Washington Quarters

As the dark shadow of economic depression fell across the United States in 1931, there was extraordinarily little to celebrate. However, one opportunity did present itself the following year: the 200th birthday of America’s first president. The Treasury Department chose the quarter dollar to honor Washington, employing a design by medalist John Flanagan that featured an obverse depiction of Washington modeled after the famous bust created by French sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon. This bust was formed from a life mask of Washington’s face taken at Mount Vernon in 1785 and is considered a highly accurate reproduction. The reverse of the original coin featured a bald eagle with outstretched wings clutching a bundle of arrows in its talons. Two olive branches of peace appear below. The Washington quarter was struck yearly in silver from 1932 to 1964 until rising bullion prices necessitated a compositional change to copper-nickel clad in 1965. For the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, a special reverse depicting a colonial drummer boy was issued and all coins featured the dual date of 1776-1976. The popularity of the George Washington quarter amongst collectors has exploded in recent years, largely due to the introduction of the 50 State Quarters Program in 1999, which featured an updated obverse portrait and different reverses honoring each of the 50 states, 5 territories, and Washington, D.C. over an 11-year period. The America the Beautiful Quarters Program produced from 2010 to 2021 showcased different National Park Service sites for each of 56 jurisdictions on the reverse, while a one-year issue honoring Washington crossing the Delaware on the reverse was also minted in 2021 that employed Flanigan’s original obverse design. From 2022 to 2025, the American Women Quarters Program has introduced another new obverse portrait of Washington and will feature 5 new reverse designs each year recognizing the accomplishments and contributions made by women to American history and development. One of the most widely collected coins in the world, the United States Washington Quarter, is legislated to remain in production through the year 2030 or beyond.