Silver quarters began being produced in 1796 but what was the last year for silver quarters? The actual silver content within the coins for a long time was approximately 90% and then later, ended up at 0% silver content. The issues from 1838 were not the first to bear a value upon them, these were the 1804 issues. The issues from 1838 were however the first to bear a value spelled out upon them.
The Last Year for Silver Quarters in Regular Production
The last year for silver quarters (i.e. regular mint production and circulated) was 1964 though a special issue bearing some silver was made to commemorate the 200th anniversary of independence.
The Bust Quarter
- This was last minted in 1838. They bore no mint mark from their place of minting-Philadelphia- and were composed of approximately 90% silver. Engraved by Robert Scot, there were two major types though only the Capped Bust variety was still in production by 1838. These had diameters less than the 24.8mm of the earlier mints and weighed 6.74gms.
The Seated Liberty Quarter
- Minted from 1838 to 1891, these coins had several versions issued over the years. With the new reduced diameter of 24.3mm, they still had 90% in silver content with weights varying from 6.22gms- 6.68gms. They were minted at New Orleans, Philadelphia, Carson City and San Francisco with their mint marks being placed below the eagles on the reverse side. Several of these varieties were produced: those bearing a motto and those having none.
- No Motto on reverse side: these were the issues of 1838-1865. They started of with Liberty having no drapery at the left elbow though productions from 1840 did. The varieties for the 1842 issues come with the options of Large or Small date, with those bearing Small date being more valuable due to rarity. The issue of 1853 had arrowheads placed at the date with rays on the reverse though later versions had none.
- Motto on reverse side: these started being issued in 1866-1891 with varieties in 1873 having arrowheads placed at the date.
The Liberty Head Silver Quarters
- Also known as the Barber Quarters, these began being issued in 1892 and continued until 1916. They bore the initial of their designer at the truncation of the neck of Liberty, contained 90% in silver, a diameter of 24.3mm and a total weight of 6.25 grams. Minted from Denver, Philadelphia, New Orleans and San Francisco, their diameters were similar to the editions before it. The obverse side of the coins had Liberty crowned with a wreath, while the reverse had a heraldic eagle with the words “QUARTER DOLLAR” beneath it and a banner bearing “E Pluribus Unum” in its beak.
The Standing Liberty Quarter
- Issued from 1916-1930, they were designed with the designer’s initial to the right side of the date on these coins. They were similar in weight and composition as the Barber Quarters with changes being made on Liberty to cover the breast. The reverse was also modified in that the eagle had no stars below it on the reverse. The Denver and San Francisco mints have the initials “D” and “S” to the left of the date while those from Philadelphia bore none.
- Type 1: bore Liberty on the obverse with no stars below the eagle. Liberty bore a bared breast with an upraised shield in the left hand and an olive branch on the right.
- Type 2: 3 stars were added under the eagle while Liberty’s chest is chain-mail covered.
The Washington Quarters
- Issued to commemorate the anniversary of the birth of the first president, they were in production from 1932-1964; the last year for silver quarters, at least in regular circulation. The Washington silver quarters had a diameter, weight and composition similar to the the Liberty Head quarters. These coins were only minted from the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco mints and bore the bust of Washington on the obverse with the word “LIBERTY” on top and the motto, “IN GOD WE TRUST” to his left. Mint marks can be found to the right of the bow in Washington’s hair while the reverse features the bald eagle design with the text “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” at the top and “E Pluribus Unum” below.
So what was the absolute last year for silver quarters?
The Bicentennial Quarter-the last issue with any silver content– was designed by Jack Ahr and minted between 1975 and 1976. However all issues were dated 1976 and sadly enough this was the last year for silver quarters as a circulating currency.