Learn more about the significance of the 2019 and 2020 circulating quarters with the W mint mark, plus learn why you should be and how you can start collecting these W mint mark quarters.
The 2019 W-Mint Mark Quarters
2019 marked the first time that circulating coinage struck at West Point Mint received a “W” mint mark. “Firsts” within the coin collecting hobby always bring excitement to the coin world, especially for collectors working on full sets of a specific series. The “W” mint mark also instantly distinguishes them from regular circulating quarters that are usually struck at the Denver and Philadelphia mints and carry their respective mint marks. While the West Point Mint has struck circulating quarters in the past, they have never before carried a “W” mint mark, making the five 2019-W quarters the very first circulating quarters to carry this iconic mint mark. This tradition continued in 2020.
To celebrate the 96th annual National Coin Week, in 2019, the United States Mint released West Point Mint mark quarters into circulation for the very first time! In total, 10 million quarters, two million of each America the Beautiful Quarter, bearing the “W” mint mark were mixed into circulation for lucky change holders everywhere to seek out. The 2019-W Quarters included designs honoring Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts, American Memorial Park in Northern Mariana Islands, the War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas, and the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.
While 10 million coins may sound like a lot, the W quarters will only account for a tiny fraction of the total circulating quarters produced in 2019, making them a significant find. For comparison, in 2018, the U.S Mint released more than 1.85 billion quarters into circulation whose mintages ranged from 289.6 million to 439.8 million across the five designs released last year. That is a LOT of circulating quarters.
What Is a Mint Mark and Why Does It Matter?
A mint mark is a symbol, often a small representative letter, that appears on one face of a coin, usually the obverse or “heads” side, and identifies which Mint facility it was struck at. Originally, mint marks were used to identify which facility a coin was struck at should any problems arise. For example, if the there was a problem with the die used or something was off with the metal composition of a certain batch, the origin point of the issue was easy to find.
Today, Mints continue to release coins with mint marks, largely as Numismatic tradition, to the delight of collectors. Often, collections are put together by mint mark and date. Sometimes, the presence of a certain Mint marks on a particular coin, can increase its value significantly. The United States Mint currently has four operating facilities, each with their own mint mark. They include Philadelphia (P), Denver (D), San Francisco (S), and West Point Mint (W). Today, issues from the Philadelphia mint generally do not carry a mint mark, and are distinguished from other issues, by their lack of mint marks.
The 2020 W Mint Mark Quarters
Between 1939 and 1945, war raged both in Europe and in the Pacific. Back in 2020, 75 years after the end of the war, the United States Mint commemorated the end of World War II by releasing 2020-W America the Beautiful Quarters into circulation that, in addition to the “W” mint mark, also carry a special “V75” mint mark. These 2020 circulating quarters from the West Point Mint mark just the second time the United States Mint has issued circulating quarters with the iconic “W” mint mark.
75th Anniversary of the End of World War II
From 1914-1918, World War I ravaged Europe, resulting in an estimated 20 million deaths. So horrific was the conflict that it became known as “the war to end all wars,” as it rendered future conflicts unthinkable. Just two decades after it ended, though, the world entered an even bigger war. Between 1939 and 1945, war raged both in Europe and in the Pacific. By the end of the conflict, at least 45 million people – some estimates suggest tens of millions more – had lost their lives. In 2020, the United States Mint commemorated the end of one of the most violent conflicts in human history.
To mark the occasion, the United States Mint again struck ten million circulating quarters at the West Point Mint. Circulated American quarters are typically struck only at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints and bear their “P” or “D” mint marks. The ten million pieces will instead take the “W” mint mark of the West Point Mint, marking just the second year the United States Mint has issued such quarters The West Point Mint branch of the United States Mintis particularly appropriate for these coins since West Point is also the home of the United States Military Academy. The ten million pieces were divided evenly among the five 2020 America the Beautiful Quarters. These include Connecticut’s Weir Farm National Historic Site, the US Virgin Islands’ Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve, Vermont’s Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park, Kansas’s Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, and America Samoa’s National Park of American Samoa.
For further reading on the West Point Mint, read our article “Inside the West Point Mint.”
The “V75” Privy Mark
In addition to the “W” mint mark, the coins will also have a unique “V75” privy mark. The privy mark takes the shape of the Rainbow Pool, a vital feature of the World War II Memorial located in Washington, DC’s West Potomac Park. “V75” stands for “Victory 75,” or 75 years since the American triumph in both theaters. The mark appears on the left side of the obverse.
The United States Mint struck 10 million pieces with the privy and “W” mint marks. Although these coins are sure to be extremely attractive to collectors, finding them will not be as easy as other collectible pieces. That is because none of the coins struck with the mint mark and privy were sold directly to dealers. Instead, the Denver Mint and Philadelphia Mint released them directly into circulation in their bulk bags along with “P” and “D” mint mark coins. This means that few of the coins may survive in Mint State condition, as most Americans going about their daily business will likely miss these coins and continue to circulate them. Collectors who were savvy enough to find them early in their circulation probably fared best in terms of finding them in the best condition.
