1979 Quarter Value: The Ultimate Collector‘s Guide

While not as well-known as the rare 1932 Washington quarters, the 1979 quarter is an important coin for collectors. 1979 marked the last year that the Denver and San Francisco mints used their "D" and "S" mint marks on the quarter before the Philadelphia mint began adding its "P" mint mark in 1980. This makes 1979 a key transitional year.

Whether you‘re a seasoned collector or just starting out, this in-depth guide will tell you everything you need to know about 1979 quarter values. We‘ll cover the coin‘s history, mintage, varieties, errors, and what makes certain 1979 quarters worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

The History of the 1979 Washington Quarter

The Washington quarter was first issued in 1932 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of George Washington‘s birth. It replaced the Standing Liberty quarter. Originally intended as a commemorative coin, the Washington quarter proved so popular that it has remained in circulation ever since.

1979 was a pivotal year in the Washington quarter series. It was the final year that only the Denver and San Francisco mints produced quarters. The following year in 1980, the Philadelphia mint began striking quarters with the "P" mint mark for the first time.

Another important development occurred 14 years earlier in 1965, when the composition of the quarter changed. From 1932 to 1964, quarters were made of 90% silver. But due to rising silver prices, the Mint switched to a copper-nickel clad composition starting in 1965. 1979 quarters are copper-nickel clad.

1979 Quarter Mintage Figures

Let‘s look at how many 1979 quarters were produced at each U.S. Mint facility:

Philadelphia Mint (no mint mark): 518,708,000
Denver Mint (D mint mark): 489,789,780
San Francisco Mint (S mint mark; proof): 3,677,175

As you can see, over 1 billion quarters were struck for circulation in 1979 between Philadelphia and Denver. The San Francisco Mint made over 3.6 million proof quarters. Proof coins have specially polished dies and planchets and are made for collectors rather than circulation.

1979 Quarter Specifications

Here are the key details and specifications for a 1979 Washington quarter:

Denomination: 25 cents
Composition: Outer layers of 75% copper, 25% nickel; inner core of pure copper
Total weight: 5.67 grams
Diameter: 24.3 mm
Edge: Reeded with 119 reeds
Mints: Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco (proofs only)

The copper-nickel clad quarters of 1979 will not attract a magnet, unlike the silver quarters from 1964 and earlier. A simple magnet test can help you distinguish between silver and clad.

Types of 1979 Quarters to Collect

There are a few different types or varieties of 1979 Washington quarters for collectors to seek out:

1979 P (Philadelphia) – No mint mark. Common in circulated grades but valuable in high Mint State grades like MS67 and up.

1979 D (Denver) – The second most common variety after Philly. Gem examples graded MS66/67 command a premium.

1979 S Type 1 Proof – Clear S mint mark. Valuable in perfect PR70DCAM condition.

1979 S Type 2 Proof – Filled S mint mark. Scarcer than Type 1. High-grade PR69/70DCAM examples are worth a substantial sum.

1979 Silver (Transitional) – A few 1979 quarters were mistakenly struck on leftover silver planchets. Only about a dozen are known and are extremely rare and valuable.

Fascinating 1979 Quarter Errors and Varieties

Some of the most desirable 1979 quarters are error coins or varieties. Certain types of mistakes during the minting process can produce rare and valuable coins. Here are some notable error varieties to look for:

1979 Triple Struck – The coin was struck by the dies three times instead of just once. Multiple strikes can produce an off-center, multi-layered effect. Prices for a triple struck 1979 quarter can exceed $400 in Mint State.

1979 Broadstruck/No Ridges – A broadstruck coin is struck without the restraining collar die, resulting in a wide, flat planchet with no ridges/reeding on the edge. These mint errors are popular with collectors.

1979 Obverse Struck Through – An obstruction, like a staple or thread, between the die and planchet can leave an impression on the coin. Struck through errors on the obverse (Washington‘s head side) add character and value.

1979 Double Curved Clip – When part of the coin is clipped or missing in a curved shape, it‘s called a clipped planchet error. A double clip with two curved cuts is scarce and valued by mint error collectors.

1979 D Triple Punched Mintmark – The D mintmark was punched into the die multiple times at slightly different angles/positions. The result is a messy, overlapping mintmark. Also called a D/D/D MPM.

1979 S Type 1/Type 2 Proof – The two varieties of 1979 proof quarter from San Francisco are distinguished by the style of mintmark. Type 1 has a clear, well-defined S, while Type 2 has a filled or blob-like S. Type 2 is scarcer.

Grading and Condition Are Key to Value

As with most coins, the condition and grade of a 1979 quarter play a huge role in its value. In circulated grades like Good or Fine, even key dates are worth little more than face value. But in pristine uncirculated condition, 1979 quarters can be worth substantial premiums over face.

