Washington quarters appeared in 1932, and the US Mint produced them with unchanged reverse design until 1998. Initially, these coins were precious and made of silver, but that was changed in 1965. That year, these coins’ composition included copper, which remained unchanged by now.
As expected, cupronickel-clad coins are less valuable than those containing silver, but they are still collectible. Even though these modern coins are rarely expensive, the 1988 quarter value is almost always over their nominal value.
1988 Washington quarter value Chart
|Condition||1988 P quarter||1988 D quarter||1988 S quarter|
*by USA Coin Book
History of the 1988 Washington Quarter
Unlike other nations’ coinage that included 20-cent coins, Americans got a quarter-dollar as a denomination. The reason was practical, and the new quarter occurred after dividing Spanish milled dollars into eight pieces. The new coin was two-eighths, resulting in an old nickname, Two Bits, for this type.
Quarter history began in 1796 when the first Draped Bust quarter containing 89.24% fine silver was released into circulation. These coins’ production was finished in 1807, and the new design, Capped Bust quarter, came onto the scene from 1815 to 1838.
The Seated Liberty quarter, minted from 1838 to 1891, was the first one made of 90% fine silver. It started a practice that lasted until 1964, when circulated coins made of this precious metal went into history.
The list also included a commemorative Isabella quarter struck in 1893, while the next coin was the Barber quarter, minted from 1892 to 1916. The last coin before the Washington quarter became a part of American coinage was the three Standing Liberty quarter types. Their production lasted for a period between 1916 and 1930.
The initial idea for the new quarter was Washington’s 200th birth anniversary in 1932. The US Mint commemorated this important event by minting coins with his portrait on the obverse.
Since the plan included minting these quarters for only a year, the production was suspended in 1933. However, no one was satisfied with the Standing Liberty quarters because their design showed a quick tendency to wear after some time in circulation.
Therefore, the US Mint took advantage of the situation, and the new coin mintage was resumed the following year. Finally, this design was permanently adopted and has been included in the list of American coinage until now.
By 1965, this coin contained 90% silver, but modern pieces were made of cupro-nickel clad over a copper core. However, you can find silver pieces dedicated to collectors minted in the jubilee 1976 year.
1988 Washington quarter
|Philadelphia||1988 P quarter||562,052,000|
|Denver||1988 D quarter||596,810,688|
|San Francisco||1988 S quarter proof||3,262,948|
The story behind the Washington quarter design is controversial. The initial plan was to issue the commemorative half-dollar and medal, but it was changed. However, Congress decided that issuing circulating Washington quarters instead was better.
The competition winner announced in 1930 was Laura Gardin Fraser, who left 98 other (male) contestants behind. A talented James Earle Fraser’s wife had already created a few commemorative half-dollar designs, and her work was recognized and appreciated.
Unfortunately, the then-Secretary of the Treasury refused to respect the results of the competition and favored John Flanagan’s creation. Supposedly, the problem was that the original winner was female, and no pleading managed to change his mind. The result is the quarter we know today.
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Features of the 1988 Washington Quarter
The 1988 Washington quarter is one of the pieces of the series struck from 1932 to 1998 with the same reverse design. Unlike silver coins minted until 1965, those struck in 1988 are made of copper and nickel as a much cheaper solution.
That change in composition affects these coins’ current value. These relatively modern pieces are typically worth their face value, with only several exceptions. However, time works for them, and experts estimate that well-preserved specimens will be more costly and appreciated in the future.
The 1988 Washington quarter obverse
The 1988 Washington quarter obverse is made after Houdin’s portrait of the first American President. John Flanagan relied on it while creating the coin look. He positioned Washington’s face to be turned to the left and surrounded by the DATE and word LIBERTY struck along the rim.
Since the motto, IN GOD WE TRUST, is required on the American coinage, the designer placed it on the left quarter side. All three coin types have the mint mark on the right, behind the ribbon in Washington’s hair.
The 1988 Washington quarter reverse
Some collectors consider the 1988 Washington quarter reverse too complicated and overcrowded. However, no one doubt that it is one of the most elegant solutions in American coinage.
This coin side includes a sizable eagle with spread wings in the central position. It clutches a bunch of arrows in its talons, symbolizing war.
The wordings E PLURIBUS UNUM and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA are above the bird’s head. Finally, the denomination is under the olive branches, an internationally recognized symbol of peace, on the coin rim bottom.
1988 Washington quarter
|Face value||25 cents ($0.25)|
|Compound||75% copper and 25% nickel with a center made of pure copper (these coins are struck of 91.67% copper and nickel in small quantities)|
|Coin diameter||24.3 mm (0.9567 inches)|
|Coin weight||5.67 g (0.20 ounces)|
|Coin thickness||1.75 mm (0.0689 inches)|
Other features of the 1988 Washington quarter
The 1988 Washington quarter is a modern round coin with a reeded edge. Its clad composition includes copper and nickel in a total 75%: 25% ratio. However, only a coat consists of both metals, while the coin core contains only copper. This 25-cent coin comes with the following:
- A thickness of 1.75 mm (0.0689 inches)
- A diameter of 24.3 mm (0.9567 inches)
- A weight of 5.67 g (0.20 ounces)
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1988 Washington Quarter Value Guides
Interestingly, mints in Philadelphia and Denver produced almost the same quantity of Washington quarters in 1988. On the other hand, the mint in San Francisco struck only proofs. The entire mintage in these three places was 1,162,125,636 coins.
