to date are Special Mint Set coins because SMS coins are typically nicer and are more available for bulk submissions. Recent eBay auctions for the business strike 1965 Washington Quarter in MS66 show prices of about $12-$15 per coin. The value increases in MS67 to about $100 or more.

Above these grades, auction values escalate. Buyer beware! Conditional Rarities are highly volatile and as populations increase, values come down – and often collapse. Our table below shows a number of top pop and near top of the pop coin auctions from 2019 to the present. Note the price history.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top PopulationPCGS MS68 (1, 4/2024), NGC MS68+ (1, 4/2024), and CAC MS65 (0:1 stickered:graded, 4/2024).

  • NGC MS68+ #6208880-003: GreatCollections, January 30, 2022, Lot 1099562 – View; GreatCollections, August 7, 2022, Lot 1203023 – View; GreatCollections, November 5, 2023, Lot 1465764 – View.
  • NGC MS68 #3560546-001: GreatCollections, May 16, 2021, Lot 981088 – View; GreatCollections, August 27, 2023, Lot 1000453 – View.
  • NGC MS68 #6073514-002: GreatCollections, August 13, 2023, Lot 1396874 – View.
  • PCGS MS68 QA #47455065: Heritage Auctions, July 20, 2023, Lot 3054 – $11,400.
  • NGC MS68 #5709161-004: GreatCollections, December 6, 2020, Lot 913620 – View.
  • NGC MS68 #3735288-003: Heritage Auctions, October 18, 2019, Lot 3623 – $1,920; GreatCollections, August 28, 2022, Lot 946124 – View; GreatCollections, July 30, 2023, Lot 1406414 – $1,043.74. Brilliant. Long die crack on the reverse, from 12 o’clock through S O to the top right of the eagle’s wing.
  • PCGS MS67+ #46556520: Heritage Auctions, April 3, 2023, Lot 50089 – $576. Rainbow toning along the obverse and reverse periphery.
  • PCGS MS67+ #40520762: Heritage Auctions, January 26, 2021, Lot 27385 – $720. Peacock toning on both sides.
  • PCGS MS67+ #25677825: “The jwb1040 Collection”, Heritage Auctions, February 22, 2018, Lot 3663 – $840; GreatCollections, July 5, 2020, Lot 852951 – View.
  • PCGS MS67+ #84332622: As PCGS MS67 #25636033. Heritage Auctions, January 8, 2017, Lot 9509 – $352.50. As PCGS MS67+ #84332622. Heritage Auctions, September 7, 2017, Lot 3404 – $2,040. Upgraded one-half point; Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2018, Lot 4530 – $1,440. Attractive target toning in golden tan, yellow, and cerulean blue. Hit on the cheek. Deep hit in left field. Hit in hair. Square hit on bust truncation.
  • PCGS MS67+ #81947785: An NGC MS68 #5709161-004. Heritage Auctions, June 7, 2020, Lot 7167 – $1,320. As PCGS M67+ #81947785. Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2017, Lot 4801 – $2,585; “Charlie O’s Collection”, Heritage Auctions, June 9, 2019, Lot 7437 – $660. On the obverse, light scattered stains along the periphery at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock.

1965 Washington Quarter Struck on a Silver Planchet

While the Coinage Act of 1965 stipulated that all quarters would be struck in the new copper-nickel clad sandwich metal, a small number of .900 fine silver blanks were used to strike 1965-dated quarters. This probably inadvertent mistake created at least a dozen highly-coveted transitional errors.

  • ANACS MS60 #824656: Stack’s Bowers, November 4, 2016, Lot 4620 – $6,462.50.
  • PCGS AU58 #14114143: Stack’s Bowers, March 2011, Lot 638 – $9,200; Heritage Auctions, June 5, 2014, Lot 4504 – $14,687.50. Curved stain to the right of Washington’s head. Stain at 9 o’clock.
  • NGC AU55 #1626814-001: Heritage Auctions, September 6, 2018, Lot 3057 – $8,400. There is a large dark spot on Washington’s forehead. Horizontal scratches in the left field and the back of Washington’s neck.
  • NGC AU55 #1721999-001: Heritage Auctions, February 4, 2014, Lot 5132 – $8,812.50. Rim hit, leaving three marks in the left obverse field. Diagonal hit on bust truncation. Diagonal streaky toning on the obverse. 6.14 grams.
  • PCGS AU53 #31080427: As NGC AU50. American Numismatic Rarities, July 25, 2003, Lot 604 – Passed. As PCGS AU53 #31080427. “The Alfred V. Melson Collection”, Stack’s Bowers, November 2014, Lot 10276 – $7,050. Crossed to PCGS and upgraded. Alfred V. Melson Collection on insert.
  • PCGS AU50 #46444312: Stack’s Bowers, November 16, 2023, Lot 6709 – $7,200. 6.19 grams.
  • NCS AU Details #5024056-002: Stack’s Bowers, June 15, 2022, Lot 2290 – $5,040. Rim damage. 6.1 grams.
  • PCGS XF45 #21271897: Stack’s Bowers, August 19, 2021, Lot 6308 – $7,500.
  • ICG EF40: Stack’s vowers, August 2014, Lot 3377 – $4,500.

1965 Washington Quarter, FS-101. Doubled Die Obverse

1965 Washington Quarter. FS-101. Discovery Coin. Image: Heritage Auctions / Adobe Stock.
1965 Washington Quarter. FS-101. Discovery Coin. Image: Heritage Auctions / Adobe Stock.
  • PCGS AU58 #83560537: Heritage Auctions, March 14, 2018, Lot 23573 – $360.
  • NGC AU58 #307248-001: Heritage Auctions, February 16, 2007, Lot 3895 – $488.75; GreatCollections, January 2, 2022, Lot 1098074 – View.
  • PCGS AU55 #11274714: Heritage Auctions, January 8, 2012, Lot 11047 – $575. Discovery coin. Attributed by Tom DeLorey at Coin World.

1965 Washington Quarter, FS-102. Doubled Die Obverse

  • PCGS MS65 #30171813: Heritage Auctions, March 14, 2018, Lot 23574 – $720; Stack’s Bowers, May 29, 2019, Lot 5479 – $550 Reserve Not Met; GreatCollections, August 4, 2019, Lot 736071 – View.

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Design

Obverse:

Designed by John Flanagan, the obverse of the 1965 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 Virginia estate, Mount Vernon. Under the left-facing bust’s chin is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The legend LIBERTY runs along the top of the coin’s field, and the date 1965 is below. In small letters, Flanagan’s initials “JF” can be found above the “5” in 1965 at the base of the bust.

Reverse:

Unlike the obverse, no restrictions were 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. The two main inscriptions above the eagle are 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 1965 Washington quarter is reeded. As struck, the top and bottom edges will appear grey, while the center will appear copper colored.

Designer

John Flanagan was born in New Jersey in 1865 and 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 United States 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: 1965
Denomination: Quarter Dollar (25 Cents USD)
Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia and Denver)
Mintage: 1,819,717,540
Alloy: Outer layers of copper-nickel (75% copper and 25% nickel) bonded to a pure copper inner core.
Weight: 5.67 g
Diameter: 24.30 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: John Flanagan
REV Designer: John Flanagan
Quality: Business Strike

 

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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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3 COMMENTS

  1. I have a 1970 D quarter it seems to have extra weight and I have pis of it. On front the chin is bulged and longer and on the back the eagle is also bulged and rounded out. Bulged on both sides. I haven’t seen one like this before and would appreciate if anyone could help me find out about it.

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