Making Moderns column from Jan. 11, 2016, issue of
Because it saw widespread circulation, the 1976 Bicentennial quarter
dollar is the most recognizable of the coins struck to honor the 200th
anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Nearly 1.7 billion were struck for commerce, and it was the first
circulating commemorative U.S. coin of its type. The design shows a
Revolutionary War drummer in a tricorne hat. Dual dated 1776-1976, the
Bicentennial quarter dollars actually replaced the standard
circulating quarter in both 1975 and 1976. No 1975 quarter dollars
In addition to the Philadelphia- and Denver-Mint copper-nickel clad
coins struck for circulation, Proof coins were made in copper-nickel
clad and silver-copper clad alloys, both struck at the San Francisco
Mint. An Uncirculated finish silver-copper clad version was also made
for inclusion in an Uncirculated silver set. Although nearly 4 million
Silver Proof sets and 5 million Silver Uncirculated sets were sold,
they didn’t fly off the shelves. The Mint offered Bicentennial Silver
Uncirculated sets as late as 1986.
Partly owing to their abundance, Bicentennial quarter dollars are
sent to third-party certification services in greater number than any
other Washington quarter dollar of the post-1964 era.
High-grade examples appear at auction nearly three times more
frequently than other date. However, they are among the most expensive
Washington quarter dollars of the era because they comprise a
single-date type coin.
In 2007, Heritage
Auctions sold one of the finest-known 1976-S silver-copper clad
quarter dollars graded Mint State 69 for $5,888. Professional Coin Grading
Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corp. combined have graded
only three coins at this lofty level. In 2012, Heritage sold a 1976-D
copper-nickel clad quarter dollar graded NGC MS-68 for $3,220.
A prominent die variety of the 1976-D quarter dollar, showing bold
doubling on the obverse legends, is also very valuable. Designated as
FS-101 in the Cherrypickers’ Guide to Rare Die Varieties of United
States Coins, it is very scarce in higher grades.
GreatCollections sold an example certified PCGS MS-63 for $2,640 in
2014. Just two Uncirculated examples have been certified combined by
NGC and PCGS.
All issues of Bicentennial quarter dollars are much more affordable
in lower grades, but still expect to pay a premium over any
standard-design Washington quarter dollar of similar rarity.