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HomeUS Coins1958 Washington Quarter : A Collector's Guide

1958 Washington Quarter : A Collector’s Guide

1958 Washington Quarter. Image: Heritage Auctions / CoinWeek.
1958 Washington Quarter. Image: Heritage Auctions / Adobe Stock / CoinWeek.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
In the grand scheme of things, the 1958 recession known as the “Eisenhower Recession” was relatively minor. Even though it was the most significant economic downturn between 1945 and 1970, it lasted only eight months and was mostly negated by strong economic growth starting in May 1958.

However, since the recession began in the latter part of 1957, it directly influenced the United States Mint’s predictions of coin demand. As a result, the Philadelphia Mint struck only 6,360,000 quarters, an 86% decrease from the 1957 issuance of 46,532,000 coins. This reduced mintage makes the 1958 the second-lowest mintage of the Philadelphia Washington quarter issuances, and the 16th lowest in the entire series.

Additionally, in 1958, the Philadelphia Mint reported large decreases in cent, nickel, dime, and half-dollar production.

Nevertheless, the economic downturn did not affect Mint Set sales too badly. While 1957 sales slumped slightly, in 1958, they hit a high of 50,314 sets. This was the largest number sold by the Mint since 1947. Collectors could purchase these for $4.43 per set, $0.79 above face value ($45.50 when adjusted for inflation). Many of the highest-graded examples come from these sets, often with distinctive toning due to the packaging’s sulfur content. Today, they can often be acquired for between $115 and $150.

Interestingly, the Mint also struck many Type B reverse quarters in 1958. These dies were retired Proof dies, and as a result, many Type B quarters appear Proof-like.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

When the Mint’s monthly reports revealed this dramatic downswing in production, collectors and dealers scrambled to purchase as many examples as possible directly from the Mint and quickly pull them from circulation.

There was heavy speculation on this issue in the 1960s. In 1965, Streator, Illinois, bag and roll dealer Ray Kotansky was offering BU bags of this date for $6,100 USD. Kotansky likely had many customers for the 1958 quarter and wasn’t alone in marketing them. As a result, thousands of Uncirculated rolls were preserved – many still exist and appear on the market occasionally.

Data from the grading services back this up, as the issue has a lopsided certified population.

Only 20 examples have been certified in any condition lower than Mint State. These submitters must have been extremely disappointed, as in lower grades, 1958 is only worth the silver value of roughly $3.25–much less than the grading fee. It isn’t until MS 64 that submitting this type for grading becomes economically viable.

At the time of original writing, coins graded MS64 are worth between $25 and $30. This price is relatively stable, as seen in MS66. Even nicely toned examples with full mint luster and high eye appeal are worth between $30 and $35. While MS66+ examples generally sell for slightly more, one “problem-free” example with relatively unattractive spotty gray obverse toning was sold by Heritage Auctions in 2019 for an abnormally high hammer price of $210. Interestingly, there have been a series of eBay sales over the past year, with examples in all of these grades (MS64 – MS66) totaling less than $20 per coin.

It is in MS67 that the price regularly jumps to three figures. For example, Heritage sold one such coin for $336 in August 2022. This example, with a relatively weak strike, does, however, display spectacular reddish-yellow fading into blue obverse toning and rainbow reverse toning. Nevertheless, many examples still sell on eBay for as low as $40 to $50. This is because the 1958 is one of the easiest types of the series to locate in such high grades.

With only 85 MS67+ examples graded by both NGC and PCGS, the type quickly becomes conditionally rare once it hits this grade. With limited examples available, they are usually auctioned for between $500 and $950 and sell for roughly $400 on eBay. The record price paid for an MS68 coin was $4,443.75 for an attractively-toned NGC coin sold by GreatCollections in September 2018. That same coin sold two years later for about $1,500 less. It had upgraded from a PCGS MS67+ CAC.

Top PopulationPCGS MS67+ (49, 4/2024). NGC MS68 (5, 4/2024), and CAC MS67+ (0:1 stickered:graded, 3/2024).

Since 2020, the PCGS population of coins in MS67+ has increased dramatically. The population stood at two coins in November 2011, not long after introducing the plus grade. By May 2016, only two coins had been added to the pops. Three years later, the number had risen to about 18. As of March 30, 2024, the number has increased to 49. The supply of Premium Gem 1958 Quarters is not yet exhausted. We expect a coin to break into the PCGS MS68 grade level within the next year.

