One of the most common and used coins in the US is the Washington Quarter. This historical coin was made to celebrate the 200th birthday of the first US president, George Washington. Even though the idea was that this coin stays strictly commemorative and in production for just a year, people had different ideas in mind.
They adored the new design so much, that it was clear that the Washington Quarter was here to stay. This amazing design was in use for 66 years, gifting us 66 different yet same quarter coins.
In this article, we will talk about the 1974 quarter value, which varieties are sought-after, what errors you should look for, and how to recognize them.
Why Is The 1974 Washington Quarter Coin Series Special?
What makes this series of Washington Quarter coins special is the fact that this year was the last one for the heraldic eagle reverse side of the quarter. During 1974, all US Mint facilities produced 1974 quarter coins while at the same time preparing a new 1976 Bicenntial quarter design.
This new dual dated 1776-1976 Bicentennial quarters was made in honor of marking the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Also, this was the main reason why there are no 1975 quarter coins. All the quarters struck in 1975 bear the 1776-1976 date.
Pro tip: While there were no government-mandated 1974 silver quarters it is believed that there are some error mistakes that occurred when the U.S. Mint was striking 40% silver 1976 quarters!
The main features of the 1974 Washington Quarter coins
If you want to do something right, you need to do it thoroughly. That benign said, we will start this article by going over some fundamental information about this coin. The most important thing in numismatics is to know the specifications of the particular coin to be able to tell if it is real or fake.
All Washington Quarters on the obverse side feature an image of the first President George Washington, facing left. Just above his head, an inscription “Liberty” is engraved. On the opposite side, near the lower edge, a date of minting and a mint mark is placed. The engraving “In God We Trust” is placed below his chin, on the left side of his bust.
The reverse side features an image of an American eagle. He is standing on a bundle of arrows with the wings outstretched. Just below the arrows are two curved olive branches, symbolizing peace. Under these branches, the denomination “Quarter dollar” is engraved, while the Latin motto “E pluribus unum” and “United States of America” are inscribed above Eagle’s head.
When dealing with Washington Quarters always pay attention to metal composition. Colins struck pre-1965 are made with silver, while post-1965 are made with copper-nickel clad composition. However, from time to time a very valuable error occurs and that is the post-1965 quarter struck on the silver planchette.
You will easily recognize the silver coin by weight and shine. Silver coins have a brighter shine, while copper-nickel-clad coins feature a typical hue that is more subtle in shine.
The mint mark is what you need to look for as well. All quarters that are minted after 1968, bear the mint mark on the obverse side. The Washington Quarter coins bear No mint mark when struck in Philadelphia, mint mark D for Denver, and mint mark S for San Francisco.
These three mints produced together around 1,157,228,868 coins of which 2.6 million are proof coins. This mintage volume makes collecting difficult in terms of rarity and uniqueness. It can be pretty demanding to find a rare or an error coin in this amount of coins. However, if you stick through it will largely pay off.
1974-S Washington Quarter Proof Coins
Most Washington Quarters were minted in regular and proof coin varieties. Proof coins are struck on a carefully selected planchette and with carefully prepared dies. The end result is a perfect coin with an outstanding mint shine and more detailed designs with reflective fields. Coins are highly polished and struck multiple times, which is the reason why all the finest details and lines are clear and sharp.
Proof coins are always struck in San Francisco Mint and they are intended for coin collectors and presentations only. The proof coin mint production for the 1974 Washington Quarter series is pretty low, with only 2.6 million proof coins struck. This makes them even more valuable and sought after among collectors.
You can often find 1974 S quarters with a cameo or deep cameo contrast. The difference between regular strike proof coins and these is in clarity. CAM and DCAM coins are deeply polished and highly reflective which further enhance their value and price.
The proof coins with a CAM contrast have a mirror-like luster. All the design details, such as letters and bust, appear milky white. These areas are not reflective, and they are easily distinguished from the rest of the coin.
