When it comes to coin collecting, it’s not just old coins that can be valuable. Even some relatively recent issues can get collectors hot under the collar.
That’s the case with the coins we’re going to look at here. We’re going to investigate 16 of the most valuable modern quarters to have been sold in recent years. And we’ll find out just what it is that makes buyers willing to pay big bucks to own them.
So if you’re ready, let’s find out more!
Most Valuable Modern Quarters
This modern quarter dating from 1964 was graded by an independent coin authority, the Professional Coin Grading Service, or PCGS. The system provides a way for collectors to have unbiased information on the quality and condition of any coin.
This one was graded MS68. The MS means that it’s in mint state. In other words, it hasn’t been circulated and is as fresh as the day it was made.
The number 68 refers to its condition. Gradings go up to 70, and the higher the number, the better the condition of the coin. 68 is therefore excellent quality. It means there are only the smallest weaknesses in the strike, and the tiniest, barely visible imperfections.
The “D” after the date signifies that the coin was made at the Denver mint. It was one of over 700 million Washington quarters minted there that year. But what makes this one special is its condition.
At MS68, it’s what’s known to coin collectors as a “Superb Gem”. And no better quality examples are known to exist.
So for collectors looking for a complete set of modern quarters – one from each year – it’s very special. And when it came to auction in March 2021, there was plenty of competition from buyers. It eventually sold for $38,400.
This coin dates from the following year, and it’s another that’s in excellent condition. The PCGS graded it MS67+ and gave it the classification “GEM BU”. That means it’s in “Gem brilliant uncirculated” condition.
It was one of only 10 coins from that year to exist in such excellent quality. And it achieved a record auction price because no better example had ever been found.
It came up for sale at auctioneers Stack’s in January 2005. The final price, including the buyer’s premium, was $12,500.
The “S” after the date in the description of this 1971 modern quarter stands for San Francisco. That’s the location of the mint where it was made.
It’s graded PR69 by the PCGS. That means it’s a proof coin – one that was specially and carefully struck using a hand-finished die. Each proof coin is struck six times at the lowest possible speed and pressure. And the die is cleaned before and after each strike.
That makes it a much more time-consuming process than for other coins. It takes about an hour to produce 50 proofs. In the same time, the mint today would make 3,000 standard coins – known as bullion. Proof coins are usually offered as commemorative editions for collectors.
This example was also given the designation “deep cameo” by the PCGS. That means it has an intense frosted finish on the raised parts of the design. That contrasts with a smooth, reflective ground. Deep cameos are only produced from the first few uses of a new proof die.
All this makes this a special coin. And when it was sold in November 2007, it fetched a price of $7,475.
This modern quarter was produced in 1967 as part of a Special Mint Set, or SMS. And it’s another coin to gain the prestigious “deep cameo” designation.
It was graded at SP68 by the PCGS, making it a “Superb Gem”. There are only four coins of this quality from this year, and none finer are known to exist.
That meant that collectors were keen to get their hands on it when it came up for sale. It was auctioned in January 2017 by Heritage Auctions, the world’s largest coin auctioneers. Including the buyer’s premium, it made $4,465.
1982 and 1983 are interesting years for collectors of modern quarters. That’s because the US Mint didn’t produce any of their uncirculated mint sets in those years. And that makes finding the best quality examples even more challenging.
Even mint state 67 examples from these years are very rare. But this 1982 Washington quarter was graded MS68 by the PCGS, making it the best quality specimen known to exist. And even more excitingly for numismatists, it’s the only such coin to have ever achieved this grading.
It was auctioned in Illinois in April 2015. And its best-in-class status saw it achieve a price, including buyer’s premium, of $4,242.
This 1966 quarter is a deep cameo, making it rare and highly collectable. It was graded MS67 by the PCGS, putting it near the very top in terms of quality.
It came up for sale already housed in a protective holder. The coin had an attractive patina, described by the auction house as “champagne-rose”, on both sides.
It wasn’t the very best specimen known to exist – another modern quarter from that year had been graded more highly. But it was the next best thing, one of two MS67 deep cameos known to exist.
It came to auction in October 2006 and sold for $3,738. That figure included the buyer’s premium.
This 1968 Washington quarter bears an “S” behind Washington’s neck, indicating that it was minted in San Francisco. It’s another deep cameo, and it’s a truly exceptional quality proof coin. It was graded PR69 by the PCGS.
Despite being a relatively recent proof edition, numbers of this coin are low. 23 PR69 deep cameos are known to exist from this mintage. And there are no known finer specimens.
