Collecting the 1945 Washington Quarter: An Expert Guide

As a lifelong coin collector and professional numismatist, I‘ve long been fascinated by the Washington quarter series. These handsome 25-cent pieces, struck in 90% silver until 1964, offer a tangible connection to America‘s past and some of the most pivotal moments in our history.

Perhaps no date in the series captures this sense of historical significance more than the 1945 quarter. Minted in the final year of World War II, these coins evoke the spirit of a nation emerging from a long and bloody conflict, hopeful for a new era of peace and prosperity.

But the 1945 quarter isn‘t just a historical relic. It‘s also a classic coin with enduring numismatic appeal, and one that‘s eminently collectible for hobbyists of all levels. Whether you‘re drawn to its sterling silver content, its iconic design, or its connection to a transformative time, this is a coin with a story to tell.

In this guide, we‘ll take an in-depth look at the 1945 Washington quarter, exploring its origins, its values, and its place in numismatic history. We‘ll examine the coin through a collector‘s lens, with expert advice on how to build a top-quality set, avoid problem coins, and fully appreciate this classic American issue.

1945: Coins for a Changing World

The year 1945 marked a major inflection point for the United States and the world as a whole. After nearly six years of global conflict, World War II was finally drawing to a close. The surrender of Germany in May and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August led to Japan‘s surrender and the official end of the war on September 2.

Against this momentous backdrop, the U.S. Mint continued to churn out coins for commerce, including the Washington quarter. But production was markedly lower than in previous years, as wartime demands had strained the nation‘s resources and workforce.

In total, the Mint struck just 103,717,601 quarters across all three active facilities – Philadelphia (no mintmark), Denver (D), and San Francisco (S). That may sound like a substantial sum, but it‘s well below the output of most earlier years. The Philadelphia Mint alone had produced nearly 105 million quarters in 1944.

Here‘s a detailed breakdown of 1945 quarter mintages:

Mint Mintmark Mintage
Philadelphia (none) 74,372,000
Denver D 12,341,600
San Francisco S 17,004,001
Total 103,717,601

The lower production was largely a function of the war effort, which had put immense strain on the nation‘s infrastructure and workforce. Many Mint employees had been called into military service, and those who remained worked long hours under difficult conditions to keep up with demand.

But as the conflict wound down and GIs began returning home, the Mint‘s focus shifted to meeting the needs of a postwar economy. The 1945 quarter, with its 90% silver composition and classic Washington design, would play a key role in that transition, circulating widely as Americans looked ahead to a new chapter in the nation‘s history.

Key Features and Diagnostics

The 1945 Washington quarter, like all issues in the series from 1932 to 1998, features John Flanagan‘s iconic obverse portrait of George Washington, based on the famous Houdon bust. LIBERTY arcs above the portrait, with IN GOD WE TRUST to the left and the date below.

The reverse depicts an eagle with wings outspread, perched on a bundle of arrows and flanked by olive branches. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA runs along the top border, with E PLURIBUS UNUM above the eagle and QUARTER DOLLAR below.

Among the three mints, production quality was generally high in 1945, with sharp strikes and strong luster across most issues. The level of fine detail in Washington‘s hair and the eagle‘s feathers can be truly remarkable on high-grade examples.

Weak strikes are occasionally seen from all mints, especially on the highest points of the design like Washington‘s cheek and throat and the eagle‘s breast. But these are relatively uncommon and don‘t represent a major issue for the date.

When grading 1945 quarters, pay close attention to the areas that commonly show wear first, including Washington‘s cheek, neck, and hair, and the eagle‘s wings, tail, and legs. Higher-grade examples should exhibit full detail in these regions, with minimal flatness or loss of definition.

Collecting Tips and Strategies

So, you‘re interested in collecting 1945 Washington quarters? Great choice! This is a fascinating and rewarding coin to pursue, with a range of options for different budgets, goals, and interests. Here are some tips and strategies to help you build a top-quality set:

Start with a plan: Before you start buying coins, take some time to think about your collecting goals. Are you aiming for a complete set of all three mintmarks? Focusing on a single grade level? Looking for finest-known examples? Having a clear plan will help guide your purchases and keep you on track.

Emphasize eye appeal: When evaluating coins, don‘t just fixate on the technical grade. Pay close attention to eye appeal, or the coin‘s overall visual impact. Look for pieces with full, original luster, clean surfaces, and attractive coloration. A coin that‘s technically graded lower but has superior eye appeal can be a smarter buy than a "plastic" high-grade example.

Diversify your sources: Don‘t just rely on one dealer or auction house for all your purchases. Explore a range of options, including coin shows, online marketplaces, and specialist dealers. This will give you a broader sense of the market and help you find the best coins at the most competitive prices.

Study the market: Take the time to educate yourself on current market conditions and pricing trends for 1945 quarters. Review auction records, price guides, and dealer listings to get a sense of what coins are selling for in different grades and mintmarks. This will help you avoid overpaying and make informed buying decisions.

