Silver Quarter Value and History

The silver quarter, a fundamental unit of United States currency, has a storied history that reflects the nation's evolving identity and artistic sensibilities. From its earliest designs in the late 18th century to the iconic depictions of the mid-20th century, each iteration of the quarter provides insight into the era it represents. This journey through quarter history will explore the Bust quarter, Seated Liberty Quarter, Barber quarter, Standing Liberty quarter, and Washington quarter, highlighting the unique characteristics and historical contexts of each series. Continue reading to learn about silver quarter value and history.

silver quarter value

AUCTION RECORD: $64,625 • MS66+

Image source: PCGS

Twenty Cent Pieces

The twenty-cent piece, a short-lived denomination minted from 1875 to 1878, shares a part of silver coinage history. Though not a quarter, its introduction is closely related to the story of silver coinage in America. The coin was created to facilitate commerce in the Western United States, where small denomination silver coins were in demand. However, confusion with the quarter and limited use led to its quick demise, making twenty-cent pieces highly collectible today.

Draped Bust Quarters

Minted from 1796 to 1807, the Draped Bust quarters feature a design by Robert Scot, depicting Lady Liberty with flowing hair and a draped bust. This early series reflects the neoclassical style popular at the time and the young nation's identity. Draped Bust quarters, especially those from the earliest years, are rare and highly valued by collectors due to their age, historical significance, and low mintage.

Capped Bust Quarters

Following the Draped Bust series, the Capped Bust quarters were introduced in 1815 and produced until 1838. Designed by John Reich, these quarters showcase Liberty wearing a freedom cap, a symbol of liberty and freedom. The Capped Bust design emphasizes the growing sense of American nationalism and independence. These coins are prized for their beauty and as a representation of early 19th-century America.

Seated Liberty Quarters

The Seated Liberty quarters, minted from 1838 to 1891, feature a design by Christian Gobrecht, with Liberty depicted seated on a rock, holding a staff with a liberty cap. This design underwent several modifications during its tenure, including changes to the obverse stars and reverse shield. Seated Liberty quarters are valued for their long production run and variations, appealing to collectors interested in the nuances of U.S. coin design and history.

Barber Quarters

Named after their designer, Charles E. Barber, Barber quarters were produced from 1892 to 1916. The obverse features a classical portrait of Liberty wearing a laurel wreath, while the reverse depicts an eagle. Barber quarters represent the turn of the century in America, reflecting the nation's industrial growth and global ambitions. These quarters are sought after for their classic design and the era they represent.

Standing Liberty Quarters

Minted from 1916 to 1930, the Standing Liberty quarters, designed by Hermon A. MacNeil, feature a full-figure depiction of Liberty holding a shield and olive branch, symbolizing the nation's readiness and desire for peace. The design reflects the complex sentiments of America during World War I. Standing Liberty quarters, particularly those with a clear date, are highly prized by collectors for their artistic merit and historical significance.

Washington Quarters

Introduced in 1932 to commemorate George Washington's 200th birthday, the Washington quarter design has become one of the most enduring images in U.S. coinage. Initially minted in silver until 1964, these quarters have since been produced in a copper-nickel clad composition. The pre-1965 silver Washington quarters hold particular value for collectors due to their silver content and the wide variety of rare dates and errors within the series.

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Quarter Rolls
Twenty Cent Pieces
Draped Bust Quarters
Capped Bust Quarters
Seated Liberty Quarters
Barber Quarters
Standing Liberty Quarters
Washington Quarters


The quarter is the 25 cent piece that has been around for almost as long as the mint itself. The silver quarter was composed of 90% silver until 1965 when it no longer contained any silver. The U.S. chose the quarter dollar as opposed to having a coin with a face value of ⅕ of a dollar which is common in other places around the world. 

The first quarter minted in the U.S. was the Bust quarter. It was first mined in 1796 and was minted for 42 years. The Bust Quarter was the predecessor of the Seated Liberty quarter. This quarter was one of the most popular quarters minted. The quarter that was next in line was the Barber Quarter that came out in 1892 and was a part of the famous Barber coinage. Thereafter came the Standing Liberty Quarter, it had one of the most intricate designs that have ever been put on a quarter. Lastly what followed was the Washington quarter, our current U.S. quarter. 

Here are all the U.S. quarters and their mintage periods:

Bust quarter: 1796-1838

Seated Liberty Quarter: 1838-1891

Barber quarter: 1892-1916

Standing Liberty quarter: 1916-1930

Washington quarter: 1932-1964



What makes a silver quarter valuable?
Silver quarters are valuable due to their silver content, historical significance, rarity, condition (grade), and any mint errors or unique features.
How can I tell if my quarter is silver?
Quarters minted in 1964 and earlier were made of 90% silver. You can identify them by the mint year or by the edge of the coin; silver quarters have no sandwiched copper layer visible.
Are all pre-1965 quarters silver?
Yes, all quarters minted in 1964 and earlier are 90% silver and 10% copper.
Which silver quarters are the most valuable?
Key dates, rare mint marks, and those in exceptional condition command the highest values. Notable examples include the 1932-D and 1932-S Washington quarters, and high-grade examples of early series like the Standing Liberty and Barber quarters.
How much silver is in a quarter?
A standard silver quarter minted before 1965 contains approximately 0.1808 troy ounces of silver.
Can I find silver quarters in circulation?
While it's rare, it is still possible to find silver quarters in circulation. Coin roll hunting or examining change can sometimes yield these treasures.
What is the difference between a silver proof quarter and a regular silver quarter?
Silver proof quarters are specially minted coins with a mirror-like finish intended for collectors, whereas regular silver quarters were produced for circulation. Proofs usually have a higher value due to their finish and lower mintage numbers.
Do state quarters come in silver?
Yes, the U.S. Mint produced silver proof sets of the 50 State Quarters, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories quarters. These are 90% silver and intended for collectors.
How do I sell my silver quarters?
You can sell silver quarters to coin dealers, at coin shows, through online auctions, or to collectors directly. It's beneficial to know the current silver price and have an idea of your coin's grade and rarity.
What year did they stop making silver quarters?
The U.S. Mint stopped producing circulating quarters in 90% silver in 1964. Since then, quarters intended for circulation have been made of a copper-nickel clad.
Are there any modern silver quarters?
Modern collector quarters, such as proof and commemorative issues, are made of silver but are not intended for general circulation.
What is a junk silver quarter?
"Junk" silver refers to silver coins in average circulated condition, valued mainly for their metal content rather than numismatic or collectible value. This term often includes circulated pre-1965 quarters.
How does the grade of a silver quarter affect its value?
The higher the grade (condition) of a silver quarter, the more valuable it is. Collectors value well-preserved coins, especially those with little to no wear, sharp details, and luster.
Are commemorative silver quarters worth more?
Commemorative silver quarters can be worth more than their silver content value, depending on the rarity, demand, and condition. Collector interest in specific themes or historical events can drive up value.

What determines the silver quarter value?

The silver quarter value is primarily determined by its silver content, rarity, condition (grade), and demand among collectors. Historical significance and mint errors can also influence its value.
How does the market price of silver affect silver quarter value?
The market price of silver directly affects the base value of silver quarters since their worth is partly determined by their metal content. As silver prices rise, so does the value of silver quarters.How do commemorative or special issue quarters compare in silver quarter value?

Commemorative or special issue quarters made of silver can have values above their silver content, depending on rarity, demand, and condition.What resources can help me determine my silver quarter's value?

Resources for determining silver quarter value include coin value guides (both online and in print), auctions (for price comparisons), and appraisals from professional numismatists.