What is a 1965 quarter made of? The 1965 quarter is a fascinating piece of American history, symbolizing the quarter century since the first Washington quarter was minted in 1932. If you’re wondering exactly what metals went into forging this iconic coin, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: 1965 quarters contain copper and nickel, with no silver content. Specifically, they are made of an alloy that is 91.6% copper and 8.3% nickel.

1965 Marked the End of Silver Content in Quarters

Transition From 90% Silver Quarters

Up until 1964, quarters minted in the United States contained 90% silver. This changed in 1965 when silver was eliminated from circulating coinage-like quarters in favor of lower-cost copper-nickel clads. This marked the end of an era for silver coins in America.

From the early 1800s up through 1964, most regular issue U.S. quarters contained 90% silver and 10% copper. These silver quarters remained in production for over 160 years. However, rising silver prices in the 1950s and early 1960s made the intrinsic value of these coins higher than their face value.

This caused silver coin shortages, as people hoarded the old 90% silver quarters when silver bullion prices exceeded $1.29 per troy ounce (the melt value). By 1964, the situation had reached crisis levels, and the U.S. Mint and Congress knew something had to change to keep quarters in circulation.

Reasons for Eliminating Silver

There were a few key reasons why the 90% silver content in quarters ended in 1965:

  • Rising silver prices – As mentioned, surging silver bullion values encouraged silver coin hoarding. This severely depleted quarter supplies.
  • Coin shortages – The Fed estimated over 50% of silver coins vanished from circulation by 1964. Banks experienced coin shortages and couldn’t meet demand for quarters in commerce.
  • Cost cutting – U.S. Mint production costs were high striking silver quarters. Cheaper-to-produce alternatives were available.

In response, Congressional legislators passed the Coinage Act of 1965. This eliminated silver from dimes and quarters starting in 1965 and shifted production to a new copper-nickel-clad composition.

90% Silver Quarters Copper-Nickel Clad Quarters


90% silver, 10% copper Outer layers: 75% copper, 25% nickel
Inner core: 100% copper
Last year minted: 1964 First-year minted: 1965

The transition away from silver quarters wasn’t without controversy. Some criticized the move, seeing it as currency debasement by removing precious metals. However, the change was necessary to get quarters flowing again and curb the coin shortage crisis.

Most modern quarters today have no silver content now that copper-nickel clads fully replaced the old 90% silver versions in 1965. But many Americans still fondly remember finding those last silver quarters in change many years ago.

Current Metallic Composition

91.6% Copper

The 1965 quarter is composed of 91.6% copper. This proportion of copper gives the quarter a reddish-orange tinge and provides significant durability.

Pure copper is relatively soft, but when alloyed with other metals like nickel, it becomes much more rigid and resistant to wear.

Copper has been a component of United States coinage since the first US one-cent pieces were produced in 1793. The unique reddish appearance provided by the high copper content allows people to easily identify and distinguish quarters from other coins.

The color also makes the quarter more difficult to counterfeit. So the copper gives the 1965 quarter both strength and a unique, iconic appearance.

8.3% Nickel

The other component of the 1965 quarter’s composition is 8.3% nickel. Nickel provides additional hardness and durability to complement the copper. This one-quarter proportion of nickel helps the quarter resist corrosion and maintain its metallic shine even with heavy circulation and use over many decades.

While pure nickel coins can sometimes trigger nickel allergies, the 1965 quarter’s mix of mostly copper significantly lowers this risk. Overall, the 25% nickel works perfectly with the 75% copper to create quarters that can remain in circulation for extended periods of time without substantial wear or replacement.

Differences From Pre-1965 Quarters

Heavier Weight

Pre-1965 quarters were made with 90% silver and 10% copper, giving them a heavier weight than modern clad quarters. The silver quarters weighed 6.25 grams, compared to 5.67 grams for current cupronickel-clad quarters – nearly a 10% difference in heft.

Collectors often comment on the noticeable increase in weight when handling the older 90% silver quarters. The silver gives the coins a sense of history and intrinsic value that clad quarters lack. This thickness and density reflect their precious metal content.

