By Paul M. Green
Being the third-best Washington quarter in MS-65 is the equivalent of being the third man on the moon, as after the first two, except for your immediate family members, there are not many others who care.
In the case of the Washington quarter, it has historically been the 1932-S and 1932-D show. There are solid reasons for that, as the 1932-D and 1932-S were almost twin dates with mintages of less than 500,000. Back in the 1930s, that was definitely a low mintage.
For decades, no other date came close, with most collecting done from circulation. Even in the 1950s, you could find most Washington quarters in circulation, except for the 1932-D and the 1932-S.
With a mintage of 5,374,000, the 1936-D would not have created much interest. After all, that was not only higher than the 1932-D and 1932-S, it was higher than the 1934-D and the 1955-D.
There were few Washington quarter collectors to even care about the 1932-D and 1932-S ? the Washington quarter was not a heavily collected set.
The denomination itself was certainly part of the problem in generating interest, as right through the final 90-percent-silver Washington quarter, the bulk of the collectors were interested in lower denominations. Even if some were collecting quarters, the Standing Liberty quarter was an equally likely choice, as they were still in circulation.
Another factor was that the Washington quarter was the current quarter and ignored by many who assumed it was common. That is especially true in top grades, as during the entire time the 90-percent silver quarter was in production, grades such as MS-65 were not applied to quarters, but rather only large coppers. As a result, even if there had been interest, it would have simply been in terms of whether a date was circulated or uncirculated.
It has only been recently that anyone seemed to have the slightest interest in Washington quarters such as the 1936-D, and that has probably been inspired at least in part by the introduction of the 50 State Quarters Programs, which so often happens when a design appears to be disappearing, and that appears to be the case with Washington quarters.
With interest has come study and in less than a decade, something extremely unusual has happened to the price of the 1936-D ? it has taken off in MS-65.
We can trace the situation, as back in 1998, the 1934-D ? the third top Washington quarter in MS-65 ? was at $1,125, while the 1936-D was at half the price with a $615 listing in MS-65. In 2003, the 1934-D was $1,450, while the 1936-D was beginning to catch up at $950. Today, the 1934-D is at $1,550, but now the 1936-D is at $1,900. That is a remarkable change in less than a decade.
At the Professional Coin Grading Service, in MS-65 or better, the 1936-D has been seen 95 times, while the 1934-D is over 250. At the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation, the 1936-D has been seen a total of 69 times in MS-65 or better, while the 1934-D is at about 150 in the same grades. The numbers don?t lie. In all probability, it is the 1936-D that is the better date and possibly the tougher one.
This information will not change the situation with the 1932-D and 1932-S, but it still shows that the coin market continues to evolve. As we learn more, prices can change and that is the case with the 1936-D, as we have found that it is a better date and deserves its higher prices.