Low Mint Set
Sales Help Explain 1986-D Quarter
By Paul M. Green
Without a lot of
attention the 1986-D Washington quarter has been
steadily rising in price and recognition as one
of the best of the Washington quarters of the
past few decades. While there are good reasons
for the price increases there remain questions
as to just how good the 1986-D may really be in
comparison with some of the other better
Washington quarters of the past few decades.
In fairness, of the Washington quarter dates of
the 1980s, the 1986-D is not going to be seen as
the key or most expensive. The 1982 and 1983
coins from both Philadelphia and Denver are
always likely to be more expensive simply
because those were the years when no mint sets
were offered. That means no reserve supplies
from those years exist and that should continue
to keep their prices higher than a date like the
The matter of mint sets does, however, play a
role in the case of the 1986-D. In 1986 there
were mint sets, but the sales total was just
1,153,536 and it is the lowest of the decade. If
the supply of the uncirculated 1986-D coins is
too low, there are also not a large number of
mint sets to potentially be broken up to provide
the market with new Mint State examples. Some
have kept in the back of their minds that the
1986 coins of all denominations could prove to
be a problem.
There were other factors that worked against the
saving of any numbers of new issues back in
The modern commemorative coin program was
gaining momentum. Collectors were buying those
and forgetting about BU quarter rolls.
There was also the beginning of the American
Eagle gold and silver bullion coin program in
1986. With so many different and exciting new
opportunities, there is little doubt that the
collectors and dealers of the time had to budget
their money when it came to new issues.
The dealers were critical as they are the ones
most likely to save rolls and bags, but faced
with the prospect of spending money on routine
business strikes or buying proof American Eagles
and new commemoratives, it was simply natural
for many to spend less on regular rolls and bags
and more on commemoratives and bullion coins.
This would have seemed smarter at the time.
Decisions from the 1980s have an impact today.
The 1986-D has now increased in price to $15 in
MS-65. That makes it half the price of the
1982-P and one-third the 1983-P.
The 1986-D is higher than the 1986-P, although
the probability is that there may have been a
small number of 1986-P quarters that came on the
market. It is hard to tell based on grading
service totals, but as dealers drive the prices,
we have to assume they know what they are doing
and based on the increases in price of the
1986-D, we have to think it is a better date.