» 1990 Quarter Error List & Value

1990 Quarter Error List & Value

Washington quarters have been minted in the US for a very long time – every year since 1932 including in 1990 and to this day. As such a long-issued coin, the quarter has seen its fair share of changes in composition and mintage but the iconic design has mostly stayed the same.

Does this mean that the 1990 quarter doesn’t stand out? Is the fact that it’s fairly recent compared to older quarters detrimental to its value? Or is there value in this coin that makes it worth collecting? Let’s find out below.

1990 Quarter Value Chart

Mint mark Good Fine Extremely Fine Uncirculated
1990 “D” Quarter Value $0.25 $0.25 to $0.35 $0.50 to $1 $10 to $168 and above
1990 “P” Quarter Value $0.25 $0.25 to $0.35 $0.50 to $1 $20 to $180 and above
1990 “S” Proof Quarter Value n/a n/a $3 $4 to $26 and above

It’s rather clear from the chart above that 1990 quarters aren’t the most valuable coins out there. The overwhelming majority of them were released into circulation, of course, which means that they have accumulated enough wear and tear not to have any collector’s value.

In fact, Washington quarters of any year are known for losing quality faster than most other coins because the design of the obverse side of the coin – while beautiful and iconic – just doesn’t handle the wear and tear well.

So, the only 1990 quarters that are worth more than their face value are the ones that have been preserved in their mint state or close to it by collectors. These are coins around and above the 64 quality grade on the 1-to-70 Sheldon coin grading scale or other similar scales.

Additionally, even the quarters of high enough quality aren’t all that valuable compared to similar coins from previous years. The reason for that is simple – 1990 wasn’t all that long ago so the coins aren’t vintage or all that appealing to collectors in any way yet.

So, the only 1990 quarter coins you might find that are worth more than a dollar will be fully uncirculated coins in mint condition. And, if you want a coin that’s worth a few dozen dollars or even over a hundred or a thousand dollars, you’d need it to have some extraordinarily rare manufacturing errors or other similar peculiarities on it.

1990 “D” Quarter Value

1990 “D” Quarter Value
Credit: usacoinbook

1990 quarter coins made by the Denver Mint are the first and most common variant of this coin. The Denver Mint produced 927,638,181 quarters in 1990 which is about 300 million more than the Philadelphia Mint. This isn’t all that surprising since the Denver Mint traditionally makes more quarters than its Philly counterpart but 927 million is still a pretty big number even for Denver.

Of course, this large number also means that Denver-made 1990 quarters aren’t at all rare today. Most people in the US today have or have had 1990 quarters with the “D” mint mark in their pockets at one point or another. This is also noticeable in the average value of these coins compared to the slightly lower mintage of the Philly-made 1990 quarter.

What’s more, neither the “D” 1990 quarter nor the one made in Philadelphia are inherently different from previous Washington quarters. The design of these coins is exactly as it has been for decades before them.

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The obverse side of the coin portrays George Washington’s face, turned to the left. Above it, with large letters, is written the word “Liberty” and directly below it is the date – 1990, in this case. To the left of Washington’s face and under his chin is the motto “In God we trust” and to the right of him is a tiny “D” letter – the mint mark of the Denver Mint.

The reverse side of the coin is also just what we’ve come to expect from Washington quarters – it shows a large eagle with its wings spread wide and with a bunch of arrows grasped in its claws. Below the arrows are two olive branches and below those is the text “Quarter Dollar”.

Above the eagle’s head is the motto “E Pluribus Unum” or “From many, one” and above that is written “United States of America”. There is no mint mark on the reverse side of the coin.

All this portrays the 1990 “D” quarter as rather “ordinary” and it is. Still, this doesn’t mean that individual coins can’t be rare, special, or valuable. If a Denver-made 1990 quarter is well-preserved in its mint state and if it happens to have some interesting features such as a manufacturing error of some kind, it can be different and unique enough to be worth a collector’s attention.

Such pieces can command prices of over $100, up to $140, or $170 in some rare cases. In even more specific scenarios, a price tag in the 4-digit range is possible. For example, in 2018 an MS 67 Denver-made 1990 quarter was sold for $1,440 at an auction. This is a rather sharp price for such a new coin but it can still be a great investment for the future.

1990 “P” Quarter Value

1990 “P” Quarter Value

The second largest mintage of 1990 quarters came from the Philadelphia Mint – a total of 613,792,000. This is significantly lower than the Denver mintage but still, a very high number overall, making 1990 one of the years with the highest number of quarters made.

Design-wise, the only difference between 1990 quarters made in Philadelphia and those made in Denver is the different mint mark – “P” instead of “D”. Everything else, including the location of the mint mark is the same for both coins. In fact, if the coin has accumulated a fair amount of wear and tear, it can even be difficult to tell the “P” and the “D” apart.

This may partly explain why the Philadelphia Mint had refused to use mint marks for decades before the 1980s – on quarters as well as on most of their other coins – given how easy to mistake the two letters are, especially on small coins.

