Despite today’s political polarization plaguing the United States, one thing unites us all: the Declaration of Independence, a document signed in 1776 that stated America’s independence from Great Britain’s yoke.

It was a momentous event that turned America from a British empire’s vassal state to a sovereign nation. To pay homage to this epoch-making event, the U.S. mint released the 1776-1976 bicentennial quarter.

Coins that commemorate anniversaries, such as the bicentennial quarter, are known as numismatic coins. These coins can be quite valuable as they are limited in production; in this case, the U.S. minted them for only two years: 1975 and 1976.

The coin’s material is cupronickel, a combination of 75% copper and 25% nickel. On the front side, you can find the iconic portrait of George Washington, with the years 1776-1976 etched beneath it. The design is unique on the reverse side, featuring a Colonial drummer symbolizing the first fight for independence. In front of the drummer, the flame of liberty burns, surrounded by 13 stars, each representing one of the original colonies.

This article will explore what makes the 1776-1976 bicentennial quarter so special, how much it’s worth today, and where you can find one for yourself.

The History of the 1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarter

The History Of The 1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarter

The 1776-1976 bicentennial quarter’s history is less exciting than you would expect from that of a coin that commemorates America’s fight for independence. The coin is part of the George Washington series, which the mint coined from 1932 until 1998. It kept the original front side design with George’s Washington portal — only adding the dates. The U.S. mint changed the reverse, from the iconic eagle perched on a flurry of arrows and an olive branch to the Colonial drummer staring at the flame of liberty.

The U.S. minted the bicentennial quarter for two years: 1975 and 1976. This commemorative coin also exists in proof form as a testament to how important it was for the U.S. government to celebrate independence.

Proof coins have a higher value, as they have better quality thanks to their minting with different dies.

For a coin that is so special, it didn’t receive the expected welcome. 1976 was a rough economic time, with America starting to recover from a terrible recession caused by the OPEC oil embargo. Inflation and unemployment were at their peak, and the government took all possible measures to reduce spending. As such, the demand for new coins was low.

All of the above means that the 1776-1976 bicentennial quarter is a rarer coin than many others. Its low demand, combined with the fact it saw minting for only two years, contributes to its scarcity.

The Value of 1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarters

The Value Of 1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarters

Knowledge is power. Or, at the very least, it is helpful. In the case of coin collecting, knowledge helps us in two ways:

  1. It helps us spot fakes.
  2. It helps us determine the value of the coin.

You don’t need to be an expert appraiser to spot a fake. Most fakes are far from the real thing; if you know where to look, you’ll find flaws in shape, size, or color that will point you in the right direction.

When it comes to determining value, many factors come into play. Here they are:

  • Rarity: Supply and demand rule the roost here. The rarer a coin, the more valuable it is. That’s why coins with notable minting errors are so valuable: they are rarer than regular coins.
  • Condition: Condition and rarity go hand in hand. Most coins degrade throughout the years. Coins in good condition are rarer than the ones in poor condition, as coins were (and still are) an everyday medium of exchange. As such, most coins passed lots of hands, saw lots of wallets, and got tossed in many fountains.
  • Aesthetic: Coins have more value if they look good. Looks are related to the condition but are more subjective. For example, a coin with a lovely luster on its surface will be more valuable because it looks better than a dull one. It’s hard to quantify this aesthetic value, but it exists.
  • Minting errors: Errors during minting create coins with different shapes or sizes than the standard. Because of their uniqueness, these can have a much higher value than regular coins. We’ll see the most typical minting errors of the bicentennial quarter later.

You will need two things to assess a coin’s conditions: a magnifying glass and a grading chart. First, you should examine the coin with the magnifying glass — noting any stains, marks, or dents. Then, compare your observations with a grading chart to determine their condition. That will give you an idea of the coin’s grade, which will help you determine its value.

Here’s an in-depth video that talks about the value of the 1776-1976 bicentennial quarters in detail:

Next, we will look at the market value of these coins, so you can get a better idea of how much you can get for your bicentennial quarter.

You can buy old coins in three main avenues: online marketplaces, auctions, and brick-and-mortar coin dealers.

  • Online marketplaces: These can be a good option if you need more time to search for the coin in person. You will likely find listings, and some sellers may also accept offers. However, buying online is not without risks, so read reviews about a seller before you make a purchase.
  • Auctions: Auctions are the best way to find rare coins in good condition, especially if you’re looking for something specific. You can also set a maximum bid and let the bidding wars begin! Just be careful not to get too carried away.
  • Brick-and-mortar coin dealers: Finding a bicentennial quarter is tricky, but these dealers may have them in stock. These stores usually have experts who can help you determine the condition and value of a specific coin.