On the other hand, DCAM quarters can look like they are black and white. This is due to the high contrast between the reflective field and design. All the details in the design on the deep cameo coin are frosty white and creamy.
Both coin types are scarce and very sought-after among collectors. Their price is high because their way of production is unique. For instance, a DCAM 1974 Washington Quarter was sold for $10,925.
List of errors that occur on 1974 Washington Quarter coins
Due to the high mintage of the 1974 Washington Quarter series these coins aren’t much valuable. Luckily, you can still make some big bucks by searching for valuable errors and varieties! This might sound easy, yet it isn’t, since you shouldn’t find an error coin in your pocket change.
Unfortunately, you can easily get confused by coins you find in circulation in thinking it is a minting error yet they are just damaged. Still, there are many 1974 quarter errors worth a lot of money you just need to learn how to recognize them. Here is the list of error coins found in the 1974 Washington Quarter series:
- 1974 Broadstrike Quarter Error – A broad strike quarter error is a valuable error coin that lacks the reeded edge. Instead, the edge is smooth. This error occurs when the quarter is struck outside of its retaining collar which creates the reeding and shapes the coin. A 1974 broad strike quarter error features a smooth edge, it is a bit wider and thinner than a regular one, but it still has the same weight. A coin with this error can be worth from $15 to $30.
- 1974 Off-center Error – An error like this happens when the strike on the coin field occurs closer to an edge instead of in the center. The more off-center the image is the higher the value. Depending on the percentage of off-center error and the condition of the coin, this error goes from $50 and up.
- 1974 Clipped Planchet Error – The Washington Quarter with the clipper planchet error looks like someone broke a piece from it. This damage occurs when the metal sheet strikes a blank metal during the minting and breaks it. Logically, the more clipped coin is the price is higher. Philadelphia Mint is known as a facility where these errors occur often.
- 1974 Silver Error – Did you know that there isn’t a Washington quarter minted in 1975? The reason is that in 1974, all three US mints made preparations for the upcoming 1976 Bicentennial quarter production. At the same time, they were still producing 1974 coins. However, since San Francisco used planchets with 40% silver for minting coins throughout 1776-1976, a lot of collectors believe there are 1974 error silver Washington quarters. The price of such a mystical coin would be several thousand dollars, yet no one still found it.
Price Guide For Common 1974 Quarter Coins Worth Investing
Knowing that there are more than a billion of these 1974 Quarter coins can discourage you from trying to find a rare example for your collection. Of course, these rare error coins can be hardly found in pocket change. Even if you do find them they will have significant signs of wear and tear, which diminishes their true value. However, that doesn’t mean you should not try it.
Uncirculated 1974 quarters from a regular strike can bring you up to $20, which isn’t that much. Fortunately, error coins and proof coins will make all that hard work pay off. If you take a good look at our table below you’ll notice that a lot of these coins were sold for over $1,000. So don’t give up yet!
Quick price overview
There is a major difference between the prices of uncirculated and circulated coins. For instance, 1966 Washington Quarters in circulated condition are estimated to be worth between $0,30 and $15 while those in mint state are $1,500.
However, a lot of circulated coins are still in good condition and suitable as collecting examples. Here is the list of the top 3 common coins worth investing in:
Current prices of collectible 1974 Washington Quarter coins you can find on the market
Learn How To Determine The Value Of The Washington Quarter?
When you want to invest your hard-earned money you want to invest it properly in items that are worth it. But how do you know that particular item is worth investing in? Well, by researching and learning as much as possible about it, just then when you know all the details you can make a final decision.
This theory is vital when investing in collectible coins. In the next following rows, you’ll learn how to search for valuable coins and what to look for. What makes this search a bit easier is the fact that each coin features a simple design. If anything is different from the original coin design your chances are 50-50 in favor of rare error coin to fake coin.
Determining the value of Washington Quarter on your own is not hard if you know what to look for. Here is the group of factors that will help you do this with ease:
- Material – First you need to learn the difference in overall look between coins made from silver and coins made from copper-nickel clad composition. Remember that silver coins have more shine, while clad coins are matte with a specific grey hue. Also, the texture is different. Silver coins are more smooth.
