The Value of a 1960 Silver Quarter

By Herb Kirchhoff
The 1960 Washington quarter, both silver value, collector value
quarters image by Jeffrey Zalesny from Fotolia.com

The value of a 1960 Washington quarter depends on whether you are considering the coin for its silver content or its collector value. The 1960 Washington quarter was made of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. According to Coinflation.com, there were 29.16 million 1960 quarters produced by the Philadelphia Mint and 63 million 1960-D quarters made in the Denver mint. The Philadelphia Mint also produced 1.69 million specially made 1960 proof quarters that were sold to collectors as part of an annual proof set of all the coins produced that year.

Silver Value

Silver Washington quarters were made from 1932 through 1964. Each of these Washington quarters contained 96.45 grains of silver, or just under one-fifth of a troy ounce. With silver trading at around $18 per troy ounce in May 2010, the 1960 quarter's silver metal was worth about $3.25, said Coinflation.com. The spot market price for a troy ounce of silver changes from day to day. A rule of thumb for estimating the melt value of a Washington silver quarter on any given day is to divide the day's spot market price for silver by 5, then subtract 10 percent from the answer. The result will be within a few cents of the actual silver melt value.

Collector Value

Collector value depends on the coin's grade. Collectors grade coins according to how perfectly they were made and how much wear they show. As a collector coin, the Professional Coin Grading Service lists the 1960 and 1960-D in collectible circulated grades at around $6. In uncirculated grades, this coin ranges from $10 for an MS-60 to around $130 for an MS-65. As with all manufactured products, some business strikes of the 1960 quarters were closer to perfection than others, which accounts for the differing uncirculated grades and prices. A 1960 proof Washington quarter, characterized by a mirror-like finish, is valued at around $10.

Uncirculated Grades

There are five grades of uncirculated coins, described by a Mint State (MS) number, said Coincommunity.com. An MS-60 Uncirculated coin shows no traces of wear but has quite a few contact marks from other coins in the mint bag, and relatively dull luster. Some design details may be weak. This is the typical U.S. Mint product. An MS-63 Select Uncirculated coin shows no wear, light contact marks, fairly bright luster and stronger design details. An MS-64 Gem Uncirculated coin has hardly any contact marks, bright luster and most design details distinct.

Choice Uncirculated

An MS-65 Choice Uncirculated coin has no wear, only a couple of light contact marks but nothing distracting, very bright luster and strong eye appeal, with all design details distinct. An MS-70 coin is a perfect coin, showing no wear, marks or blemishes, perfectly struck, brilliantly lustrous, with all design details distinct and sharp. Such coins have tremendous eye appeal but are very rare and can command thousands of dollars.

Circulated Grades.

Circulated grades describe coins that have been used in commerce. These coins have accumulated wear from being handled. According to Coincommunity.com, there are four circulated grades for Washington quarters that are considered collectible. Extremely Fine quarters are the best of the circulated grades. They will show signs of wear on Washington's cheek and hairline, the top of the eagle's legs and center of the eagle's breast. Coins will show some mint luster.

Next Lower Grades

Very Fine quarters will show no mint luster and exhibit substantial evidence of wear on Washington's face and hairlines, and on the eagle's breast, legs and wingtips. But most details can still be made out. A Fine quarter will show heavy wear with substantial flattening of the design on both sides, but wing feathers will still be distinguishable and the rim will still be distinct. A Very Good quarter will show very heavy wear, with most details worn away, but the outlines of the design will still be distinct. Tops of the letters will be flattened into the rim. Coins grading below Very Good generally are sold for their silver content.