Heritage Auctions again handled the sale. The coin was presented at auction in 2007 and achieved a price, including buyer’s premium, of $2,875.
Over 550 million modern quarters were minted in 1986. So finding one that’s worth serious money is not an easy task.
But this example, minted in Philadelphia, is one such example. It was graded MS67 by the PCGS. And that made it one of only ten coins of that quality known to exist. It also claimed the joint top spot for quality – no coins graded higher have ever been found.
It was offered for sale by Heritage Auctions in June 2019. The winning bid, including buyer’s premium, was just short of $2,900.
This stunning coin is almost perfect. It dates from 1970 and was minted in San Francisco. And it’s graded proof 69 by the PCGS, together with the Deep Cameo designation.
Unsurprisingly, coins of this quality are not easy to come by. There are just 31 known examples from this year. So while it’s not unique, it is rare.
It was presented at auction in Houston, Texas, in November 2007, part of the collection of one Michael Fuller. The final price, including a 15 per cent buyer’s premium, was $2,760.
This Washington quarter was minted in 1965 as part of a Special Mint Series. That gives it the designation “SP” in the PCGS’s certification system. It was given a quality rating of 68 and was designated a cameo.
Because these were proof coins struck for collectors, most have survived in very good condition. But cameos are still difficult to find.
Like deep cameos, cameos have frosting on the raised surfaces and clean, shiny grounds. But the level of contrast isn’t quite as great as with a deep cameo.
There are only three MS68 cameos known to exist from the 1965 mintage. This one came up for sale in February 2018 and made $2,640.
1981 saw the San Francisco mint produce two distinct types of modern quarter. Type 2 coins had a more bulbous mintmark, and they’re considerably rarer than Type 1.
This example is a Type 2 – and it’s in absolutely tip-top quality, graded proof 70 and deep cameo by the PCGS. It’s impossible to improve on this standard.
Even so, the sale price of $2,530 isn’t the highest on our list. That’s because there are other coins that also achieve the same standard. 23 are known to exist rated 70 and deep cameo, which keeps prices to a more modest level.
This 1985 coin, minted in Philadelphia, was graded MS67 by the PCGS. That’s the highest known grading for a modern quarter from that year. And there are only six coins in total to achieve that designation.
It was expected to fetch between $700 and $750 when it came up for auction in June 2017. But in the event, bidding was far more competitive.
The coin eventually sold for $1,528, including the buyer’s premium.
This coin looks quite different to the others on this list! That’s because it was the subject of a fairly spectacular error at the Philadelphia mint.
When it was first struck, the coin somehow became stuck against the die used for the obverse side. The result was a heavy lip on the right-hand side of the coin, with at least four different strikes visible.
Like perfect coins, errors like this one are highly collectable because of their rarity. This coin sold in January 2005 for $1,495.
This modern quarter dates from 1969 and is in almost perfect condition, graded proof 69 by the PCGS. It’s also classified as a deep cameo, adding further interest for collectors.
As a proof, though, it will almost certainly have been bought by a collector in the first place. And that means that coins like it will have been stored carefully and kept in pristine condition. As a result, there are 45 coins at this level of quality in existence. That in turn holds down the price.
This lovely coin was sold at auction in July 2013, and made just over $1,400.
In 1983, the Denver mint struck this Washington quarter, graded MS67 by the PCGS. Like modern quarters from 1982, the value of 1983 specimens is enhanced by the absence of any special mint sets that year. That makes good quality coins rarer, and highly collectable.
There are thought to be just 13 coins of this quality in existence, with no finer examples found to date. This one had extra appeal because it was presented in a special holder with a green label celebrating the 30th anniversary of the PCGS.
It came up for sale in September 2016 and realised a price of $1,410.
The final modern quarter to make our list is this 1984 example, minted in Philadelphia.
It’s tied with 11 other coins as the highest quality example from that year graded by the PCGS, with none finer. The NGC (the Numismatic Guaranty Company), another grading service, however, certified 27 coins at this level. And they certified one in finer condition.
When you consider that over 676 million of these coins were minted that year, this is nevertheless a special specimen! It went to auction in February 2016, and made just under $1,300, including the buyer’s premium.
Quarters Worth Thousands
That brings us to the end of our look at the 16 most valuable modern quarters. With prices ranging from just over $1,000 to five figures, it’s clear that some of these newer coins are worth serious money.
If you’re beginning a collection, you can get your hands on some excellent specimens at relatively modest prices. That allows you to own beautiful and special coins without re-mortgaging your home! And there’s plenty of scope to search out rarer finds over time.
And if you’ve got modern quarters in pristine condition, handle them with care! They might be worth more than you think.