The US Mint started producing Washington quarters in 1932 to celebrate George Washington’s 200th anniversary of birth, but his profile stayed the official silver quarter design. The production of quarters with the clad composition lasted from 1965 to 1998.
Even though coins struck this year in the Philadelphia mint were the last pieces without the mint mark, they are not particularly expensive nowadays. Such a low 1979 Quarter value results from high mintage, and only rare specimens in high grade can be pricey.
1979 Washington quarter value Chart
|Condition||1979 No Mint mark quarter||1979 D quarter||1979 S quarter
type 1 with filled S
|1979 S quarter
type 2 with clear S
|Mint state 65||$6.65||$6.65||/||/|
*by USA Coin Book
History of the 1979 Washington quarter
Unlike other countries, the US chose a quarter-dollar as a standard coin, based on Spanish milled dollars divided into eight segments. Still today, you can hear the term Two Bits for this coin, meaning two eighths.
The first pieces appeared in 1796 when quarters were valuable and made of silver. You can recognize six official designs produced until 1930, including five regular and one commemorative:
- Draped bust with small or heraldic eagle (1796 to 1807)
- Capped bust with and without motto (1815 to 1838)
- Seated Liberty with and without motto (1838 to 1891)
- Barber (1892 to 1916)
- Commemorative Isabella quarter (1893)
- Standing Liberty (1916 to 1930)
In 1932, the US Mint started producing Washington quarters and kept minting these coins until 1998. The first regular pieces issued from 1932 to 1964 were made of silver. The clad composition quarter replaced this coin type and existed from 1965 to 1998.
1979 Washington quarter
|Philadelphia||1979 no mint mark quarter||518,708,000|
|Denver||1979 D quarter||489,789,780|
|San Francisco||1979 S proof quarter||3,677,175|
The Washington quarter replaced the Standing Liberty quarter in 1932 to commemorate the first American President’s 200th birth anniversary. The idea was to issue a one-year-only commemorative coin, but it has become one of the longest-running US coinage designs instead.
Almost a hundred artists sent their vision of a new American quarter based on the French sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon’s Washington bust.
Even though the Commission picked out the powerful Laura Gardin Fraser’s design that was much superior to the competition, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon disagreed with this choice. It was supposed that he disapproved of a female sculptor as a designer of such an important US coinage.
Therefore, John Flanagan’s design won the competition, and he created the second regular-issue US coin with a genuine historical person on the obverse. As I have already mentioned, the first quarter version was made of silver. However, rising prices of this precious metal forced the US Mint to change its composition.
By the late 1970s, silver prices increased to over $50 per ounce. Therefore, most US silver coins were melted in that period, making these pieces highly precious among collectors nowadays.
The 1979 Washington quarters were the last series minted with only D and S mint marks, while those produced in Philadelphia came without it. In 1980, these coins got the P mint mark. Since the heraldic eagle was returned to the quarter reverse design in 1977, you could see it on coins struck in 1979.
Features of the 1979 Washington Quarter
Washington quarters weighing 0.20094 troy ounces (6.25 g) contained 90% silver until 1964. Then, the US Mint started producing clad coins with a cupro-nickel outer layer and a pure copper core. Nowadays, you can also find modern, non-circulating silver versions minted for collectors since 1976.
The obverse of the 1979 Washington quarter
Engraver and sculptor John Flanagan based the quarter’s appearance on the Washington’s portrait created by the French sculptor Houdon. The image shows the 1st American President wearing long hair tied with a ribbon.
You can see the word LIBERTY on the coin’s obverse top rim and the date 1979 below the bust. The motto IN GOD WE TRUST is placed on the left coin side, in front of Washington’s neck.
On the other side is the mint mark D or S, depending on the mint where the coins were struck. Coins produced in Philadelphia had that side blank since 1979 was the last year this mint released quarters without the letter P.
The reverse of the 1979 Washington quarter
You can see a sizable American eagle with fully outspread wings in the reverse center. It holds an arrow bundle in its clutches that represents war above olive branches symbolizing peace.
The inscription UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the denomination QUARTER DOLLAR are struck along the coin rim, while the Latin saying E PLURIBUS UNUM is above the eagle’s head.
1979 Washington quarter
|Face value||25 cents ($0.25)|
|Compound||Clad (pure copper center with a coat of 75% copper and 25% nickel, meaning the overall composition contains 8.33% nickel and 91.67% copper)|
|Coin weight||0.2 ounces (5.67 g)|
|Coin diameter||0.95512 inches (24.26 mm)|
|Coin thickness||0.06890 inches (1.75 mm).|
|Edge||Reeded, with 119 reeds|
Other features of the 1979 Washington quarter
The 1979 Washington quarter, with a face value of 25 cents, contains a pure copper center coated with a layer made of 75% copper and 25% nickel. In other words, it is practically made of 91.67% copper.
This 0.06890 inches (1.75 mm) thick coin weighs precisely 0.2 ounces (5.67 g) and has a diameter of 0.95512 inches (24.26 mm). It comes with 119 reeds along the edge and is round, like other American coinage.
1979 Washington Quarter Value Guides
Three mints produced 1,012,174,955 Washington quarters in 1979 for everyday use. That number included 3,677,175 proofs minted in San Francisco and coins from regular clad from Denver and Philadelphia.
