As pennies, nickels, and dimes seem to be playing less of a direct role in commerce (because prices keep going up, up, up), it appears that the U.S. quarter remains perhaps the most important and the most used coin in our everyday transactions.
Quarters are used in everything from toll booth payments to vending machines. And with only 4 needed to obtain a dollar, they remain among the most convenient coins to use.
Quarters are equally important to coin collectors.
Many numismatists love quarters. After all, not only do they represent a vital part of our economy and commerce, there are also many types (designs) of quarters that our nation has minted — keeping collectors busy and intrigued.
The first United States quarter was released in 1796.
Since then, the quarter has seen several design variations — not including the 50 State Quarters designs, which have been minted since 1999.
The list below includes all the different designs (17) of U.S. quarters since 1796 — except for the state quarters, which includes so many different designs (50) it would require a separate list unto itself!
All 17 U.S. Quarter Design Variations
- Draped Bust with Small Eagle on Reverse 1796
- Draped Bust with Heraldic Eagle on Reverse 1804-1807
- Capped Bust on large quarter (27 mm diameter) 1815-1828
- Capped Bust on small quarter (24.3 mm–current diameter) 1831-1838
- Liberty Seated without Motto Above Eagle 1838-1853
- Liberty Seated with Arrows by the Date and Rays Around Eagle 1853
- Liberty Seated with Arrows by the Date and No Rays Around Eagle 1854-1855, 1875-1891
- Liberty Seated with Motto Above Eagle 1866-1873
- Liberty Seated with Arrows by the Date 1873-1874
- Liberty Head (Barber) 1982-1916
- Standing Liberty, Type I 1916
- Standing Liberty, Type II, High Date 1917-1924
- Standing Liberty, Type II, Recessed Date 1925-1930
- Washington, 90% Silver 1932-1964
- Washington, Copper-Nickel Clad 1965-Present
- Washington, with Bicentennial Commemorative Design 1975-1976 (All dated 1776-1976)
- Washington with 50 State Quarters Designs 1999-2008
The 5 Main Types Of U.S. Quarters To Collect
There are many distinct designs and varieties of U.S. quarters — as listed above.
But suffice it to say that many “type” collectors break down the entire run of quarters to only the following 5 types:
Bust quarters (1796-1838)
Liberty Seated quarters (1838-1891)
Barber quarters (1892-1916)
Standing Liberty quarters (1916-1930)
Washington quarters (1932-present)
When cost becomes a factor, coin collectors have the license to “custom-design” so to speak what they determine to be a “complete collection.”
The abbreviated list above is a common means of minimizing how many coins are needed to “complete” a type set — as all minor design variations are eliminated.
Values for these coins vary widely. I highly recommend you look through a price guide such as that offered by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or in the very comprehensive and educational Guide Book of United States Coins by R.S. Yeoman and Kenneth Bressett.
I put together this video showing some of the rare quarters you can find in pocket change:
My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!