Consider hiring a professional: If you‘re planning to invest substantial sums in high-grade 1945 quarters, consider hiring a professional coin advisor or portfolio manager. These experts can provide valuable guidance on building a collection, navigating the market, and making smart buying and selling decisions.

Think long-term: Building a high-quality set of 1945 quarters is a marathon, not a sprint. Don‘t feel pressured to acquire coins quickly or compromise on quality. Take your time, be patient, and wait for the right coins at the right prices. A carefully curated collection built over time will be far more valuable and meaningful than a hastily assembled one.

Grading and Price Levels

As with all collectible coins, the grade or condition of a 1945 quarter plays a major role in determining its value. Coins are graded on the 70-point Sheldon scale, with 1 representing a heavily worn or damaged piece and 70 being a perfect, pristine example.

While 1945 quarters are relatively plentiful in lower circulated grades, they become progressively scarcer in higher Mint State levels. This is especially true for the Denver and San Francisco issues, which had significantly smaller mintages than Philadelphia.

Here‘s a breakdown of 1945 quarter values by mintmark and grade, based on recent auction results and dealer price guide data:

Grade 1945 (P) 1945-D 1945-S
Good-4 $5-10 $5-10 $5-10
VF-20 $10-15 $10-15 $10-15
EF-40 $15-25 $20-30 $20-30
AU-50 $25-35 $30-45 $30-45
MS-60 $40-60 $50-75 $50-75
MS-63 $75-100 $100-150 $100-150
MS-65 $150-250 $250-350 $250-350
MS-67 $750-1,000 $1,000-1,500 $1,000-1,500
MS-68 $5,000+ $7,500+ $7,500+

As you can see, values increase significantly in the higher uncirculated grades, especially for coins graded MS-67 and above. These "superb gem" examples are exceptionally rare and command substantial premiums from collectors.

It‘s worth noting that these values represent average ranges and that individual coins may sell for more or less depending on factors like eye appeal, toning, and market conditions. But this gives you a general sense of the 1945 quarter‘s value across the grading spectrum.

Tapping Into Silver Value

One of the key factors that sets the 1945 quarter apart from later issues is its silver content. From 1932 to 1964, quarters were composed of 90% silver and 10% copper, giving them an intrinsic bullion value in addition to their numismatic worth.

At current silver prices (around $25 per ounce as of September 2021), the melt value of a 1945 quarter is approximately $4.50. This means that even the most heavily worn examples are worth multiples of their face value, simply based on their precious metal content.

For collectors, this silver composition provides an added layer of value and security. Even if numismatic premiums fluctuate or decline, the coin‘s melt value provides a reliable price floor. And in times of economic uncertainty or inflation, the tangible, hard asset of silver can be a valuable hedge.

Of course, the vast majority of 1945 quarters are worth significantly more than their melt value, thanks to their collectible appeal. But the silver content is an important factor to consider, especially for those looking to build a set on a budget.

The Future of the 1945 Quarter Market

So, what does the future hold for the 1945 Washington quarter market? While no one can predict the future with certainty, there are some important trends and factors to consider.

On the positive side, the coin‘s historical significance and connection to the end of World War II give it an enduring appeal that transcends the hobby. As time passes and new generations of collectors enter the market, the 1945 quarter‘s story and symbolism will continue to resonate.

The coin‘s silver composition is also a potential hedge against inflation and economic instability. In times of uncertainty, tangible assets like precious metals tend to hold their value better than paper money or digital currencies.

On the other hand, the 1945 quarter is not a rare coin in the absolute sense, with over 100 million examples struck across all mints. This relative abundance could limit potential price appreciation, especially in lower grades.

There‘s also the broader question of demographics and the future of the coin collecting hobby as a whole. As older generations of collectors pass on and younger ones enter the market, tastes and preferences may shift in unpredictable ways.

Ultimately, the key to success in the 1945 quarter market (and the coin market in general) is to focus on quality, rarity, and personal appeal. By building a carefully curated collection of high-grade, visually impressive coins, you‘ll be well-positioned to weather any short-term fluctuations and enjoy your collection for years to come.


The 1945 Washington quarter is a coin with a story to tell. Minted in the final year of World War II, it represents a nation on the cusp of a new era, looking ahead to a future of peace and prosperity after years of sacrifice and struggle.

For collectors, the 1945 quarter offers a wealth of opportunities and challenges. Whether you‘re drawn to its historical significance, its stunning silver design, or its value as a tangible asset, this is a coin that rewards careful study and patient acquisition.

By focusing on quality, rarity, and personal appeal, and by staying informed about market trends and conditions, you can build a collection of 1945 quarters that will bring you joy and satisfaction for years to come. And who knows? You may even be fortunate enough to hold a piece of history in your hand – a tangible link to one of the most pivotal moments in American and world history.

Happy collecting!

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