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HomeUS Coins1983-P Washington Quarter : A Collector’s Guide

1983-P Washington Quarter : A Collector’s Guide

1983-P Washington Quarter. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
1983-P Washington Quarter. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.

Whereas the year 1982 surprised coin collectors (and the general public) with the end of the Susan B. Anthony dollar, transitioning from copper to copper-plated zinc cents, and launching the modern commemorative coin series, 1983 marked business as usual for the United States Mint’s circulating coin program.

For the 1983 Washington quarter, the Mint struck 673,535,000 at Philadelphia and 617,806,446 at Denver. These coins bear John Flanagan’s 1932 design, but even full strikes show a breakdown in clarity as the hubs were reaching the ends of their service lives. The typical example shows weakness in the lettering, especially the IN of IN GOD WE TRUST. Luster isn’t typically strong on these issues, and, as is normal for clad coins, a thin haze of yellow toning is likely to develop over time. Attractively toned clad coins are rare and worthy of pursuit by the specialist collector.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

In the first edition of 100 Greatest U.S. Modern Coins, authors Scott Schecter and Jeff Garrett selected the 1983-P Washington quarter as the 29th Greatest U.S. modern coin. The coin’s greatness is owed to the fact that this and several other circulation-strike coins from the 1982-83 period were not saved in large quantities and were not made easily available to future generations of collectors in Mint Sets. This quarter was struck for circulation, placed into circulation in 1983, and circulated widely without notice of its potential future value. Those with foresight about the situation created private mint sets and marketed them to collectors. Even the Mint included them in a limited number of Souvenir Sets sold at visitors’ centers.

The idea that the 1983-P Washington quarter would be special took root within a decade of the coin’s release. Before third-party grading services focused much attention on modern coins, the 1983-P quarter was listed in the Guide Book as being worth slightly more than clad quarters through 1981 and those that were struck from 1984 onward. In a typical year, the Mint would produce upwards of two million annual sets; these sets, in effect, ensure that sufficient uncirculated coins for each date and mint survived to satisfy demand. Without the sets, all uncirculated quarters from 1983 would have had to have been saved at the time of release. Coins did get saved, but it’s unlikely that the number of coins saved exceeds 100,000, much less than one or two million.

Forty years after its release, the 1983-P Washington quarter is not frequently encountered in circulation despite its mintage of over 670 million pieces. Instead, the more likely place to encounter examples is large accumulations of coins saved from change, especially if these change jars were started in the 1990s. Even in raw circulated grades, buyers are willing to pay $3 to $5 per coin, although one might need to list their coin on sites like eBay to see such results.

Most coin collectors interested in the future profit potential of the 1983-P Washington quarter seek out certified coins in Mint State. To date, PCGS and NGC both report modest populations of quarters in the grades MS64 and MS65. At a minimum, a Gem MS66 should be the goal of any collector willing to pay the extra fee to have a coin certified. At this grade level, coins retail for $50 to $60.

Buyers should always exercise caution when purchasing conditionally rare coins with low certified populations, and the 1983-P Washington quarter, despite its inherent interest, is no exception. Case in point, auction prices for Superb Gem 1983-Ps have declined considerably since 2016, when the pop stood at nine coins, none finer. As of late March 2024, the MS67 population has increased to 24, with three finer.

Top Population: PCGS MS67+ (3, 3/2024), NGC MS67+ (13, 3/2024), and CAC None Graded (0:0 stickered:graded, 3/2024).

  • PCGS MS67+ #47423852: GreatCollections, August 27, 2023, Lot 1422365 – View.
  • NGC MS67+ #6103771-007: GreatCollections, March 12, 2023, Lot 1027482 – View.
  • PCGS MS67+ #45496296: GreatCollections, October 30, 2022, Lot 1156000 – View
  • NGC MS67 #6805127-048: eBay, December 20, 2023 – $599.99.
  • PCGS MS67 #2730567: Stack’s Bowers, April 12, 2023, Lot 91579 – $504. Struck from worn dies. Scratch across UM of UNUM.
  • NGC MS67 #1960641-005: “The Brian Loncar Collection, Part II,” Heritage Auctions, June 7, 2014, Lot 8137 – $1,410; “The Mile High Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 8, 2017, Lot 9512 – $1,762.50; Heritage Auctions, February 1, 2022, Lot 21312 – $456. Clad rose hue. Discoloration is present high on the cheek. Planchet scratches below the ribbon. On the reverse, there is a dark spot above the arrow tips.
  • NGC MS67 #6080936-017: Heritage Auctions, December 22, 2020, Lot 27322 – $360.
  • PCGS M67 #25605007: “Charlie O’s Collection,” Heritage Auctions, June 18, 2019, Lot 25543 – $276.
  • PCGS MS67 #25632568: GreatCollections, March 6, 2016, Lot 327520 – View; “The jwb1040 Collection,” Heritage Auctions, February 26, 2018, Lot 7856 – $552. Marks on Washington’s cheek and neck. Marks on eagle’s breast. Mark on the eagle’s right wing.
  • NGC MS67 #2132905-008: Heritage Auctions, February 19, 2017, Lot 7529 – $998.75. Hit on I of IN. Marks on both of the eagle’s legs.

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1983-P Washington Quarter Design

Obverse:

Designed by American sculptor John Flanagan, the obverse of the 1983-P Washington quarter is based on a bust of the Founding Father George Washington created by the neoclassical French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon in 1785. 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, Houdon’s bust can be viewed at the late president’s Virginia estate, Mount Vernon. Under the left-facing effigy’s chin is the national motto IN GOD WE TRUST. The legend LIBERTY runs along the top of the coin’s field, and the date 1997 is below. In small letters, Flanagan’s initials “JF” can be found above the “7” in 1997 at the base of the bust, and the “P” mint mark is to the right of Washington’s hair tie.

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 can be read: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and E PLURIBUS UNUM. Finally, at six o’clock on the design, the denomination is written out as QUARTER DOLLAR.

Edge:

The edge of the 1983-P Washington quarter is reeded.

Coin Specifications

Country: United States of America
Year Of Issue: 1983
Denomination: Quarter Dollar (USD)
Mint Mark: P (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 673,535,000
Alloy: .750 copper, .250 nickel outer layer, bonded to 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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