For a 1979 quarter to qualify as Mint State, it must show no signs of wear. Even the slightest bit of friction on the high points will determine circulated vs. uncirculated. Within the Mint State grade, a point scale from MS60 to MS70 is used to precisely grade a coin‘s condition. Numerical grades are assigned by certification services like PCGS and NGC.

A coin graded MS60 will have many heavy marks and blemishes but no wear. At the other end, a "perfect" MS70 coin will have pristine surfaces, exceptional eye appeal and no post-production imperfections visible under 5x magnification. Higher mint state grades mean higher prices.

For proof coins, the grading scale goes from PR60 to PR70, with a similar level of scrutiny and qualifiers. Many proof coins are also designated Cameo or Deep Cameo for having frosted devices and lettering that contrast with the mirror-like fields.

1979 Quarter Value and Price Guide

With so many subtle factors affecting value, what are 1979 quarters actually worth on the coin market today? Here‘s a price guide to give you an idea of high-end 1979 quarter values:

Common 1979 P or D Quarter MS65 – $5 to $15
1979 P Quarter MS68 – $1,400+
1979 D Quarter MS67 – $400+
1979 S Type 1 Proof PR70DCAM – $400+
1979 S Type 2 Proof PR70DCAM – $550+
1979 Quarter Struck on Nickel Planchet MS66 – $600+
1979 Quarter Double Curved Clip MS65 – $500+
1979 Quarter Triple Struck 40% Off-Center MS66 – $400+
1979 D Quarter 3x Punched Mintmark XF40 – $175+

As you can see, the most valuable 1979 quarters are finest known examples, rare errors/varieties, and high-grade proofs. With a sharp eye and some luck, you may be able to cherry pick a valuable 1979 quarter from circulation or dealer inventory.

Tips for Buying and Selling 1979 Quarters

Now that you know what to look for, here are some tips for buying and selling 1979 Washington quarters:

  • Focus on certified coins in PCGS and NGC holders to avoid counterfeits or overgrading
  • Use a 5x magnifying glass or loupe to examine coins for marks, luster, and errors
  • Check coin dealer buy/sell lists and auction prices to determine fair market value
  • Be patient when selling and work with reputable dealers/auctioneers to get the best price
  • Store coins properly in non-PVC flips or inert plastic holders to avoid damage
  • Consider holding key dates and highest grades as a long-term investment

Whether buying or selling, research and networking within the numismatic community is essential. Attend coin shows, join collector clubs, and immerse yourself in the world of coins to gain knowledge and contacts.

Investment Potential of 1979 Quarters

Like any collectible, the future value of 1979 quarters is uncertain and depends on supply and demand. That said, the highest graded regular issues and most dramatic errors have historically been a store of value and appreciated over time.

Registry set collectors aiming to build top sets of Washington quarters will pay strong premiums for superb gems and finest knowns. Mint errors and varieties have their own niche following. And the key 1979 transitional silver quarters are trophy coins for serious collectors.

Overall, 1979 quarters are an accessible series to collect but also contain enough rarities to keep things exciting for even the most advanced numismatists. Building a complete 1979 quarter set with all mintmarks and varieties would be a worthy challenge with considerable upside potential.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What makes a 1979 quarter rare?
A: 1979 quarters can be rare based on high grade, errors/varieties, or an unusual composition like silver.

Q: How much silver is in a 1979 quarter?
A: There is no silver in a regular 1979 Washington quarter. However, a few very rare transitional errors from 1979 were struck on 90% silver planchets leftover from 1964.

Q: What is the most valuable 1979 quarter?
A: The most valuable 1979 quarters are the transitional silver errors struck on 90% silver planchets. Only about a dozen are known to exist and they can sell for over $10,000.

Q: Is a 1979 quarter worth anything?
A: In circulated condition, a 1979 quarter is only worth face value of $0.25. But uncirculated examples in MS67 or higher grade can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Mint errors and varieties also have significant value.

Q: Where is the mint mark on a 1979 quarter?
A: On a 1979 quarter, the mint mark is located on the reverse (tails side) below the eagle‘s tail feathers. Philadelphia coins have no mint mark, while Denver coins have a "D" and San Francisco proofs have an "S".

In summary, 1979 quarters are an exciting series with a lot to offer both novice and experienced collectors. By understanding the history, varieties, and factors affecting value, you‘ll be well-positioned to appreciate these coins and maybe even discover a rare gem in pocket change. Whether you‘re collecting for fun or investment, 1979 quarters are sure to enrich your numismatic journey. Happy collecting!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.