Where is the mint mark on a 1974 quarter? If you have a 1974 quarter and you want to know where the mint mark is located, you’ve come to the right place. As an experienced coin collector, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to find the mint mark on your 1974 Washington quarter.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: The mint mark on the 1974 quarters is located on the obverse (front) side of the coin, near the bottom on the left side, right below the letters “In God We Trust”.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll cover the history of mint marks, provide images of where mint marks are located, explain what the different mint marks signify, and even help you determine your coin’s value based on its mint mark.
What is a Mint Mark?
Definition and Purpose of a Mint Mark
A mint mark is a small letter or symbol that is stamped onto a coin to indicate at which United States mint facility the coin was manufactured. Mint marks help distinguish between coins made at different mints in years when more than one mint was in operation.
For example, a coin with a small “D” indicates it was struck at the Denver Mint, while a “P” represents the Philadelphia Mint. Other mint marks include “S” for San Francisco, “W” for West Point, and “CC” for the Carson City Mint.
The main purposes of mint marks are to:
- Identify the mint facility where a coin was made
- Assist in determining a coin’s rarity and value
- Aid in the study of coin circulation patterns
Many mint marks also carry a collector premium, meaning coins with certain mint marks are worth more to collectors and investors than identical coins missing that mint mark.
Brief History of US Mint Marks
The United States did not start using mint marks until 1838 when the New Orleans mint opened. The “O” mint mark was stamped on coins made there to differentiate them from Philadelphia Mint coins.
Other famous mint marks emerged in later years:
- Carson City (CC) – 1870 to 1893
- San Francisco (S) – 1854 to 1955, 1968 to date
- West Point (W) – 1984 to date
- Denver (D) – began in 1906
While Philadelphia did not use a mint mark for most of its history, since 1980 most coins struck there carry the “P” mark. However, the 1974 quarter mentioned would not have carried a Philly mint mark.
Mint Mark Locations on US Coins
Typical Location of Mint Marks
Mint marks have been placed on United States coins since the early 1800s to indicate at which mint facility the coins were struck. Up until the mid-20th century, mint marks were typically found on the reverse (back) of coins near the bottom.
For example, earlier Lincoln cents minted in the 1940s bear a small “D” for the Denver mint or “S” for the San Francisco mint on the back below the wheat stalks design.
However, as coin designs started changing more frequently, the placement of mint marks also began to move around. Modern mint marks may now be found on either the obverse (front) or reverse of circulating coins depending on the specific design.
Mint Mark Locations on Quarters Specifically
Looking just at United States quarter dollars, the mint mark locations have changed several times over the years with each new design:
- On earlier Standing Liberty (1916-1930) and Washington (1932-1998) quarter designs, the mint mark is found on the obverse placed on the left side of the Liberty or behind Washington’s neck.
- On 50 State Quarters (1999-2008), the mint mark moved to the obverse below the year date.
- On District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters (2009), the mint mark moved again to the reverse near the top below “United States of America.”
- On America the Beautiful Quarters (2010-present), the mint mark is back on the obverse below the year and Liberty’s mouth.
This movement of mint marks over the years can make it tricky to locate them sometimes. So when in doubt, be sure to check both sides carefully using a magnifying glass or coin microscope to spot that tiny mint letter!
1974 Quarter Mint Marks
No Mint Mark (Philadelphia Mint)
The 1974 quarters without a mint mark were produced at the Philadelphia Mint. As the main facility, the Philadelphia Mint strikes coins to fulfill general circulation needs without a specific mint mark. In 1974, most quarters entered circulation from Philadelphia.
Numismatists estimate that around 801,456,000 quarters were minted in Philadelphia that year to meet demand.
Since 1792, the Philadelphia Mint has been integral to U.S. coin production. As coins wear down, determining if a 1974 quarter originated from Philadelphia becomes challenging without a mint mark. Clues to identify these include wear on design details like the building columns or Washington’s hair.
D Mint Mark (Denver Mint)
The 1974-D quarter with a D mint mark was struck at the Denver facility. Approximately 353,160,300 quarters were minted in Denver that year, significantly less than in Philadelphia. Denver opened in 1906 due to the western states’ demand for circulating coinage.
The 1974-D quarter has consumer interest in the collection. In mint state conditions, its value ranges from $2 to $75 depending on grade ratings. Circulated 1974-D quarters average under $2 but are still enjoyable finds with numismatic history behind their Denver origin.
The key is checking the coin’s reverse for the D mark stamped below Washington’s ponytail.
S Mint Mark (San Francisco Mint)
The San Francisco mint produced quarters stamped with an S mint mark in 1974. Hobbyists especially treasure these since San Francisco did not make quarters for circulation from 1955 to 1974. Approximately 2,612,568 proof quarters struck in San Francisco entered the market through collectors that year.
With far fewer released, finding a 1974-S quarter holds higher value. In pristine proof condition, they are worth around $15. On auction sites, authenticated 1974-S proof specimens sometimes sell for over $200, making a careful examination of any S mint quarter essential.
Determining Your 1974 Quarter’s Value
Condition of Coin
The condition of a 1974 quarter plays a major role in determining its value to collectors. An uncirculated 1974 quarter in pristine mint condition can fetch a premium compared to one that saw heavy circulation.
Key areas that are inspected include the amount of wear on design details, luster, and the presence or lack of marks, scratches, or other damage.
Colloquially referred to as “coin grades,” professional third-party grading services use numeric scales like the PCGS Photograde or NGC standards to assign a 1-70 grade assessing condition. A flawless 1974 quarter would merit the highest “Mint State (MS)” grade of MS-70.
Realistically, well-preserved specimens grade MS-63 to MS-66.
All regular issue 1974 Washington quarters contain copper and nickel, lacking any silver composition. But a small number of error coins and special 40% silver proof versions do contain silver, dramatically increasing value.
While most 1974 quarters have no precious metal value, the few silver examples are worth a minimum of $4-5 in melt value today. Rare silverproof quarters sell for $25-50+ depending on condition and collector demand.
With millions of minted coins, 1974 quarters are plentiful in circulation finds or collector stocks. No key date or variety exists, though gems in top grade are elusive. Sharp-eyed collectors search 1974 coin rolls hoping to discover one mixed in.
Errors and Varieties
On such a large production run, minor hub and die breaks or clashes are known. These create interesting die varieties like doubled lettering or design elements. A small number of dramatic errors also occurred like off-center strikes and double-struck coins.
While no Proof versions were made for circulation, specially packaged 40% silver collector-proof sets remain popular.
|Normal 1974 Quarter Value
|Face value of 25 cents
|MS-65 Grade Coin Value
|$1-2 if perfectly preserved
|Silver Proof Version Value
|$25-50 or more major
|r Mint Errors
|Over $100 in some cases
Where Is The Mint Mark On A 1974 Quarter – Conclusion
Now that you know where to look on your 1974 Washington quarter to find the mint mark, you can use that information to determine where your coin was made. Checking for a mint mark is the first step in assessing your coin’s value and rarity.
Armed with the knowledge in this guide, you can confidently evaluate any 1974 quarter. Feel free to refer back whenever you need a refresher on mint marks. Happy collecting!