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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,  because whenever I refer to anywhere I've worked, I take the general theme of the place and tack 'Land' onto the end, turning into an amusement park—life's more fun that way.

One day in Coin Land, a man came in, clearly excited about something. He said he found a silver coin from 1836, and wanted to know what it was worth.

Now 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 while explaining that it's a state quarter from 2003, and the excitement in his eyes quickly turned to disappointment. 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 fairly common. However, there are a couple instances in which certain varieties of the 50 state quarters are worth much more than face value. 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 once every ten weeks, ordered by the date that the states were admitted to the Union. The Mint estimates that more than 140 million people (that's about half 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, which includes (and is limited to) 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: the ones that were minted to go into general circulation and are still circulating to this day. Look in your change, and you'll likely find several of them. Unfortunately, this means that most of the circulated state quarters you find (with the 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 are the sort that were made for circulation, but were either snatched up by collectors or otherwise sat untouched in a bank roll. They're pristine and near perfect. Realistically, you're not likely to find uncirculated quarters with a metal detector, but you never know what's 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 still, that's four times face value.

What are the exceptions?

Glad you asked. The 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter has three varieties. The regular one is worth one dollar. The other two are the 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter with Extra Leaf (Low) and 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter with Extra Leaf (High) varieties.

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, whereas 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.

2004-D Washington State Quarter

So what's it worth?

Book value on an uncirculated 2004-D Wisconsin State Quarter with Extra Leaf (Low) is about $80 if you're selling, while the real-world (eBay) value is between $25 - $140 depending on condition and whether 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 $110 if you're looking to sell one. Real-world (eBay) value is between $80 - $120 if the coin is certified. If its not certified, you'll be between $25 - $80.

Proof State Quarters

Each year, the U.S. Mint releases a Proof Set of that year's coinage for collectors. Proof coins are struck multiple times in a special process that 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 produced at the San Fransisco Mint.

Clad Proof State Quarters

The Clad Proof State Quarters were released both as a part of the annual proof sets from 1999-2008, as well as in special five-coin proof sets containing the state quarters released during each year of the series. Clad Proof State Quarters are composed of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel, and have a real-world value of about $1.50 each.

Silver Proof State Quarters

Along with the Clad Proof State Quarters, the U.S. Mint also released Silver Proof State Quarters in their own series of annual silver proof sets and five-coin silver quarter proof sets. These coins are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper, which means that their value is mostly tied to the value of their silver content.

Anything else to look for?

There's an error. The 2001-P Double Struck New York State Quarter is worth about $2. It has a doubled effect on Washington's head and the "United States of America" lettering on the obverse side because it was struck twice by the die.

And that concludes this edition of What's It Worth. Next time, we'll be talking about Buffalo Nickels.