U.S. quarters were composed mostly of silver (90 percent silver and 10 percent copper) until 1965 and have featured George Washington, the nation's first president, on the face since 1932, the 200th anniversary of his birth. The initials JF can be seen by Washington's neck and represent the initials of John Flanagan, a New York sculptor who designed the coin. The value of a 1954 silver quarter is determined by the place the coin was minted and the coin's grade.
The coin was minted in one of three cities--Philadelphia, Denver or San Francisco. About 54 million quarters were minted in Philadelphia in 1954, about 42 million were minted in Denver and only 12 million were minted in San Francisco. The mint mark can be found below the wreath on the reverse of the quarter. No mark represents Philadelphia, D is for Denver and S is for San Francisco.
Fine and Very Fine
These are among the poorer of the grades, and are designated as F-12 and VF-20. For a fine grade, the hair lines at Washington's ear must still be visible while most of the hair lines should still be seen to achieve a grade of very fine. All mint marks are worth about $2 in these conditions.
The hair lines must be sharp, with few wear spots on the quarter for it to receive a grade of extremely fine, or EF-40. All mint marks are valued at around $3 in these conditions.
All details on the coin must be sharp, and it must have good eye appeal and an only slightly faded luster. The quarter can have a few contact marks to obtain the grade of uncirculated, or MS-60. The quarter is worth $5 to $6 in this grade for all mint marks.
The coin must be practically blemish free and have a very strong luster to obtain the grade of MS-65, or gem uncirculated. The values are around $32 for Philadelphia, $36 for San Francisco and $42 for Denver.
- Whitman's Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins 2009; R.S. Yeoman; 2009
A veteran of the newspaper industry, Johnny Kampis has worked as a freelance writer since 2005. His articles have appeared in various publications including "The New York Times," "Atlanta-Journal Constitution" and the "San Francisco Chronicle." He currently serves as an editor of poker-based "Rounder" magazine and writer for the Alabama football publication "Crimson" magazine.