The W on the quarter stands for the mint mark of the West Point Mint in West Point, New York. The West Point Mint produces commemorative coins and bullion coins in addition to the America the Beautiful quarters. Let’s take a closer look at the history and meaning behind the W mint mark on quarters.
The West Point Mint
The West Point Mint is a U.S. Mint facility located in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a precious metals depository in 1937 before beginning coin production in the 1970s. Here are some key facts about the West Point Mint:
- The West Point Mint was constructed on the site of the West Point military fortification built in 1778.
- It began striking coins in 1973 with the Eisenhower dollar.
- It mainly produces commemorative coins, bullion coins, and silver proof sets.
- The West Point Mint produces 2-3 billion coins per year.
- It earned official mint status in 1988 but did not begin placing its W mint mark on coins until the 21st century.
While the West Point Mint has produced coins for decades, it only recently began placing its W mint mark on circulating coins like quarters.
When Did the W Mint Mark First Appear?
The first circulating U.S. coin to bear the W mint mark was the quarter released in 2010 as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters program. This program honored national parks and sites with a series of commemorative quarters to be released over 12 years from 2010-2021.
The first America the Beautiful quarter was released in April 2010 and honored Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. Some of these quarters minted in West Point carried the W mint mark while others did not.
Since 2010, the West Point Mint has continued minting quarters with the W mark for the America the Beautiful and 50 State Quarters programs. These programs aim to issue quarters representing every U.S. state and territory.
Meaning of the W Mint Mark
So what does the W mint mark signify specifically? Here is a breakdown of its meaning:
- W stands for West Point, indicating the coin was struck at the West Point Mint.
- A W mark means the coin is a circulation strike from West Point.
- Coins marked with W are collectible and have mintage limits.
- Having a W mark increases a coin’s numismatic value.
In summary, the W indicates that coin is a rare circulation strike from the West Point Mint. W-marked quarters are highly sought after by collectors and carry more monetary value.
Other U.S. Mint Marks
The W mint mark is one of several mint marks found on U.S. coins. Here are the meanings of other mint marks:
|Mint Mark||Mint Location|
|P||Philadelphia Mint in Philadelphia, PA|
|D||Denver Mint in Denver, CO|
|S||San Francisco Mint in San Francisco, CA|
|CC||Carson City Mint in Carson City, NV (closed)|
The Philadelphia Mint does not use a mint mark since it was the first and main U.S. mint for many years. The West Point W mark is the newest mint mark on modern U.S. coinage.
Scarcity and Value of W Quarters
One reason W-minted quarters are special is their scarcity. The West Point Mint produces far fewer coins than other mints. Here are some mintage figures for W-marked quarters:
- 2010 W Hot Springs Quarter – 1,990,000 minted
- 2011 W Gettysburg Quarter – 1,520,000 minted
- 2012 W Chaco Culture Quarter – 2,010,000 minted
By comparison, typical mintage for Philadelphia quarters is well over 100 million per design. The limited quantities make W quarters more rare and valuable to collectors and numismatists.
Let’s take a look at how having a W mint mark affects a quarter’s monetary value:
|Quarter Type||Average Value|
|Standard quarter without mint mark||$0.25|
|Uncirculated W mint quarter||$1 – $3|
|Proof W mint quarter||$10 – $15|
As seen above, a typical W mint quarter can be worth significantly more than face value. Special uncirculated and proof coins command even higher premiums.
Other Valuable Quarters
W mint quarters are not the only valuable quarters highly sought after by collectors. Here are some other quarters worth money:
- 1932-D Washington Quarter – $500+ in fine condition
- 1932-S Washington Quarter – $2,000+ in mint condition
- 1970-D Washington Quarter – $100+ with doubled die error
- 2004-S California State Quarter (proof) – $8+
- 2005-S California State Quarter (proof) – $6+
These rare dates, mint errors, and proof issues can make quarters far exceed their face value. W mint quarters remain some of the most pursueable modern quarters behind these earlier rarities.
Finding W Quarters
While W mint quarters hold more value, they can still be found in circulation if you get lucky. Here are some tips for finding W quarters:
- Check your pocket change carefully for a W mark, especially quarters minted 2010-present.
- Search coin rolls from your bank and hand check each coin.
- Visit your local coin dealer or shop and search quarters in bulk bargain bins.
- Buy rolls, bags, or boxes of new quarters from the bank and hunt for W’s.
- Check vending machine change and cash registers at retailers.
Parking meters, self checkout change, arcades, and public laundromats are all places where W quarters can turn up in circulation.
While most W quarters will get spent or mixed in circulation, the chance of finding one remains. Searching thoroughly through piles of quarters yields the best odds.
Patience and persistence are required, as W quarters only appear occasionally. But finding just one can make the effort worthwhile due to its higher numismatic value.
Buying W Quarters
You can also purchase quarter rolls, bags, boxes, or even full mint sheets containing W quarters. Here are some tips for buying W quarters:
- Buy quarter rolls from dealers or sellers online.
- Purchase unopened Federal Reserve quarter boxes.
- Buy quarter mint sheet sets directly from the U.S. Mint.
- Shop at coin shows or conventions for individual quarters.
- Use grading service PCGS or NGC for certified W quarters.
When buying rolls, bags, or boxes, be sure to confirm if it contains W quarters. Search bulk quantities carefully as well.
For already verified W quarters in the best condition, certified PCGS and NGC coins are recommended but cost more.
In summary, the W mint mark seen on some quarters signifies they were minted at the West Point Mint facility in New York. Only limited quantities of W quarters were produced, making them more rare and valuable to collectors. While challenging to find in circulation, W quarters can turn up in change or be purchased directly through various channels. They make unique additions to any U.S. coin collection.