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Modern US Coins – 1970 Washington Quarter Error Gets 15 Minutes of Fame


People have been checking their change recently for 1970 Washington quarters – What’s all the fuss about?

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez for CoinWeek …….
Las Vegas coin dealer Mike Byers recently listed a 1970-S Proof Washington quarter on eBay that was struck on a 1941 Canadian quarter. The Proof error quarter is being offered on eBay on a “Buy it Now” basis for US$35,000. As of June 9, 2016, nearly 2,900 people are watching the lot and potential bidders have submitted some 40 inquiries.

“This unique 1970-S proof quarter from the United States was over struck on a 1941 quarter from Canada,” reads the lot description. “This mint error was originally discovered in a group of San Francisco proof errors that was auctioned by the State of California. There is a significant amount of detail on both sides showing the design of the Canadian quarter. This is one of the most fascinating and intriguing proof mint errors ever discovered.”

The proof 1970-S Washington quarter error listing, which first caught the attention of, was featured in a May 31, 2016 Woman’s World article. “While it’s no surprise that many 200-year-old coins are worth more than the standard value, some 1970 quarters could be worth far more than 25 cents,” reads the article by Meredith Bodgas. “How much more? How about a yearly salary’s worth!” shed some light on the story, saying that the “chances of finding one of these coins are practically nonexistent, as they are ‘proof coins,’ and were therefore never intended for circulation.” Snopes investigators go on to say, “While third-party coin certification company Numismatic Guaranty Corporation [NGC] couldn’t provide the reason the coin was created, they did confirm to us that it was legitimate.”

NGC stated: “Yes, the coin is NGC certified. We do not know how the struck Canadian coin ended up with planchets and being struck by 1970 25c dies at the San Francisco Mint.” The NGC label reads “1970-S 25C STRUCK ON 1941 CANADA 25C 5.63 GR [the weight of the 1941 80 percent silver Canadian quarter] MINT ERROR PF 65.”

Evidence of the Canadian quarter design is relatively clear, if only light, on the proof Washington error. A ghost-like image of George VI’s head appears superimposed under Washington’s, the top of the monarch’s bust is squarely oriented toward the three o’clock position to the right of the first president’s portrait. Traces of the original obverse inscription from the Canadian quarter, GEORGIVS VI D:G:REX ET IND: IMP:, are seen along the obverse rim of the Washington design. Minor glimpses of the caribou on the Canadian quarter’s reverse peek through tiny patches of the heraldic eagle design as ordinarily seen on the reverse of the Washington quarter.

Certainly one can speculate about how a silver 1941 Canadian quarter wound up in the planchet lineup for 1970 Proof Washington quarters in San Francisco nearly three decades later. Perhaps an enterprising United States Mint employee intentionally placed the coin in the planchet supply to create an instant rarity, or as part of a dare. Or maybe the error arose from a truly freakish accident.

Nobody knows… or, at least, nobody will say.

Regardless, the story of the 1970-S Washington Canadian quarter error has gone viral, prompting many in the general public to sift through their change in search for valuable coins.

When Philadelphia’s ABC-6 News posted the story on their Facebook page, it inspired a flurry of comments. “I have a jug full of quarters and dimes,” commented Bill Atwell on the Philadelphia ABC-6 news Facebook page. “I know what I’m doing after work.”

Others shared similar enthusiasm, including John Lamb, who remarked, “I found 13 1970 quarters in my old coin box, now have too [sic] check my 5 gallons water bottle that is have [sic] full, or half empty.”

Kerry Ventura excitedly tagged her Facebook friend Charles: “check your can.”

Of course, there were plenty of skeptics posting their comments on the story, too, including John McCann. “What pyscho [sic] would pay $35,000 for a quarter? I saw a misprinted quarter […] This has got to be a joke,” he wrote.

Joe Vector quipped, “I know exactly how much it’s worth, 25 cents.”

CoinWeek will keep you posted if anyone bites on Mr. Byers’ offer.

In the meantime, the hunt for treasure will continue for some time, hopefully “minting” a few new collectors in the process.


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  1. And if it would take a pyscho to pay $35,000, how much would a psycho pay? Ah, spell check – so annoying when it undoes your unique word, so glaringly absent in most comment areas. “How fast do YOU type?” “Now, how fast do you type ACCURATELY?”

  2. The best part of this story is the possible number of future collectors it will attract. Everyone gets turned on when there’s the possibility of finding a rare coin in pocket change, no matter what the odds. This is obviously a unique error, but that won’t detract someone going to the bank and sifting through $500 worth of quarter rolls a day.

  3. I think most people—particularly non-collectors–are missing the point. These are proof errors which means they cannot be found in common change. Many media failed to explain this which led to regular folk frantically searching for a non-existent needle in a haystack AND a hoard of fools and scammers selling worthless, circulated 1970 Washington quarters on ebay for ridiculous sums. I can only hope the unsuspecting public did not buy from these ebay sellers, many of whom clearly created accounts just for the purpose of gouging on these quarters found in their pocket change.

  4. Believe it or not but I have a 1971 Washington quarter in my pocket that was also struck over the Canadian quarter
    Easily seen in pics

  5. They can be found in common change Ron. At least the one i found was. I had half a roll of quarters that i dump and was going to put in the jar with the others. I always flip through any quarters looking for a ’70. Not for the value because until a year ago i didn’t know it had value, i collect the ’70 because it’s my born on date. The one with the ring on the face side caught my attention. Now what do i do with it?


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