NGC’s “V Day” Certification Labels
One of America’s leading grading companies, Numismatic Guaranty Company(NGC), also participated in the event with new certification labels that it created specifically for these coins. The label says “V Day” on the right, with the “V” in red and “Day” in black and white. In the background is a silhouetted image of soldiers going into battle carrying their weapons. The images invoke powerful feelings about the dangers faced and sacrifices made by millions of American soldiers during the war.
In 2020, Americans faced new challenges at home and abroad. Most of those who contributed to the World War efforts, either in conflict or on the home front, have now passed on, and most children are now born without any living relative who remembers the battle. It becomes more comfortable with each passing year to put the countless sacrifices made by their ancestors into the backs of their minds. The 2020-W America the Beautiful Quarters serve as healthy reminders of just how much people gave up preserving our way of life, and how many of them never came back. At a time of crisis, unlike any living memory, Americans also serve as inspiration that Americans can not only survive perilous times but also emerge from them stronger and prouder than ever before.
Collecting W-Mint Marked Quarters
To celebrate the 96th annual National Coin Week, in 2019, the United States Mint released West Point Mint mark quarters into circulation for the very first time! In total, 10 million quarters, two million of each America the Beautiful Quarter, bearing the “W” mint mark will be mixed into circulation for lucky change holders everywhere to seek out.
What Am I Looking for In a W-Minted Marked Quarter?
The W mint mark will be located on the obverse, or “heads” side of the coin. It will appear right below the inscription “In god we trust,” and to the right of Washington’s pony tail. As mentioned above, the W mint mark so far has appeared on all five designs of the 2019 and 2020 America the Beautiful circulating quarters. No “W” circulating quarters have been issued in 2021 or 2022. If you are unfamiliar with the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, the US Mint began issuing 56 quarter-dollar coins in 2010 through 2021. Each coin features designs depicting national parks and other national sites.
In 2019, the circulating West Point Mint quarters featured designs honoring Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts, American Memorial Park in Northern Mariana Islands, War in the Pacific National Historical Park in Guam, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas, and the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho. In 2020, the “W” circulating quarters included designs commemorating Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut, Salt River Bay National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park in Vermont, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas, and the National Park of American Samoa in American Samoa. The 2020-W America the Beautiful circulating quarters, as stated above, also include a special “V75” privy mark to mark the 75th anniversary of America’s involvement in WWII. With the America the Beautiful quarter series ending in 2021, to date, 2019 and 2020 mark the only times the United States Mint has issued circulating quarters that were both stuck at the West Point Mint and feature its “W” Mint mark.
Remember, only two million of each design was released into circulation bearing the “W” mint mark, mixed into all the other millions of circulating quarters issued in these respective years, making them a true circulating rarity!
Where Should I Be Hunting for W-Mint Marked Quarters?
In the change in your pocket! These quarters were distributed by the U.S Mint into bulk bags of quarters at the Philadelphia and Denver Mints in 2019 and 2020 respectively. They were mixed in with normal quarters that do not bear the W mint mark and were disseminated by the Federal Reserve to banks and financial institutions. For those with less time and more money to spend, it was also possible to buy rolls of quarters from banks and hope that that elusive little “W” appeared on one of the coins.
Today, several years after the release of the West Point mint marked circulating quarters, it is possible to purchase these quarters from trusted dealers both online and at your local coin shop. Certified options will even allow you to find examples that may have avoided getting beat up with other pocket change.
Are W-Mint Mark Quarters Rare?
The West Point Mint has produced quarters for years; however, before 2019 and 2020, they never had a mint mark, therefore making them indistinguishable from quarters minted at the Philadelphia facility. In total, for 2020, the West Point Mint struck 10 million circulating quarters that were mixed into bulk bags at both the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. While 10 million might sound like a lot, that is only 2 million of each design, all of which were put into circulation. According to CoinNews, in 2020 the United States Mint issued a total of 2,768,000,000 quarters, so out of that incredible sum, only 10,000,000 quarters were struck with the “W” mint mark.
In 2019, a total of 1,651,600,000 quarters were issued by the United States Mint across all of its branches, with only 10,000,000 being issued by the West Point Mint with it’s “W” mint mark.
How Much Are W Mint Quarters Worth?
It really depends on what someone is willing to pay, but generally speaking, W-mint quarters can range anywhere from $12 – $25 in average condition, while high mint state graded options can go for more than $500. To ensure collectors are getting a high-quality W-mint quarter for a fair price, working with reputable coin dealers such as ModernCoinMartis a collector’s best bet.