Tagged Common Might be Worth Look
By Paul M. Green
No one gives the
1956 Washington quarter a second thought. In
fact, few really give any Washington quarters
except the 1932-D and 1932-S a second thought.
Perhaps it is time for everyone to take a long
and much deeper look at Washington quarters as
there just might be some real sleepers waiting
to be discovered.
In the case of the 1956, which was not an
especially low mintage date and which had an
additional 669,384 pieces in the proof sets of
the year, it is best to simply consider why the
general belief would be that it is a readily
available date. Certainly the mintage, which was
average for the period, is one reason.
What must be remembered, however, is that
mintages for dates from the 1950s really only
matter in the case of circulated examples and
they are routinely priced at about their silver
value. What really matters to most collectors
today is the number of coins available in Mint
State and especially MS-65.
The fact is there was little saving of the 1956.
Collectors and dealers of 50 years ago would
have asked why? Those collectors and dealers
back in 1956 would have had no reason to
hand-select particularly nice examples. At the
time, MS-65 applied only to old coppers and not
to Washington quarters. With no real financial
incentive there would have been few, if any, who
would have taken the time to save an especially
In the years that followed even if someone had
saved a roll of 1956 quarters, there was
significant reason to potentially sell that roll
before now. Silver prices peaked in early 1980
at $50 an ounce. At the prices of the time, any
1957 Washington quarter would have been worth
safely over $6. Today an MS-63 1956 Washington
quarter is just $8. Is the extra $2 worth the
With little likelihood of significantly higher
prices, few would have resisted the temptation
to sell in 1980.
Anyone who had wanted a really nice one could
simply have raided a proof set. That would have
cost a little bit more, but it was a viable
The high price of silver in 1980 probably
persuaded a few collectors to dump even their
proof sets. It was certainly not the first
thought, but as silver rose higher it dawned on
people that the proof and mint sets contained
silver coins and the value of their silver was
high enough to make it worthwhile to sell the
sets as well as the rolls and single coins.
How much difference the sales for silver value
made is impossible to assess. We can say that
the 1956 is certainly not available in the
numbers that once existed. Moreover, the MS-65
now at $26 has shown itself to be better than
some Washington dates from the 1950s and 1960s.
That trend may well continue since the 1956 was
never saved in large numbers in top grades in
the first place.