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The Hunt for Valuable Modern Quarters: 1999 to Today

When most people think of rare and valuable quarters, classic key dates like the 1916 Standing Liberty and 1932-S Washington jump to mind. But what about more recent quarters from 1999 onward – are any of these modern issues worth big bucks? You might be surprised to learn the answer is a resounding yes!

While it‘s true that the majority of quarters jingling around in your pocket change are worth merely face value, a select group of modern issues are highly prized by collectors. Some can even be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars in pristine condition.

So what‘s the secret to scoring a valuable modern-era quarter? In this article, we‘ll equip you with the knowledge to cherry pick treasures from circulation or fill in key slots in your collection. We‘ll primarily focus on the 50 State Quarters series while also touching on other valuable modern quarters. By the end, you‘ll know which ones to look for, where to find them, and what makes them special. Let‘s get started!

The 50 State Quarters Series

The vast majority of valuable modern quarters come from the wildly popular 50 State Quarters Program. Authorized by Congress in 1997, this ambitious initiative honored each state in the order it ratified the Constitution or was admitted to the Union. Five new reverse designs were released per year from 1999 through 2008, with each one showcasing a unique design emblematic of that state.

Over 34 billion state quarters were struck for circulation at the Philadelphia and Denver mints during the program‘s decade-long run. But while the series was a smash hit with the general public, not all state quarters are created equal in the eyes of collectors.

Four main types of state quarters were produced: circulation strikes for commerce, uncirculated coins sold in mint sets, copper-nickel clad proofs, and 90% silver proofs. As you‘d expect, the special collector issues are more desirable than coins pulled from circulation.

However, a circulation-issue quarter can still be worth a pretty penny if it‘s a scarce variety or pristine, high-grade example. For instance, the 2004-D Wisconsin extra leaf quarters, 2005-P Minnesota doubled-die, and 2005-P Kansas "IN GOD WE RUST" error are all valuable even in circulated condition.

Here‘s a rundown of the different state quarter types and their availability/value:

Circulation Strikes: These regular-issue quarters were produced in huge numbers for day-to-day transactions. Most are still extremely common and worth face value, but there are some notable exceptions. Varieties and errors are the main circulation issues that carry premiums.

Uncirculated Coins: Sold by the U.S. Mint in annual sets, uncirculated quarters never entered circulation and have more luster and sharper details than their well-worn counterparts. Certain scarcer uncirculated quarters can sell for $50 or more in top grades.

Copper-Nickel Clad Proofs: Featuring blast white fields and frosted devices, clad proofs were minted at the San Francisco Mint and bear the "S" mintmark. These are worth modest premiums over face value and are mainly collected as complete sets rather than individual coins.

90% Silver Proofs: The cream of the crop, 90% silver state quarters have the same design as their clad proof counterparts but were struck in lustrous .900 fine silver. Key silver proofs can bring $200-$500+ at auction depending on Cameo/Deep Cameo contrast and grade.

So in a nutshell, modern quarters can be very valuable, but you have to know what to look for. Luckily, we‘ve done the legwork for you. Keep reading for a list of the top valuable state quarters that should be on your radar!

Most Valuable State Quarters

What follows is a list of the most valuable circulation-strike state quarters, along with approximate retail values for high-end Mint State examples in the grades most frequently seen. Proof issues are even more valuable, with silver proofs often selling for 5-10x the prices listed here.

1999-P Delaware – $500 in MS-68
The series kickoff Delaware quarter had a mintage of over 774 million but is still quite scarce in grades of MS-68 or higher. PCGS has graded just 59 as MS-68, with none finer. An extraordinary example sold for $1,410 in 2019.

2004-D Wisconsin Extra Leaf Low – $3,000 in MS-67
The king of modern quarter errors, 2004-D Wisconsins with an extra leaf on the lower left corn cob are worth big money in any grade. One graded MS-67 by PCGS brought $8,812 at a 2006 auction. The "Low Leaf" is positioned between the coin‘s rim and corn cob.

2004-D Wisconsin Extra Leaf High – $1,500 in MS-67
The "High Leaf" Wisconsin error features an extra leaf protruding from the corn cob‘s left side and is also very valuable. PCGS has certified just 211 MS-67 examples with none higher. A PCGS MS-67 sold for $3,450 in 2021.

2005-P Kansas "IN GOD WE RUST" – $500 in MS-65
Some 2005 Kansas quarters have grease-filled dies that make the "T" in "TRUST" appear as an "R" instead, creating the humorous error "IN GOD WE RUST". In MS-65, these novel errors sell for around $500. In MS-68, the record stands at $7,475!

2005-P Minnesota Extra Tree – $1,000 in MS-66
Certain Minnesota quarters exhibit doubling in the evergreen trees that looks like an extra tree on the horizon. PCGS has certified just 18 as MS-66 with none better. A PCGS example at that grade changed hands for $1,880 in 2020.

