How to Grade Washington Quarters
Collecting coins can be one of the most fulfilling things you can do. Finding that little treasure in pocket change, coming across a great deal on a coin you're missing or have been wanting forever and completing collections like the Washington Quarter series can truly give you a sense of gratification. However, regardless of how complete our collections are, knowing what our coins are worth certainly gives our efforts a sense of worth as well.
Granted, many of the coins you may have in your collection may be already graded which makes valuing your coins much easier. However, for those coins you have that don't have grades, you can grade them yourself and at least come up with a reasonably close approximation of what your coins are actually worth. Fortunately, with the Washington Quarters, there are lots of places you can look on one to try to determine a grade for it.
Let's take a look at the grades for Washington quarters starting with VG-8 and working our way up.
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VG-8, or Very Good is a quarter that shows quite a bit of wear. Even though the obverse and reverse are worn, they still show strong design elements, although most surfaces do have a flat appearance. The obverse is weak although the letters are still clear and complete and aren't worn through to the edge. The reverse has pretty much a complete rim although most of the breast feathers and wreath leaves are indistinct. The wing feathers will be partially showing.
F-12, or Fine has wear across the entire coin but most all of the design elements show through well. This includes the letters, mottoes and the date. On the obverse, the rim is clear and sharp and well delineated from the lettering. Also, details are becoming obvious at the back of Washington's hair. The reverse also has a sharp and well delineated rim and about 3/4ths of the feathers are showing, even though there may be some wear. Major details on the breast and the legs are visible, but not well defined.
VF-20, or Very Fine takes the detail levels up a notch while the wear goes down. Only the highest points of the obverse and reverse show moderate wear and many of the fine details are starting to show up. On the obverse, this is especially evident with Washington's hair as you can now see a hairline on his forehead and the hair over the ears is becoming visible. On the reverse, even though the breast still shows wear and the legs are smooth, details on the breast are beginning to become visible as well as well defined feathers in the wings.
EF-40, EF-40 or Extra Fine quarters show very little wear and may actually have some mint luster left on the coin. Even though there may be some minor wear and scratches, all design elements are clear and sharp with only the highest points on the quarter showing any wear. The obverse shows most all of Washington's hair and the hairline on his forehead is clear and sharp. The reverse shows only the slightest wear on the highest points of the breast and legs of the eagle and most feathers are clear and sharply defined.
AU-55, or About Uncirculated shows only the most minor of wear or abrasions on the highest of surfaces and the mint luster is pretty much complete. For the obverse, only the lightest of wear on Washington's hair above his ears and on his head may show slight wear and the mint luster is essentially complete. The reverse is much the same, only showing the lightest wear on the breast and legs and with an essentially intact mint luster.
MS-63, or Mint State 63 is a quarter that shows no wear whatsoever and the mint luster is complete. However, there may be hairline scratches, bag marks or other contact marks on the coin. The obverse will have total mint luster but may show distracting abrasions from contact with other quarters in the bag or during process. The reverse will be the same, with complete mint luster and only the distracting scratches from contact.
MS-65, or Mint State 65 is almost a pristine quarter showing complete brilliant mint luster and only the slightest of contact marks. The obverse may show only the lightest of scratches on Washington's face, neck or field with an intact mint luster. The reverse is much the same, showing only the lightest of marks on the highest of points and a complete mint luster.
MS-67, or Mint State 67 is almost a perfect quarter with complete and brilliant mint luster and virtually no imperfections, even on the highest points. There may be two or three minor imperfections visible under a magnifying glass. The obverse shows great mint luster and may only have a couple of minor contact marks in the field, on Washington's neck or on his face. The reverse also has a virtually perfect mint luster and only a couple minor contact marks visible under magnification.
Summary on Grading
Of course, the better condition your quarter is in, the more it will be work. Keep in mind that any Washington Quarter 1964 and before, you can count on a quarter in even poor condition being worth at least silver melt value and, since most quarters are in better than fair condition, the value could be worth well more than silver melt value, especially the 1932-D and 1932-S and the 1950 D/S and S/D overstrikes. Also keep in mind that even if the mint luster of the coin is discolored, this isn't as detracting a factor as you may think.
Another point to note is that for most Washington Quarters 1965 and newer, especially those that have seen any circulation simply aren't going to be worth much more than a quarter unless they are in MS-63 or better condition.
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