The Good Old Days of Finding Pennies
As kids, we were often excited to find a quarter under our pillows left by an angel or the tooth fairy. Chances are, we all wondered if the quarter was made of silver. You will be surprised to know that even adults have a lot of questions about quarters. You may find yourself wondering, “how much does a quarter weigh?” or “what are quarters made of” and so on. If you think these questions are simple to answer, you are wrong. The quarter has gone through many changes over the years for fitting the requirements of the era.
What is a Quarter?
The quarter dollar or just dollar is a U.S. coin with a value of 25 cents. It is a quarter of the dollar. U.S. quarters have a thickness of 1.75 mm (.069 inches) and a diameter of 24.26 mm (.955 inches). The quarter shows George Washington’s profile on its obverse while the reverse design has gone through frequent changes. U.S. quarters were minted on and off after 1796 and gained consistency only after 1831. Making the quarter dollar a denomination, as opposed to 1/5 more popular elsewhere, came up from the practice of Spanish milled dollars getting divided into eight segments. The segments were shaped in wedges, and it is because of these the coins were also called “pieces of eight”. The quarter also has a common name, “two bits”. It is to denote two-eighths of a single piece of eight.
What is a Quarter Made of?
A lot of people have this misconception of some coins inside our pockets to be of precious metals. In the history of the United States, there was a time when circulating coins actually had silver and gold in them. Due to the rise in metals’ prices, it became impractical to mint coins out of metals. In the early U.S. days, quarters were made from silver. However, from 1873-1964, these consisted of 90% silver along with 10% copper. In today’s time, a much less expensive combination of nickel and copper is used for making quarters.
How to Measure Silver?
Before 1965, U.S. quarters were minted using 6.25 grams (0.1808 troy ounces) of physical silver. In case you don’t know what a troy ounce is, it is a unit of measurement used to weigh precious metals that goes back to the Middle Ages. This unit was initially used in Troyes, France. AS per the United Kingdom Royal Mint, 1 troy ounce is equivalent to 31.1034768 grams. Standard ounces were used for measuring other items like grain and sugar; 1 standard ounce was equal to a little less than 28.35 grams. As per some historians, the origins of the troy ounce lay in Roman times.
The monetary system of Rome was standardized by using bronze bars which one could break down into 12 pieces known as ‘uncial’ (ounce). Each of the pieces weighed around 31.1 grams. It was a unit of measurement which gained importance due to the expansion of trade in Europe. It became necessary in commerce to use this system for accurately weighing precious metals. Even today, the troy ounce is seen as the standard unit of measurement for ensuring purity standards within the precious metals market. Numerous other common measurements also remain constant over time.
How much does a U.S. Quarter Weigh?
When the United States was still a young nation, the Coinage Act of 1792 was passed by the federal government. The U.S. dollar was established by the Act, which also dictated the needed weights for varying coins, such as the very new 25-cent coin. This new coin weighs 6.01 grams (0.211 ounces) pure silver or 6.74 grams which were 0.237 standard ounces. The weights lasted before the Coinage Act of 1873 came to implementation.
After this, U.S. quarters started to be made of 10% copper and 90% silver, with a little heavier weightage of 6.25 grams or 0.022 ounces. From 1965, the U.S. quarters weigh 5.76 grams (0.2 ounces). The diameter of the quarters is 24.66 mm with 1.75 mm thickness. They are mainly made from 91.67% of copper (“clad sandwich”) inside, while 8.33% of nickel plates are used on the outside.
Do All Quarters have the Same Weight?
The quarters possess a mind-blowing history with an equally fascinating present. For instance, the popular state quarters have quite varied specifications with state-specific elements within their designs. The quarters of the United States have little different weights because of the historical usage of different components. Over the years, quarters have been made in different variations. Let us go through some of the different types of quarters found in the United States.
Draped Bust Quarter
This kind of quarter was minted in 1796-1807. Each of these precious quarters weighs 6.74 grams. Most probably, out of the 6,146 originally minted coins, 10% end up surviving in some grade, while most of them lie in the Fine to About Good range. Draped Bust quarters are a one-year kind and are in scarce quantity. However, enough of these were saved in midgrade to located A.U. to V.F quarters, although at a price of mid-five figures. Uncirculated coins are also known, which will typically take you back to over $100,000.
