The value of a 1970-S Washington quarter depends upon several factors. Between the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco mint facilities, over half a billion quarters were made in 1970. Therefore, the 1970 quarter is quite common and can still be found in circulation today.
Uncirculated examples can be purchased from your local coin dealer or online dealers for a few dollars. In a matter of fact, the most expensive 1970-S quarter ever sold was only $110. Of course, this was for a Proof specimen in nearly perfect condition that was graded PR-69. However, a few error coins have sold for thousands of dollars.
The United States Mint first minted the Washington quarter in 1932 as a commemorative coin to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of our first president. From 1932 until 1964, the coins were made of an alloy of 90% silver and 10% copper. In 1965, the mint began producing quarters that consisted of outer layers of 75% copper and 25% nickel clad to a core of pure copper. In 1976, special collector coins to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Declaration Of Independence were minted in 40% silver. Beginning in 1992, the mint began producing special collector versions of the Washington quarter that contained a composition of 90% silver and 10% copper.
The Washington quarter series can be subdivided into the following subtypes:
- Silver Heraldic Eagle era (1932, 1934-1964)
- Clad Heraldic Eagle era (1965-1974)
- Bicentennial Quarter (1975-1976)
- Clad Heraldic Eagle era resumed (1977-1998; "Spaghetti Hair" obverse 1989-1998)
- 50 State Quarters era (1999-2008)
- US Territories & DC reverse (2009)
- America the Beautiful era (2009-2021)
Woman’s World Article Brings Attention to 1970 Washington Quarters
In the June 2016 edition of Woman’s World, an article titled Quarters from 1970 Are Worth an Eyebrow-Raising Amount Now by Meredith Bodgas brought attention to a special 1970-S Washington quarter. Bodgas writes, “And while it's no surprise that many 200-year-old coins are worth more than the standard value, some 1970 quarters could be worth far more than 25 cents. How much more? How about a yearly salary's worth!" Her article is referring to the 1970-S Washington quarter that was struck over a 1941 Canadian quarter.
The Rarest 1970 Quarter
The rarest 1970 quarter was produced when a 1941 Canadian quarter was fed into a coin press at the San Francisco mint set up to create Proof quarters. You can see the remnants of the 1941 Canadian quarter design on the surface of the Washington quarter. Behind Washington’s neck, the outline of the top of King George’s head is clearly visible. Just below that, the remnants of the “R” from the inscription REX is visible. Upon closer inspection, you can see all the details from the original 1941 Canadian quarter.
Numismatic Guarantee Corporation authenticated the quarter as a genuine United States coin. A typical 1970 quarter weighs 5.67 grams, has outer layers of 75% copper and 25% nickel bonded to an inner core of pure copper. This coin matches the specifications of the Canadian quarter weighing 5.83 grams (+/- 0.04 g.), and chemical analysis revealed it was composed of 80% silver.
The $35,000 Mint Error
Mike Byers is a world-renowned expert on U.S. and world mint error coins. He has written several books on mint errors and consults with the major third-party certification companies to authenticate error coins. When selling this coin on eBay for an asking price of $35,000, he states, “A very small group of Proof errors recently came from a collection that was auctioned by the State of California. The U.S. Secret Service inspected and released this collection to the State of California, determining that it was legal to own. The State of California then auctioned the collection, and it has been dispersed since the sale.”
Although nobody knows for sure how this coin was made, there is a lot of speculation. Since the United States does not make Canadian coins, the only way a thirty-year-old coin could enter the United States Mint facility is with some help from the inside. This quarter is not the only a bizarre 1970-S Proof Washington quarter made at the facility. There is also a specimen struck on a 1900 Barber quarter, and one struck on a twenty-five centavos piece from the Philippines.
Those familiar with the minting process at the United States Mint in San Francisco, have commented that it is impossible for coins like these to "accidentally" entered the minting process. Therefore, although it is only speculation, it is thought to have been minted by some unscrupulous mint employees. Regardless of how this coin came into existence, we are confident that this rare and expensive coin is highly sought after by collectors of United States error coins.
Coin Values for the 1970 Washington Quarter
1970 Washington quarters made at the Philadelphia and Denver mint can still be found in circulation today for face value. Collectors seeking an uncirculated specimen can acquire one for a few dollars from their favorite coin dealer. Specimens minted at the San Francisco mint were specially made for collectors who purchased Proof Sets and can also be acquired for just a few dollars. In fact, an entire set of 1970-S Proof coins can be bought for under ten dollars.
Top 10 Auction Records of the 1970-S Washington Quarter
A few high-grade specimens have been certified and sold at auction for record prices.
- $2,760 November 2007; Heritage Auctions; PR69DCAM (PCGS)
- $2,400 May 2010; Stack's; PR69DCAM (PCGS)
- $1,553 April 2006; Heritage Auctions; PR66CAM (ANACS)
- $1,380 April 2012; Heritage Auctions; PR69DCAM (PCGS)
- $1,380 July 2010; Heritage Auctions; PR69DCAM (PCGS)
- $1,323 November 2008; Bowers & Merena; PR66CAM (PCGS)
- $1,175 October 2014; Heritage Auctions; PR67CAM (PCGS)
- $1,150 September 2003; Heritage Auctions; PR69DACM (PCGS)
- $1,006 September 2003; Heritage Auctions; PR69DCAM (PCGS)
- $985 April 2017; eBay; PR69DCAM (PCGS)