The Storied History of the Washington Quarter

Washington quarters are ubiquitous. We’ve all had them in our pockets, change jars and coin collections, but how many people know the history of this workhorse coin?

For example, did you know that George Washington’s face was intended to grace a half dollar, not a quarter?

From Coin Week:

In early 1931, the Treasury, the Washington Bicentennial Commission and the federal Commission of Fine Arts effectively harnessed this public euphoria to co-sponsor another coin design competition. This time around, to observe the 200th anniversary of the father of our country’s birth, it was deemed that all regular-issue half dollars produced in 1932 should commemorate George Washington…

…Adding a bit of flavor early on in the competition, Congress stepped in and tweaked the playing field. On March 4, 1931, Congress changed the new commemorative coin from the half dollar to the quarter dollar!

This change originated in the Oval Office, where President Hoover and others in the administration felt that the quarter would be best suited for this enterprise because sufficient larger-denomination coins were already circulating and, given the current economic times, the smaller coin would be more cost-efficient.

Read more at Coin Week.

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