You can effortlessly find any of these coins since they are in the group of modern coinage. Their price is relatively low, and most circulated ones are worth as much as their face value. That is the primary reason collectors look only for specimens in top-notch condition.
1988 P Washington quarter
Since the 1988 Washington quarters are modern coins and the mintage in the Philadelphia mint was a huge 562,052,000 pieces, you can expect them to be inexpensive. Most circulated specimens’ price equals their face value, while most of those in the mint state cost only $0.35 to $1.
1988 Washington quarter value
|Condition||1988 P quarter||1988 D quarter|
|MS 66||$55 to $66||$40 to $48|
|MS 67||$1,500 to $1,800||$660 to $792|
Only quarters in an MS 66 grade are more valuable and are worth approximately $55 to $65. Even though experts estimate that the highest-rated pieces with an MS 67 rating should cost $1,500 to $1,800, the most expensive Washington quarter minted this year is the one sold for $750 on eBay in 2021.
1988 D Washington quarter
In 1988, the Denver mint produced 596,810,688 Washington quarter coins. Such a high mintage results in a low value of these coins. Most pieces spending a long time in circulation are worth their face value, while well-preserved ones have higher prices barely.
You can find most of these coins for less than a dollar, and only those above an MS 66 grade are more expensive. Their average estimated price is $40 to $800, depending on the condition.
The most pricey quarter in the series is the one with the letter D on the obverse. It reached a price of $1,645 in 2017, winning the auction record.
1988 S Washington quarter proofs
This year, the mint in San Francisco minted only quarter proofs. The mintage was precisely 3,262,948 coins, and most with deep cameo contrast are worth a modest $4 to $15.
1988 S Washington quarter (proof) value
|Condition||1988 S DCAM quarter|
One of the perfectly preserved quarters with the S mint mark and the 1988 minting year won the auction record. One collector bought it for $403 in 2007.
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1988 Washington Quarter Errors
Most Washington quarters were struck with numerous error variations. In most cases, these imperfect pieces come with higher prices, while several rare errors dramatically increased their value.
You shouldn’t be surprised by numerous errors in the 1988 Washington quarters, particularly those minted in Philadelphia. Typically, these imperfect coins can bring the owner more money than those from regular strikes, so you should look carefully at what you have in your pocket.
The filled-in P mint mark
Coins with this error type came with the filled letter P, representing the mint mark. This error occurred when the die failed to hit the quarter hard enough, leaving an unclear and misshapen letter.
In this error, the planchet wasn’t appropriately shaped. As a result, these coins came with deformities on the edges. They resulted from the striking press malfunction when the planchet inappropriately struck the collar die, constraining the regular metal flow.
Missing clad layer
Sometimes, you can come across the 1988 Washington quarter produced in the Philadelphia mint without a standard clad layer. Since these specimens are not properly clad with nickel, their surface is differently colored.
Capped error (strike thru grease)
This error is uncommon and appears when the mint strikes a coin through grease. In this case, the contact between the die and planchet is inadequate because these two parts don’t lie entirely over each other. As a result, details on the coin surface appear unclear.
Some Washington quarters minted in Denver in 1988 had a doubling in the inscription IN GOD WE TRUST. However, it would help if you were careful with these pieces because some were simply smooshed, not errors.
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FAQ about the 1988 Washington Quarter
What makes 1988 Washington quarters scarce on the market?
Since these quarters are modern and less than 35 years old, you shouldn’t expect them to be rare. In fact, most serious collectors are still uninterested in collecting them. You can count only on errors to be more expensive than those from the regular strikes.
Which 1988 Washington quarters are particularly expensive?
- One collector bought the 1988 D MS 67 Washington quarter at Heritage Auctions for $1,645 in 2017, winning the auction record
- One collector bought the 1988 P MS 67 Washington quarter on eBay for $750 in 2021, winning the auction record
- One collector bought the DCAM 1988 S PR 70 Washington quarter at David Lawrence RC for $403 in 2007, winning the auction record
How much does the 1988 P Washington quarter cost?
Modern and abundant 1988 Washington quarters are inexpensive coins worth $0.25 to $1 in most cases. Only higher-rated ones can be worth about $55 to $65. The most expensive specimen with this date is the one that sold for $750 on eBay in 2021.
What Washington quarters are the most valuable?
The most expensive Washington quarter is the one minted in Denver in 1932, and one collector paid $143,750 in 2008 to get it. Serious collectors also sat aside high sums for some other quarters, including the one struck the same year in San Francisco. This coin was worth $45,500.
There were also a few other coins that won auction records, like the 1949 D Washington quarter ($43,475), the 1948 Washington quarter ($43,200), and the 1932 Washington quarter ($40,250).
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