Let’s now see how much you can expect to pay for a bicentennial quarter based on its conditions.

Editor’s note: A few versions of the coins haven’t been sold in recent years. These are:

  • Washington Quarter, 1976-S (1975) Clad PR
  • Washington Quarter, 1976 (1975) Clad MS

Thus, you will not see any of these coins mentioned in our buying guide. Additionally, there are no known sales of coins of grades lower than AU50, so that’s where our price list will begin.

Let’s now see how much you can expect to pay for a bicentennial quarter.

1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarter – About Uncirculated (Grades 50 to 58+)

About uncirculated grade coins have some minor wear, but the details are still visible. We’re including the NG0 (Not graded) coins to this category for simplicity.

Here are some examples of these coins’s price:

There are bicentennial quarters for all budgets, provided you’re willing to settle for a coin with some wear.

1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarter – Uncirculated to Select Uncirculated (Grades 60 to 63)

Coins with grades from 60 to 63 have few to no signs of wear and their details are still sharp. However, they have some microscopic imperfections that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

Here are some examples of these coins’s price:

Fun fact: No Washington Quarter, 1976-S Silver MS 25C have been sold in this category.

1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarter – Choice & Gem Uncirculated (64 to 66)

The very rare coins with grades 64, 65, and 66 are the choice and gem uncirculated ones. They have no wear and their details are sharp, with very few imperfections visible only under magnification.

Ironically, this is the most common state for the bicentennial quarters, which means there are lots more on the market, with most of them being cheaper than coins in poorer conditions.

Here are some examples of these coins’s price:

There is one coin from this category that went for much more: this MS65-D quarter went for a whopping $3,246.

Here is also where we find the first sales of proof coins. Here are some:

There is also one gradeless proof coin that went for $6,038, here it is.

1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarter – Superb & Perfect Uncirculated (Grades 67 to 70)

These coins are close to perfect, with some being actually so. They have no visible wear and their details are pristine even under the most powerful magnifier.

Here are some examples of these coins’s price:

We also find a few quarters in this category that sold for thousands of dollars:

The record sale belongs to this MS69-S quarter that sold for a jaw-dropping $19,200.

Moving to proof coins, here are some pricing examples:

The heaviest hitters in this category go for a few thousand dollars:

One thing that comes to mind by looking at this list is that silver coins are more valuable than their clad counterparts. This can be seen in the fact that none of the clad coins sold for more than $1,000 while many silver ones did.

1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarters Minting Errors

1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarters Minting Errors

Minting errors increase a coin’s rarity. They can range from minor to major and make a coin worth much more than its counterparts.

Each coin series has unique minting errors; here are the most common ones you’ll find in bicentennial quarters:

  • Struck through grease error on the drummer: Some bicentennial quarters feature a small grease stain on the drummer’s arm. It happens when the minting press hits through grease or oil residue left on the die. Coins with severe errors in this area can be worth hundreds of dollars.
  • Off-center strike: These coins were not adequately centered when struck and had part of their design cut off. These coins usually have a very low mintage and can be worth hundreds of dollars, depending on the severity of the error.
  • Doubled die: This is a type of minting error where parts of the design are doubled up during striking. It’s pretty rare and can cause some elements to look slightly blurry or doubled.
  • Obverse die cap: This error occurs when a coin stays in the die for too long, causing the press to push the metal into a dome shape. Coins with this error usually also have an off-center strike.

Keep an eye our for these errors, as some people might not realize that they increase a coin’s value, not lower it.

Wrapping Up

The 1776-1976 Bicentennial Quarters have tangible value for coin collectors, both for their history and scarcity, especially in higher grades. Prices range from a few dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the condition and errors present.

They are less valuable than other coins from the same period, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth collecting. Since they celebrate such a crucial part of America’s history, they are worth preserving and honoring.

If you’re new to the hobby, these coins offer an affordable entry point with plenty of potentials. One thing that makes these coins great is that they work fine for inexperienced collectors.

If you’re looking to add this valuable piece of American history to your collection, start searching and make sure to take a look at both clad and silver coins for maximum value. And when in doubt, consult an appraiser to certify a coin’s value and authenticity.

Happy collecting!

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