Magnetic Properties

The copper-nickel-clad composition of modern quarters makes them magnetic. A neodymium rare earth magnet will stick strongly to post-1965 quarters but not to the 90% silver pre-1965 versions. This is a quick way for collectors to verify the age and composition of quarters.

Silver is not magnetic, while the copper core of clad quarters contains enough iron and nickel to be attracted to magnets. The non-magnetic trait of silver quarters assists with authentication and identification.

By testing quarters with a simple refrigerator magnet, collectors can single out silver coins for closer inspection.

Identifying a 1965 Quarter

A 1965 quarter is a United States coin minted in 1965. There are a few key features to look for when identifying a 1965 quarter:

Date and Design

Quarters minted in 1965 feature the same design as other Washington quarters of the era: President George Washington’s image on the front, or “obverse” side, and an eagle symbol on the back, or “reverse” side. Underneath Washington will be the word “LIBERTY” and the date “1965”.

If there is no date or a different date, it is not a 1965 quarter.

Mint Marks

1965 quarters may have a mint mark indicating which US mint facility the coin was produced at. Possible mint marks are:

  • No mint mark – Philadelphia mint
  • D – Denver mint
  • S – San Francisco mint

The mint mark will be located near the eagle on the reverse of the coin.


All 1965 quarters are composed of 90% silver and 10% copper. This gives the coin a distinct silver hue. Authentic 1965 quarters also have a particular weight and sound due to the precious metal composition.

Condition and Value

The condition of a 1965 quarter determines its collectible value. While even very worn 1965 quarters have some value due to the silver content, uncirculated coins in pristine condition with no wear or damage are worth a premium. The value also depends on factors like mintage and mint mark:

Condition Average Value
Very Good $3 to $4
Extremely Fine $5 to $8
Uncirculated $10 to $15+

As with all collectible coins, errors and low mintage make certain 1965 quarter variations much more valuable. But any 1965 quarter has at minimum a melt value in silver.

Numismatic Value

1965 was a pivotal year in US coinage history. It marked the transition from silver coins to copper-nickel-clad coins. As such, 1965 quarter dollars have gained numismatic interest and value among coin collectors and investors.

According to the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), an uncirculated 1965 quarter can be worth $8-15 depending on the grade. Higher-graded specimens in MS-65 condition can sell for around $25-35. Proof versions, with their mirror-like surfaces, command even more – perhaps $40-60 in PR-65 grade.

Key Dates

Within the series of 1965 Washington quarters, two particular varieties draw keen collector attention and higher values:

  • 1965 SMS – The Special Mint Set quarters of 1965 had specially prepared planchets and high relief. Only 2.5 million were made, giving them scarcity. In the PR-67 grade, they can sell for over $500.
  • 1965 Doubled Die Obverse – This rare doubled die error can exhibit a strong doubling of the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” and of Washington’s profile. In uncirculated grades, it trades for $2,000-3,000+.

Silver Content

1965 marked the last year of 90% silver quarters. So collectors and investors also value the silver content within these coins. The melt value of a common 90% silver 1965 Washington quarter is currently around $4.23.

Later clad versions with outer copper-nickel layers contain no silver. So silver quarters from 1964 and earlier are generally more desired by bullion collectors.

Long-Term Investment Potential

As the transitional date between silver and clad coinage, the 1965 quarters present strong long-term potential. As an ending date for 90% silver coins and the first year of clads, 1965 represents an important milestone for the Washington Quarter series.

As time passes, even common uncirculated examples in MS-60 through MS-64 grades may continue gaining collector interest and value due to their historic status. Record prices for all US coin series were set repeatedly in 2022.

If market conditions remain strong, 1965 quarters have much room to advance further in the coming years.

What Is A 1965 Quarter Made Of – Conclusion

We’ve covered the key details on the metallic make-up of the 1965 quarter – an intriguing transitional piece between the classic 90% silver quarters and the copper-nickel quarters of today. With its unique history and distinct properties, the 1965 quarter remains popular among coin collectors and history enthusiasts alike.

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