Regardless of whether with a “P” mint mark or with no mint mark as was the case in the past, Philadelphia-made quarters aren’t different from those made in Denver in any other way.

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So, why is their value slightly higher on average? The smaller mintage likely explains a big part of that but there are often slight differences in the quality of the two Mint’s coins – sometimes those made in Denver are of slightly higher quality, and other times it is vice versa.

In this case, the 1990 “P” quarters do seem to be of a little higher quality overall but this isn’t all that significant to explain the higher collector’s value as the above chart compares similar quality coins. So, it may also just as well be that, in 1990, Philly-made quarters happened to have a bit more valuable manufacturing errors or other characteristics valued by collectors.

Even with all of that, the average price of Philly coins isn’t all that impressive. The highest quality coins average up to $180 with the only greater exceptions being a couple of MS 67 “P” coins that were sold for $1,300 and $1,560, and another coin – the most expensive 1990 quarter to date – which was sold for $1,625.

1990 “S” Proof Quarter Value

1990 “S” Proof Quarter Value

Lastly, we have the 1990 “S” quarter, also known as the 1990 proof quarter. This coin is different from the above two variants and it was also minted in a much smaller number by the San Francisco Mint – only 3,299,559 coins.

The reason for this is the fact that this is a “proof coin” and it’s not meant for wide circulation. Proof coins, traditionally made in San Francisco, are of much higher quality but are also more expensive to make.

These coins utilize an entirely different minting process, including specially-treated blanks, hand-cleaned and hand-polished dies, submerging the minting die in a special acid, and more.

The purpose of all this is to create “proof coins” that can serve as proof of authenticity, proof against fakes, for display purposes, as well as to be sold to collectors and thus recoup some of the US Mint’s expenses.

Another interesting factoid is that proof coins come in a few sub-variants of their own – Deep Cameo proofs, Cameo proofs, and “ordinary” proofs.

The difference between those is that Deep Cameos (or DCAMs) are the first fifty to a hundred coins out of the mint after it has been treated and hand-prepared for minting. These proof coins have the absolute highest quality of finish and fidelity of detail.

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Cameos (or CAMs) are the second batch of a hundred or so coins to come out of the minting die’s strikes after the DCAMs. Cameo proofs are also of exceptional quality, just not quite as great as that of Deep Cameos.

The last category is regular proof coins. These are the other thousands of coins that get minted – they are not quite extraordinary as Deep Cameo and Cameo proofs but are still significantly better than ordinary circulation quarters made in Denver or Philadelphia.

So, if all proof coins are so much better than normal coins, why are the 1990 “S” proof quarters not of higher value than their “ordinary” counterparts? Rarity is the quick answer here.

Even though there are only 3 million or so proof coins made in 1990, this number is still much greater than the handful of “D” and “P” quarters that were kept in mint state. So, while a proof coin is more valuable than a regular $0.25 circulation quarter, it won’t be as sought-after and highly valued uncirculated “D” and “P” quarters.

1990 Quarter Grading

As you can see, grading 1990 quarters is tricky but it’s also quite intuitive once you get the hang of it. All that’s needed for a coin to be valuable is for it to be rare, of great quality, and – lastly, as we’ll talk about below – for it to have a certain special manufacturing error or a different feature that makes it even more unique and rare. If you want a more visual example, here’s a good video on that.

Lists of 1990 Quarter Errors

There are many errors a coin can be made with but some are more desirable than others as they make the coin not just rare but interesting and even appealing. This is a good showcase of some common errors in 1990 quarters and we’ll list a few examples below too:

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1990 Quarter Double Die Error

The famous double die error occurs when the coin’s metal planchet has shifted a tiny bit between the minting die’s two strikes. This creates a sort of blur or distortion on the coin’s side that’s most noticeable either on the lettering or on some of the numbers. If that distortion isn’t too major or unappealing, it can bump up the coin’s value quite a bit.

1990 Quarter Plain Edge Error

This type of error is quite self-explanatory – while 1990 Washington quarters typically have a reeded edge, some coins come out with a plain edge because they’ve been skipped along the processing line.

1990 Quarter Off-Center Error

1990 Quarter Off-Center Error

Off-center errors occur in a similar way – in this case, however, the coin’s metal planchet has shifted in its place just before the minting die’s first strike, not between the first and the second. When that happens, the coin’s image is minted properly and with no distortion but it is off-center.

1990 Quarter FAQ

Is there anything special about a 1990 quarter?

Not really, at least not in general. Individual 1990 quarters can be special if they’ve been kept in their mint state and if they have some extraordinary production errors on them. But the series as a whole is just another year of minting Washington Quarters.

Are 1990 quarters worth keeping?

They can be, if there is something special about them such as an interesting manufacturing error. If that’s not the case, however, and especially if the coin is not in a great visual quality either, it won’t be worth anything above its face value any time soon.

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