- Mint mark – Mint mark will tell you the origin of the coin, which will allow you to find out the mintage volume which is crucial when trying to figure out the value. The lower the mintage the higher the price and vice versa. Keep in mind that not all coins carry mint marks. In most cases, coins minted in Philadelphia do not have a mint mark. Also, don’t forget that pre-1968 quarter coins have mint marks located on the reverse side. Coins minted after 1968 carry the mint mark on the obverse side.
- Condition and grade – The current condition of your coin will determine the grade, and grade will determine the value and price, simply. There are many different grades, however, only four main groups are interesting to collectors – Uncirculated, Extremely Fine, Fine, and Good. Uncirculated coins with grades above MS68+ are the ones that are true money-makers.
- Rarity – Rare items are always in demand. No matter what type of collectible we talk about, true collectors are willing to pay an enormous amount of money for a rare and unique item. Luckily, coins are among those items that have an abundance of rare and one-of-a-kind specimens. The great news is that there are a lot of undiscovered rare coins that wait to be found.
How And Where To Trade Your Valuable 1974 Washington Quarters?
You can never be safe enough when it comes to trading rare and valuable coins. If you read our articles regularly, this is the part that you by now probably know from word to word. Yet, we won’t give up. We feel obliged to warn you about scams and help you link with reliable sources such as auction houses, and specialized coin web pages.
To avoid unpleasant situations such as paying a large amount of money for fake coins, you need to find reliable dealers to work with. Here is the list of auction houses and coin web pages that we firmly recommend – Heritage Auctions, PCGS, Coins For Sale, Stack’s Bowers, or Littleton Coin Company.
If you are selling your coins you should check the web platforms like eBay, Etsy, and LiveAuctioneers. Here you can find out the current price range, demand, and supply, which is vital when trying to price your coin.
However, if you decide to buy a coin here, please make sure you do your research. Be extra cautious since fake coins can occur on these platforms. Look for feedback, comments, and anything that can help you figure out if the previous customers were satisfied with the cooperation with the dealer.
Should I clean my Washington Quarters and how?
In general, it is not recommended to clean coins. If you aren’t informed well, you can easily damage the coin and decrease its value by treating it with the wrong chemicals. However, if you really need to clean your coin it is recommended to use a very mild soap and warm water solution. Clean the coin only with a soft cloth!
This way you’ll remove any grime and dirt from the surface without damaging the metal. You can also take it for professional cleaning if the coin is in bad condition.
Is it true that there is an app for mobile phones that can help identify error coins?
Yes, you are well-informed. The app is called Coinoscope and it is a visual search engine for coins that will help you out with coin recognition.
It is straightforward to use, all you have to do is take a picture of a coin with your phone camera and upload it on the app. A few moments later you’ll get a list of coins with similar features on your screen.
Normally, this app isn’t 100% accurate, but it is a good way to help you learn how to recognize different coins. If you need accurate information the only thing you can do is take your coin to a professional grading company.
Let’s Make A Quick Resume On The 1974 Washington Quarter
Under the term “modern era coins” we can list all the coins that were minted after 1964. That leads us to the conclusion, that the 1974 Washington Quarter is as well, a modern-era coin. What is characteristic of modern coins, besides the change in material used for minting, is the changed design.
From 1976 the US Mint started producing Washington quarters with an original Flanagan’s obverse, but the reverse side was replaced with an image that commemorates the 50 US states. Meaning that the 1974 Washington Quarter series is the last one from this group that features an American eagle on the reverse side, so there’s your reason to invest in this coin.
Hopefully, this article answered some of your questions about the 1974 Washington Quarters. Also, we hope it helped you figure out how to handle your precious coins and where you can look for them.
In case you know some information that we didn’t mention here, please do not hesitate to share your opinions and advice in the comment section below.