Be it any grade, the 1796 U.S. quarter has become a major issue and is also a landmark within the coinage series of the U.S. Quarter dollars, which were minted from 1804 to 1807 continue the obverse of Draped Bust, which was first utilized in 1796. However, its star count fell to 13 stars from 15, six at the right and seven at the left.
Capped Bust Quarter
First minted in 1815, the Capped Bust quarter weighed 6.75 grams. In 1837 and 1838, its weight dropped a little to 6.7 grams. In 1807, the quarter coinage was suspended, but the denomination got produced again in 1815. During this time, the world saw the introduction of the Capped Bust quarters. These coins had motifs similar to those on various other silver denominations found in the period. These made their first appearance on the half dollars of 1807.
Seated Liberty Quarter
It was in 1838 when the minting of Seated Library quarters started. Initially, they weighed 6.68 grams, but in 1853, it dropped to 6.22 grams, and in 1873, they slightly increased to 6.25 grams. This design was made continuously from 1838 to 1853 and again from 1856 to 1865. The early issues of this coin were deficient in drapery at the Liberty’s elbow. Few issues go back to 1853, while those dated 1855 and 1854 display arrows.
In 1853, the weight of quarters and other silver denominations got reduced as a step against the melting and hoarding of newly released coins. What weighed 103.125 grains previously got lowered to an authorized weight of 96 grains. In 1873, there was a slight rise in the quarter dollar’s authorized weight. From 96 grains, it was raised to 96.45 grains. For signifying the new standard, there was an addition of arrows to quarters made later towards 1873 and all the pieces made in 1874. The weight was consistent after 1874; however, the arrows were not in use anymore.
The weight of more commonly used silver quarters is 6.25 grams. Silver quarters minted during 1873-1964 weigh the same, that is, 6.25 grams. It includes all the silver Barber quarters, Standing Liberty quarters, and Washington quarters. The quarters comprise 90% silver with 10% copper. They are unlikely to be found in circulation, but one can purchase them individually as collectibles or as bullion.
Early Silver Quarters
The early-issue, rare silver quarters weigh differently in different variations. It all depends on the series. It would help if you kept in mind that these are older quarters and completely out of circulation. You can only buy them as collectible coins. Hence, if you are not a collector, it is next to impossible for you to stumble across them.
Clad quarters are all sorts of U.S. quarters minted after 1964. They weigh 5.67 grams are you are most likely to have them in your wallet. They are made of 91.67% of copper and 8.33% nickel. (See also How many grams are in 1 pound?)
Let’s Talk about Cupronickel
A lot of people are still unaware of the fact that the very popular silver quarters were replaced by a more cost-effective combo. As the supply of zinc, nickel, and copper was available in abundance, the mixture became the prominent coin composition that we all see as the quarter coins of modern times. However, it is pretty ironic that nickel and copper make a unique element combination used in industries. The dime, nickel, and quarter have a copper-nickel combination known as cupronickel. It is a corrosion-resistant and durable alloy which is an inexpensive way of bulk-producing circulating coins.
In the United States coinage, you can often find cupronickel in a 3:1 ratio of copper to nickel. When it comes to other applications, like the marine industry or automotive industry, this proportion is lower or higher as per the need. Cupronickel can be used in several ways. It includes ship repair as well as shipbuilding. Thanks to the solid-state of its element and cost-effectiveness, it is perfect to use for high-pressure applications.
Construction work also uses it as reinforcements for load-bearing structures and beams. Strengthening elements are also added to cupronickel. There is a common practice of adding manganese or iron in cupronickel. Chromium, zinc, and other such elements have also been used for adding strength to cupronickel. This alloy is also recyclable. Hence, you can reuse it as it does not lose its chemical properties.
How much does a US Quarter Weigh?
How Many Grams Does a Quarter Weigh? A United States quarter-dollar coin, minted in 1964 or later, weighs 5.670 grams, or 0.200 ounces.