What are State Quarters Worth?
I'll lead this one off with a story. I used to work at a coin shop. We'll call it Coin Land from here on out. Whenever I refer to a place I've worked, I take its general theme and tack 'Land' onto the end, making it an amusement park. Life's more fun that way.
One day in Coin Land, a man came in, excited about something he found. He said it was a silver coin from 1836, and wanted to know what it was worth.
I was no numismatic expert, but what he was holding was an Arkansas State Quarter. The way he was holding it, his thumb covered the '2003' date at the bottom. I held it in a way that covered the '1836' part and showed it to him. I explained that it's a state quarter from 2003, and the excitement in his eyes quickly washed away. Another day, another dream dashed.
At some point while metal detecting, you will run into at least one state quarter. There were more than 34 billion state quarters released into circulation, making them quite common. However, there are certain varieties of these 50 state quarters that are worth much more than 25 cents. Read on to find out more.
About the 50 State Quarters Program
From 1999 - 2009, the United States Mint released a series of 50 commemorative quarters. The reverse (back) side of each quarter featured a unique design for each U.S. state. A new coin was released every ten weeks, in order of the date that the states joined the Union. The Mint estimates that more than 140 million people (that's about 40% of the population of the U.S.) collected the 50 State Quarters series, making it the most successful coin collecting program in U.S. history.
Types of 50 State Quarters
There are four types of state quarters that you may find. These include Circulated state quarters, Uncirculated state quarters, Clad Proof quarters, and Silver Proof quarters.
Circulated State Quarters
The most common type of the 50 state quarters that you'll find are the circulated variety. These went into general circulation, and are likely still circulating to this day. Look in your change, and you'll find at least one of them.
Unfortunately, this means that most of the circulated state quarters you find (with two exceptions in the next section) are only worth 25 cents. But wait, there's hope!
Uncirculated State Quarters
The next level up in value are Uncirculated State Quarters. They were made for circulation, but were either snatched up by collectors or sat untouched in a bank roll. They're pristine and near perfect.
You're unlikely to find this kind of quarters with a metal detector, but there's a whole world out there to discover. Someone might have buried a box full of bank wrapped state quarters in their yard, and another someone (it could be you) found them.
The good news is that they're worth more than a quarter. The bad news is that, with two exceptions, they're worth about $1. But that's still four times face value.
What are the exceptions?
Glad you asked. A 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter has three varieties. The "D" after the year means that it's from the Denver Mint. The regular type is worth one dollar. The other kinds are the 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter with Extra Leaf (Low) and 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter with Extra Leaf (High).
In the image below, you can see the difference. A regular Wisconsin State Quarter (Denver Mint) has no leaf between the corn cob and wheel of cheese. The Extra Leaf varieties do have a leaf there, albeit in different places. The Extra Leaf (Low) is closer to the cheese, and the Extra Leaf (High) is closer to the corn.
So what's it worth?
Blue Book value on an uncirculated 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter with Extra Leaf (Low) is about $38-145 if you're selling. The real-world (eBay) value is between $30 - $125 depending on condition. And if it's been certified by one of the big three coin grading services, PCGS, NGC, or ANACS. If its not certified, you'll be on the lower end of that range.
Book value on the Extra Leaf (High) variety is $50 to $175 if you're looking to sell. Real-world (eBay) value is between $45 - $165 if the coin is certified. If the coin is not certified, you'll be between $25 - $75.
Proof State Quarters
Each year, the U.S. Mint releases a Proof Set of that year's coins for collectors. Proof coins are struck multiple times in a special process. This process leaves the coins with crisp, sharply-defined features and a mirror-like surface that's called a Cameo finish. All proof state quarters have the "S" mint-mark because they were made at the San Francisco Mint.
Clad Proof State Quarters
Clad Proof State Quarters were released as part of annual proof sets from 1999-2008. They were also in special five-coin proof sets containing the quarters released during each year of the series. Clad Proof State Quarters are 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel, and have a real-world value of about $1.75 each.
Silver Proof State Quarters
Along with the Clad Proof State Quarters, the U.S. Mint also released Silver Proof State Quarters. Each year, these come in silver proof sets and five-coin silver quarter proof sets. These coins are 90% silver and 10% copper, which means that their value is mostly tied to the value of their silver content. As of December 2020, silver is trading at $25 an ounce. You can check the current spot price here.
Is there anything else to look for?
There's an error coin. The 2001-P (Philadelphia Mint) Double Struck New York State Quarter is worth about $2. It has a doubled effect on both Washington's head and the "United States of America" lettering on the obverse side. This is because it was struck twice by the die.
About the Author
Gary Iverson is a staff writer at Metro Metal Detectors covering all things metal and metal-adjacent.