The curiosity was specimens struck with the S mint mark since you can recognize two types produced this particular year:
- 1979 S Washington quarter type 1 with filled S
- 1979 S Washington quarter type 2 with clear S
Both coin types are more pricey than regular coins, but those with a clear S are typically more collectible. Therefore, you should pay a bit more for them.
1979 No Mint Washington quarter Value
The Philadelphia struck 518,708,000 No Mint mark Washington quarters in 1979 with clad composition. Most are abundant on the current coin market, meaning their price is typically low.
1979 Washington quarter value
|Condition||1979 No Mint mark quarter||1976 D quarter|
|MS 66||$20 to $24||$18 to $21.60|
|MS 67||$120 to $144||$275 to $330|
Depending on the condition, most pieces are worth $0.25 to $25, but those with MS 67 ranging can reach $120 to $145. The most expensive is the 1979 No Mint mark MS 68 clad Washington quarter sold at Heritage Auctions in 2022 for an impressive $1,440.
1979 D Washington quarter Value
Precisely 489,789,780 Washington quarters came from the Denver mint in 1979, or just a little less than the mintage reached in the Philadelphia mint. Even their prices are similar, and you should pay $0.25 to $20 per piece, depending on quality.
The most pricey are coins in an MS 67 grade, and most dealers will pay approximately $275 to $330 for them. The remarkable 1979 D MS 67 clad Washington quarter won the auction record. One collector paid $1,078 for it at Great Collections in 2014.
1979 S proof Washington quarter Type 1 and Type 2
The San Francisco mint produced 3,677,000 Washington quarters in 1979, and you can recognize two types. Both are proof coins. Type 1 has a filled and less distinct S mint mark on the right side of the obverse. It typically costs $4 to $20 on the market.
Most collectors avoid this type as less desirable, so its price is almost always lower than Type 2. However, some of these coins are more costly. For instance, one collector bought the 1979 S PR 70 DCAM Type 1 clad Washington quarter for $403 in 2003 at Heritage Auctions.
1979 Proof Washington quarter value
|Condition||1979 S DCAM quarter Type1||1976 S DCAM quarter Type 2|
The 1979 S Washington quarter Type 2 is highly collectible since most collectors like the clear S mint mark on this proof coin. Most of these pieces cost $2 to $10, but those in an MS 70 grade with deep cameo contrast are worth about $30.
The 1979 S PR 70 DCAM Type 2 clad Washington quarter won the auction record at Heritage Auctions in 2003. One collector set aside $495 to get this beautiful coin and add it to their collection.
1979 Washington Quarter Errors
As is usually the case, mints produced a few 1979 Washington quarter dollar errors besides regularly struck pieces. They were typically a result of minting machinery degradation, production faults, and mint staff mistakes.
Interestingly, errors are rare in this series, and it is challenging to find significant imperfections. On the other hand, many coins minted this year were somehow damaged, and you should determine whether you have an error quarter or just a worthless worn piece.
The most common 1979 Washington quarter errors you can find include:
Double rim and broad strike
Such coins were not struck in the regular collar die, so they stayed without reeds. The first step is to differentiate the error coin with a plain edge and the one with a worn edge.
Broad-struck quarters are always wider and flatter than regularly struck ones. Plus, their diameter and thickness differ from the measurements of standard pieces produced this year. While the heavily worn quarters are practically worthless, the error coins typically cost about $20 to $90.
Triple D error
This error appears because of a die flaw. In most cases, the result is the letter D doubling, but you can sometimes see tripling. Quarters with the triple D error are unique, and their price is typically about $175.
Filled D error
This error coin type appears during the minting process, and you can see the atypical D mint mark filled with metal. The reason is a defective die. Those errors are relatively rare and typically cost $150.
Double Filling on the D mint mark
This unique error coin has the D mint mark that looks like a tiny D letter over a larger one. Such a coin can be worth about $180.
FAQ about the 1979 Washington Quarter
What makes a 1979 Washington quarter rare?
Most 1979 Washington quarters are not rare, but you can find some scarce pieces among errors. However, you shouldn’t expect these coins to reach surprisingly high prices on the market.
Which 1979 Washington quarter is worth a lot of money (according to PCGS)?
- 1979 No Mint mark MS 68 clad Washington quarter that was sold for $1,440 at Heritage Auctions in 2022
- 1979 D MS 67 clad Washington quarter that was sold for $1,078 at Great Collections in 2014
- 1979 S PR 70 DCAM clad Washington quarter Type 2 that was sold for $495 at Heritage Auctions in 2003
- 1979 S PR 70 DCAM clad Washington quarter Type 1 that was sold for $403 at Heritage Auctions in 2003
How much is the 1979 No Mint mark Washington quarter worth?
Most 1979 Washington quarters minted in Philadelphia are worth about $0.25 to $25. However, the highest-graded pieces often reach $120 to $145.
What is the rarest Washington quarter?
The San Francisco mint minted only 408,000 and Denver 436,800 coins in 1932. That makes these coins rare and highly desirable among collectors.
The most expensive 1932 D MS 65 Washington quarter was sold for $32,200 at Heritage Auctions in 2003, while the one struck in San Francisco was even more pricey. One collector paid $35,250 for the 1932 S MS 66 Washington quarter in 2013 at Heritage Auctions.