2008-D Oklahoma – $150 in MS-68
Low-mintage quarters from the tail end of the series are harder to find in superb gem condition. Only 416 have been graded MS-68 by PCGS, and they routinely bring over $150 at that level.

The above values are for some of the rarest individual state quarters, but there are plenty of others that command respectable premiums in high grades. As a general rule, the most valuable regular issues are those from the early years of the series (1999-2001) as well as the low-mintage quarters from 2008 and 2009.

Tips for Finding Valuable State Quarters

Now that you know which state quarters to look for, you might be wondering where to find them. If you‘re on a shoestring budget, searching pocket change and coin rolls is the cheapest way to go. It‘ll take some persistence, but you can definitely find keeper coins for your raw or certified collection with enough searching.

When cherrypicking circulation coins, look for examples that are blast white with minimal marks and no wear on Washington‘s hair, cheek, or ear. These have the best shot at grading MS-65 or better.

Buying unsearched rolls from banks gives you a better chance of scoring nicer coins since they likely haven‘t been picked through by other collectors. You can find fresh 50 State Quarters rolls for as little as $10 per roll from online dealers – just make sure they‘re customer-wrapped rolls from a bank, not Mint-sewn rolls.

If you‘re feeling lucky, keep an eye out for the rare varieties and errors covered earlier. While your odds of finding one are fairly low, people have pulled them from regular pocket change before! Just knowing they exist gives you a leg up on the average collector.

For those with deeper pockets, buying coins graded MS-66 and up by PCGS or NGC is the easiest way to kickstart a killer set. Many collectors choose to concentrate on just the silver proofs since even "common" issues are low-mintage compared to the circulation strikes and clad proofs.

Online auctions and reputable dealers are the best sources for high-end certified coins. Before bidding or buying, always research the coin‘s value in the PCGS CoinFacts price guide or look at recent auction records. Some unscrupulous sellers drastically overprice modern material.

America the Beautiful Quarters

We‘d be remiss if we didn‘t touch on the other major modern quarter series with some valuable key dates: the America the Beautiful Quarters. Launched in 2010 as a follow-up to the 50 State Quarters Program, this 56-coin series showcased a National Park or National Site in each state/entity. It ran through 2021.

While America the Beautiful Quarters don‘t have any major errors that bring big bucks, some low-mintage issues are worth a fair amount in high grades. These include:

2012-S El Yunque (Puerto Rico) Silver Proof – $300 in PR-70DCAM
Just 138,114 El Yunque silver proofs were struck, and they‘re the series key in perfect grade. A PCGS-graded example in PR-70DCAM fetched $384 earlier this year.

2020-S Weir Farm Silver Proof – $150 in PR-70DCAM
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted production in 2020, creating some low-mintage coins in the process. Only 63,658 Weir Farm silver proofs were minted, the lowest of the series. PCGS PR-70DCAMs regularly sell for $150+.

So while America the Beautiful Quarters don‘t have the same potential for huge scores as the state quarters, there are still some dates worth picking out. The 2019-2021 issues all had mintages under 100,000 pieces and are the most likely to appreciate in value over time.

The Future of Modern Quarter Collecting

So there you have it – a crash course in scoring valuable modern quarters! We‘ve armed you with the knowledge of which ones to look for and how to find them. But what about the future of the hobby? Do state quarters and other recent issues make for good investments?

Like all collectibles, it depends. There‘s no guarantee any particular coin will increase in value, and you shouldn‘t treat your collection as a get-rich-quick scheme. However, there‘s a good chance the rarest high-grade state quarters, errors, and low-mintage issues will continue to appreciate as more collectors enter the market.

The 50 State Quarters Program singlehandedly revolutionized coin collecting by introducing millions of new hobbyists to the fold. Many of those collectors are now avidly seeking high-grade examples for registry sets, driving prices for the best coins ever higher. It stands to reason that as more collectors vie for top-pop coins, values will keep rising over time.

Another promising development is the emergence of modern coins as an alternative investment vehicle. In recent years, some financial gurus have touted state quarters and other modern issues as a way to diversify one‘s portfolio. As the word continues to spread, an influx of investor-collectors could bode very well for price appreciation.

Of course, nothing is guaranteed. It‘s possible prices could stagnate or even decline if collecting falls out of favor. But given the strong track record of the rare coin market and the enduring popularity of the hobby, we think the future looks bright for savvy modern quarter collectors.

At the end of the day, buy what you love and collect for the sake of enjoying these fascinating pieces of Americana. Any profits down the road will just be the icing on the cake. Coins can enrich your life in so many ways beyond mere dollar signs.

Happy hunting! With this guide in hand, you now have an edge on your modern quarter collecting journey. Get out there and start cherrypicking – your next valuable find could be right under your nose. And who knows? Maybe someday you‘ll be the one writing about scoring a five-figure rarity from pocket change. Stranger things have happened!