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HomeUS Coins1976-D Bicentennial Quarter : A Collector's Guide

1976-D Bicentennial Quarter : A Collector’s Guide

1976-D Washington Quarter.
The finest known 1976-D Washington Bicentennial Quarter. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

The 1976-D Bicentennial quarter is still doing its job, nearly a half-century after its issue in 1975 and 1976. Introduced alongside redesigned half dollars and dollar coins to mark the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the quarters were struck in the largest quantities of the three. A slightly larger mintage and a couple of notable varieties distinguish the Denver Mint issues from their Philadelphia counterparts. Both were struck in large enough quantities that consumers still encounter the coins in circulation.

Collectors Lobbied Hard for Bicentennial Coins

In the early 1970s, the nation prepared to mark its bicentennial. The American Revolution Bicentennial Commission’s Coins and Medals Advisory Panel, formed in 1970, recommended new designs for all denominations and one commemorative coin, an approach opposed by the Treasury Department. Mint Director Mary Brooks articulated the Treasury’s opposition before the Commission.

According to her testimony, commemorative coins:

“do not serve as a medium of exchange, are not readily available and recognizable to the public, invade the production capacities of the Mint and… have been the subject of hoarding and profiteering. In short, commemorative coins tend to defeat the purpose of the coinage system.”

Collectors pushed for not only a full redesign of circulating coinage but multiple dedicated non-circulating commemorative coins, including a gold issue. In November 1972, Treasury officials agreed to add the date 1776 to 1976’s coinage but would not change the coinage in any way to commemorate the Bicentennial. Congress ultimately took a middle path.

According to a July 8, 1979, New York Times numismatic column by Ed Reiter, “It was only at the prodding of key hobby leaders, and interested members of Congress, that the quarter was also included.”

On October 18, 1973 – two days before the “Saturday Night Massacre” of the Watergate saga – President Richard M. Nixon signed a bill, S. 1141, that became Public Law 93-127, which authorized changes to the designs and inscriptions of the quarter, the half dollar, and the dollar. New designs “emblematic of the Bicentennial of the American Revolution” would be accompanied by a double date, 1776-1976, on the three largest denominations struck by the United States Mint in the mid-1970s. The law was amended on December 26, 1974 to allow for the minting of silver-clad Bicentennial coinage.

No 1975-dated quarters would be struck.

How Did the Washington Bicentennial Quarter Get Its Iconic Design?

The Treasury announced a design competition that began on October 23, 1973. A panel of five judges appointed by the National Sculpture Society judged a nationwide design competition, with winners receiving $5,000. The Treasury announced the new designs on March 7, 1974, with Mint Director Mary Brooks appearing on the Today show to spread the word.

Bicentennial Quarter Released to Great Fanfare

The first trial strikes were struck at the Philadelphia Mint on August 12, 1974, at 11:00 AM by Mary Brooks and the artists who created the three Bicentennial designs. Jack L. Ahr’s design for the quarter, which features a colonial drummer and what the U.S. Mint’s website describes as a “victory torch” surrounded by 13 five-pointed stars, was selected for the quarter.

954 million quarters were distributed between August 1975 and June 30, 1976, according to the 1976 Mint Director’s report – a 140% increase over the same previous period. “Mint officials attribute the demand for the coins to their commemorative value and their relatively limited numbers,” according to the 1976 Mint Director’s Report.

Production continued through the end of 1976.

The dual-dated quarters were released with a public ceremony in Chicago at 12:30 PM on August 18, 1975. Ahr, as well as the designers of the Bicentennial reverses of the dollar and the half dollar, were invited; Ahr lived in Arlington Heights, a Chicago suburb, at the time. Director Brooks shared her feelings about the quarter in the press release announcing the release: “The quarter, in particular, has a most romantic history. It gets me thinking of swashbuckling pirates, chests full of Spanish ‘pieces of eight’ and the colorful expression ‘two bits.’”

The cover of the 1977 United States Mint Annual Report
The 1977 United States Mint Annual Report contains important information about the production of 1976-D Bicentennial quarter.

1976’s bicentennial coinage was, at least according to the Mint, successful. A September 11, 1976, Mint press release pointed out that “citizens are acquiring circulating versions of the nation’s new Bicentennial coins at record rates”, citing the high U.S. public demand. The release also quoted Director Brooks; whatever her (and/or the Treasury’s) reservations about the commemorative coinage, she said “The popularity of the coins is a tribute to the nation… It confirms that Americans have great pride in their country and its heritage.”