  • NGC MS68 #5856311-002: Heritage Auctions, November 17, 2023, Lot 3477 – $1,080. Brilliant.
  • NGC MS68 #6587981-001: GreatCollections, February 12, 2023, Lot 1290188 – View. Mottled toning.
  • NGC MS68 #4825261-002: As PCGS MS67+ CAC #34455773. GreatCollections, April 1, 2018, Lot 564470 – View. As NGC MS68 #4825261-002. GreatCollections, September 9, 2018, Lot 621400 – View; GreatCollections, February 23, 2020, Lot 626078 – View. Rainbow toning.
  • NGC MS67+ CAC #6079133-013: Heritage Auctions, November 29, 2022, Lot 29181 – $504. Light toning with a large fingerprint on the obverse.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #39755603: GreatCollections, August 9, 2020, Lot 735906 – View; Heritage Auctions, May 3, 2022, Lot 21389 – $492. Mint Set toning in blue and rust.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #16501132: “Washington Rainbows Collection, the #1 PCGS REgistry Set of Silver Washington Quarters, 1932-1964,” Stack’s Bowers, March 25, 2021, Lot 2343 – $900. Washington Rainbows on insert. Dark red, gold toning on the reverse, and along the periphery of the obverse.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #39807283: Legend Rare Coin Auctions, October 8, 2020, Lot 168 – $940. Fiery orange and magenta toning.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #39807648: Heritage Auctions, September 8, 2020, Lot 23287 – $576. The obverse has sandy brown toning, and the reverse has dark toning.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #38013826: GreatCollections, December 29, 2019, Lot 762067 – View; Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2020, Lot 7344 – $552; GreatCollections, December 6, 2020, Lot 912014 – View.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #37847958: Legend Rare Coin Auctions, December 12, 2019, Lot 319 – $1,057.50; Heritage Auctions, June 7, 2020, Lot 7164 – $780. Orange, gold, and blue toning.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #38454245: Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2020, Lot 23161 – $1,110. All over steel blue and rose toning on the obverse.
  • NGC MS67+ CAC #2713525-006: Heritage Auctions, December 31, 2019, Lot 21244 – $420. Light toning.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #37176998: GreatCollections, August 25, 2019, Lot 723048 – View; Heritage Auctions, December 7, 2019, Lot 7331 – $840. Pale stone toning.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #34094137: Heritage Auctions, April 28, 2019, Lot 7515 – $840; Heritage Auctions, August 18, 2019, Lot 7279 – $1,026. Light brown toning speckled across the obverse and reverse.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #37785717: Heritage Auctions, June 9, 2019, Lot 7431 – $1,020. All over mint set toning in gold and green.
  • NGC MS67+ CAC #3748176-091: Heritage Auctions, December 10, 2017, Lot 7361 – $456; Heritage Auctions, February 26, 2019, Lot 27383 – $504. Specked toning in steel blue and brown.
  • PCGS MS67+ #25631904: Heritage Auctions, May 1, 2016, Lot 7817 – $1,527.50; “The jwb1040 Collection,” Heritage Auctions, February 22, 2018, Lot 3655 – $870. Crescent rainbow toning along the top of the obverse.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #25307738: Heritage Auctions, June 5, 2014, Lot 3856 – $998.75. Rainbow toning at the periphery. All over toning in rose and green.
  • PCGS MS67+ CAC #19708609: Stack’s Bowers, November 15, 2011, Lot 2197 – $2,185; “The Dr. David Poole Collection of Silver Washington Quarters,” Heritage Auctions, January 10, 2013, Lot 4837 – $1,292.50. Typical steel gray, gold, and orange Mint Set toning.

Type B Reverse, FS-901

  • PCGS MS67+ #36192384: Heritage Auctions, March 14, 2019, Lot 3107 – $4,800. Peach toning with darker periphery toning in green, and maroon.
  • PCGS MS67 #33637488: GreatCollections, May 19, 2019, Lot 670770 – View.

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Design

Obverse:

Designed by John Flanagan, the obverse of the 1958 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 (1958) below. In small letters, Flanagan’s initials “JF” can be found above the “8” in 1958 at the base of the bust.

Reverse:

Unlike the obverse, there were no restrictions 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. Above the eagle can be read the two main inscriptions 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 1958 Washington quarter is reeded.

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, 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: 1958
Denomination: Quarter Dollar (25 Cents USD)
Mint Mark: None (Philadelphia)
Mintage: 6,360,000
Alloy: 90% Silver, 10% Copper
Weight: 6.30 g
Diameter: 24.3 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: John Flanagan
REV Designer: John Flanagan
Quality: Business Strike

 

Fun Film Fact

Hitman Chighur, played by Javier Bardem in No Country of Old Men (2007), uses a 1958-dated quarter in his coin toss with a proprietor at a gas station. Had the proprietor lost the coin toss, Chighur would have taken his life. Instead, the man chose heads, and heads it was. Chighur gives him the “lucky quarter” and advises him not to put it into his pocket, “or it’ll get mixed in with the others and become just a coin. Which it is.”

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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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12 COMMENTS

    • Like a 1958 quarter, 1951 isn’t considered to be a rare date. In average condition it’s pretty much worth only its precious-metal value, around $5. Of course the buying price will be less.

  1. How can you decrease production of something by over 100%? Once you’ve decreased production by 100%, you’re left with making zero. Exactly what kind of math are you using?

    • In average condition it’s pretty much worth only its precious-metal value, around $5. Of course the buying price will be less.

    • Remember that these coins were struck in a 90% silver alloy. Depending on what they’ve been exposed to over the years the silver can react in various ways to produce toning that can range from beautiful rainbow-like colors to an ugly gray.

      The precious-metal value of a 1958 Washington quarter is around $5 (retail, wholesale is of course less). An XF- or MS-grade specimen with attractive toning can bring a premium. However average surface oxidation doesn’t add anything.

    • For US coins the major factors are
      – Scarcity
      – Date
      – Mint mark
      – Condition
      – in some cases, Design

      Look for a copy of A Guide Book of United States Coins, better known as simply “the Red Book”. It’ll give you an excellent introduction to American coinage. Lots of collectors, myself included, have gotten their start with the Red Book.

      In addition there are numerous websites you can consult, but be sure you stick to those that are run by major numismatic agencies or other professional collectors. General auction sites, videos sites, etc. are often not regularly monitored; they can contain at least as much dodgy info as factual material.

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