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Quarter prices part ways in higher grades

Item1106a.jpgThe 1932-S Washington quarter has been thought of as half of a pair of twin key dates for a long time. The 1932-S and 1932-D were clearly the top dates. For decades the two were basically priced at the same levels in most grades.

There has been a definite increase in interest in Washington quarters. More study of the 1932-S and 1932-D has resulted in the 1932-S falling further and further behind the 1932-D in price in
top grades.

The 1932-S had a slightly lower mintage of 408,000, while the 1932-D was 436,800. This is unusual since they were produced at the same time under basically the same circumstances.

Item1106b.jpgThe first examples of a new design are usually saved in slightly greater numbers than the following years. There is nothing new about that. The first release of the 1932 Washington quarter, however, may be slightly different. There was some confusion over whether the new Washington quarter was a regular quarter or a commemorative. This uncertainty was not helped when there were no mintages in 1933.

The real issue was the economy. The quarter was a higher denomination than many would have collected at the time. The Great Depression would have made it even less likely that anyone was going to save quarters.

Maybe things were a little better around San Francisco than they were around Denver, or maybe there were more San Francisco area collectors. We are not really sure. There have been a few accumulations, and for some reason the majority are almost always the 1932-S.

The 1932-S is not common. In 1998 it was $290 in MS-60 and $2,250 in MS-65, while the 1932-D was $490 in MS-60 and $5,400 in MS-65. Today the 1932-S is at $500 in MS-60 and $7,000 in MS-65. Those are not bad price increases over time, but today the 1932-D is $1,000 in MS-60 and $24,500 in MS-65.

The two dates? prices really part ways in grades above VF-20 where they are still just $20 apart. Numismatic Guaranty Corporation reports 46 examples of the 1932-S in MS-65 and five more in MS-66, but only 16 examples of the 1932-D in MS-65 and none better. Professional Coin Grading Service reports a total of 54 examples of the 1932-D in MS-65 and one in MS-66, while the 1932-S total in MS-65 is 71 with four more in MS-66.

There may be some reason to question whether the big price differences seen today are justified, but there is no question that the 1932-S is more available than the 1932-D in MS-65. While the 1932-S and 1932-D are basically twins in lower grades, the 1932-S will definitely have to take a back seat to the 1932-D in top grades. Even though it?s not as tough as the 1932-D, the 1932-S is still one of the best Washington quarters in any grade.

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