There’s sometimes confusion about the last date for silver quarter production and folks wonder if there where 1965 silver quarters produced. It’s a bit of a story but here we go…
In 1932, the Washington silver quarter replaced the Standing Liberty quarter as America’s official 25 cent coin in circulation. This new coin was produced in three main US Mints in America: Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco.
The main specification for the coin in terms of composition was that it should contain 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. These coins were produced in bulk up until 1964 and were estimated at a total count of approximately 3.8 billion in circulation and replacement minting measures across American states.
The 1965 Silver Quarters ‘Crisis’
By 1964, the market price for silver made it too expensive for the US Mint to maintain production of quarters and all other coins at their traditional quantities because aside from the usual 0.18084 ounces of pure silver
needed per quarter, the 10-cent and 50-cent coins had similar quantity demands since they were also made of 90 percent silver.
Because it was no longer economical to use silver in the production of any coins by the US Mint (because of dollar devaluation), other viable metals had to be used. Establishing which metals to use required time to evaluate since legislators did not want to run into a similar outcome in the future.
In this short period, the public began to save the silver they had (in terms of the coins) having realized it was steadily surpassing the set face value. As a result, the number of coins in circulation quickly diminished resulting in the coin shortage of 1965.
Global shortage in silver also forced the US Mint to reduce production resulting in the further decrease in the coins in circulation.
Hence, around 1965, Congress reevaluated the Coinage Act of 1792. It’s plan was to come up with a transition mechanism that would prevent the already occurring speculation of the 1964 silver coins from happening further.
As an initial measure, it instructed the US Mint to keep producing Washington silver coins but date them as 1964 coins even after the year had ended.
Therefore, the silver coins produced in 1964, 1965 and 1966 were all dated 1964. The very last of the silver quarter coins was made in January 1966 while the very last silver coin (the 50 cent coin series) was made in April 1966.
Because Congress realized that by the replacement, clad coins they would use were not going to be speculated on, they allowed the US Mint to date them from 1965.
What Replaced the 1965 Silver Quarters?
The replacement metals to be used in the production of the new clad coins were copper, nickel and zinc. In these three metals, Congress saw all their problems answered. The abundance of each of these metals guaranteed that they would not become scarce in the near future forcing another reevaluation.
In retrospect, the cost of producing them at their current input quantity per coin makes them far more economical. In addition, as a precautionary measure, they too are mixed to prevent depletion of available quantities too soon- more along the lines of sustainable use.
For instance, the quarter coin in circulation now contains cupro-nickel in the ratio 91.67 percent Copper and 8.33 percent Nickel using more copper for its low price and availability.