A 1977 Mint press release pointed out that “During the past 3 years, the Mint’s major numismatic programs have almost doubled in number.” Brooks is again quoted, saying that the volume of numismatic products sold “represents numismatic history at the Mint.”

Not all reviews were so glowing. Ed Reiter’s July 8, 1979, New York Times story, which was titled “Bicentennial Hangover”, summarized the hobby’s reaction to the Bicentennial coin program, “a coinage saga that has gotten, at best, mixed reviews from the nation’s hobbyists.” According to Reiter’s article, the designs “were received with less than universal acclaim” and the Mint was having difficulty selling surplus Uncirculated sets, as well as silver-clad Uncirculated and Proof Sets.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Bicentennial quarters were struck for circulation at both the Philadelphia and Denver Mint facilities in such quantities that examples of both 1976 (P) and 1976-D can still be found fairly easily in circulation; most people do not bother to save them when they appear in change. The Denver Mint struck 860,118,839 1776-1976 quarters in 1975 and 1976.

Fully-struck 1976-D Washington quarters are not common; the issue often has weakness on the drum’s top rim and clasp. According to a CoinWeek article by Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, 1976 and 1976-D quarters are often “not fully struck,” especially on the drum – though most of the Bicentennial quarters are “attractive and well-made coins.” The article concludes by saying that “finding a blazingly nice coin that’s free of scratches and bag marks PLUS a full drum is a special coin, indeed.”

Q. David Bowers’ Guide Book of Washington Quarters does not have much to say about the 1976-D issue, though it notes that the issue is “Common in Mint State, although gems are in the minority.”

Top Population: PCGS MS-68 (12, 3/2024). NGC MS-68 (14, 3/2024). CAC MS-66 (0:1 stickered:graded, 3/2024).

At the time of writing (March 2024), PCGS records 2,792 grading events for 1976-D quarters. PCGS reports 56 FS-101 and 95 FS-102 varieties. NGC reports 1,416 grading events, 23 of which are FS-101 varieties, three of which is FS-102. Hundreds of examples are reported by both services grade MS-65, 66, or 67. PCGS reports 12 examples graded MS-68, and NGC reports 14. In January 2017, NGC had certified only a single example in that top grade.

PCGS had four examples certified MS-68 in late 2011 to early 2012, according to a January 2012 Heritage listing. The NGC population has crept up, progressing from five to 14 since 2017.

Lightly to heavily circulated examples can still be found in circulation with some searching, so there is really no premium for such coins. Certified examples in higher uncirculated grades command some premium, depending on numerical grade. Auction results from the last decade suggest that MS-66 examples generally sell for between $10 and $40; MS-67 examples between $30 and $100. The handful of quarters that earn an MS-68 grade sell for thousands; an example graded by PCGS sold in a Legend auction for $5,170 in January 2018. An NGC MS-68 examples sold in May 2022 for $1,740.

Major Bicentennial error coins are sought after by collectors. A 1976-D quarter obverse die cap error sold in an August 19 Stack’s Bowers sale for $2,880.

Circulating quarters commemorating the United States’ bicentennial are still doing their job, 46 years after their release. Ahr’s design and the unusual double date are curiosities to many consumers, who sometimes set them aside, occasionally disappointed to learn that they haven’t stumbled upon a priceless rarity (despite what sensationalist articles promoted on Google Discover suggest).

Outnumbering their Philadelphia siblings by a little more than 50 million, 1976-D Washington quarters are affordable in almost every grade, though experienced collectors might seek out elusive fully-struck examples and might have to pay a little more than usual for such examples, especially if the desired coin is graded MS-68. Variety hunters have a couple of major DDO varieties to consider, and the occasional major error does come up for auction.

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1976-D Quarter Varieties

Varieties of 1976-D Washington quarters were reported around the time of the coins’ release. A September 26, 1976, Chicago Tribune column reported on a variety with significant doubling visible on “LIBERTY”.

The Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United States Coins (“Cherrypickers’ Guide”) lists two major doubled die obverse (DDO) varieties of 1976-D Washington quarter, FS-25-1976D-101 (FS-101) and -102 (FS-102). Both Cherrypickers’ Guide varieties are attributed by PCGS and NGC. FS-101 varieties have doubling on LIBERTY, the motto, and the date, though the authors note that “[g]enerally, only early die state specimens will show doubling on the motto.” FS-102 varieties have “moderate doubling” only on “LIBERTY” and the authors think that “this variety may prove very rare.”

A 2019 Heritage Auctions listing described the FS-101 as “easily the most significant die variety of the Bicentennial type.”

Variety Vista also lists two DDO varieties (also with doubling on “LIBERTY”), as well as one repunched mint mark variety.

An image of the reverse of the 1976-D Bicentennial quarter.
Jack Ahr’s famous “Drummer Boy” reverse as found on the 1976-D Bicentennial quarter.



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 dual date “1976-1976” wraps around the bottom, below Washington’s bust truncation. To the left of Washington is the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST; to the right is the mint mark “D”.


Jack Ahr’s colonial drummer occupies most of the reverse, with a small “victory torch” surrounded by 13 five-pointed stars on the left. The legend UNITED STATES OF AMERICA wraps clockwise around the top half of the quarter, while cradled counterclockwise at the bottom is the denomination QUARTER DOLLAR. The motto E PLURIBUS UNUM is crammed between the torch and the drummer’s right arm.


The edge of the 1976-D Bicentennial Washington quarter, like all Washington quarters, is reeded.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1976
Denomination: Quarter Dollar (USD)
Mint Mark: D (Denver)
Mintage: 860,118,839
Alloy: Outer: 75% Copper, 25% Nickel; Inner: 100% Copper
Weight: 5.67 g
Diameter: 24.30 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: John Flanagan
REV Designer: Jack L. Ahr
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

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  1. I have one of a kind 1976 d quarter in beautiful shape color. What recommendations are there to find out if it’s one of the few double full drum coins that are in circulation.

  2. That is a great article about the Bicentennial quarter. Sadly as a family member collected every one she found over 30 years thinking they may have more value in the future, she cashed over 3k in quarters to invest elsewhere. I inherited a modest amount she retained with her coin collection. We enjoy going through them looking for oddities.

    • I’m pretty positive I have the same coin as your describing. The D is double stamped an the lettering in Liberty looks like it was double stamped also.

  3. I got a quarter but of bicentennial and on the back it is painted very beautiful how could I send you a picture so you could see it thank you

    • Don’t sell because no one will buy. They are worth a quarter only. Now if you have the silver variety (which I possess several) that’s different, they are worth selling

  4. I’ve been collecting them from change since I was a kid. I have probably about 60 dollars worth of them. Also have three graded Silver Proofs with the “S” marking from the San Fran mint.

  5. I have Bicentennial Washington Quarter with a D mint mark and one with no mark. A Dime with a head with wings on the ears. Other side a column wrapped with tree branch. A $1.00 Martin Van Buren coin. A statue of Liberty on the other side.

  6. Most of the 1976 quarters have only face value.Due to the high inflation rate the coin value is moot.Keeping only the die errors.

  7. Just had one in my hand not so long ago. In the quick-paced shuffle of life I don’t always scrutinize the coins that I get but I noted that Bicentennial Quarter. I may still have it. Seeing one always makes me nostalgic for 1976, that year of our Nation’s 200th Birthday.

  8. I have a bicentennial quarter that looks all copper color .I’m meant much can I get .and don’t tell me face value. K , I no it’s rear .

  9. I have one to 1776-1976 D mint Bicentennial Goerge Washington How much should sell it for,I hope I can get a fair price for it in the coin shop

  10. I have 8 of those and one gold painted quarters and many old coins and very old 2 dollar bills with red tags

  11. I have 7 no mint ones & 1 D that’s a blob then 3 half dollar ones & like 60 or so wheat pennies starting at age 1909 & up…

  12. I have 2 or 3 bicentennial quarters. A Susan b Anthony dollar very shiny…a shiny 1942 nickel. It’s in perfect condition just very silvery, and 2 gold dollars. Is it worth selling?

  13. I collected a lot of them in the past couple of years to make business to give different country for people less unfortunately as we are but also for the people here in are Nation we are supposed to give freely to be blessed cause God gave for us

  14. I have a coin that has a golden center & silver around the center what are the best websites for researching such coins


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