The three Washington Quarter issues of 1932 were the first of the design which has been used in modified form up to the present day. While one of the issues (struck in Philadelphia) is generally available in all grades the two others (struck in Denver and San Francisco) are considered to be classic key dates and are the most difficult coins to acquire within the series. While the Philadelphia issue is not considered to be a rare coin it can be difficult to find in gem (MS-65) condition or higher due to the large circulation of virtually the entire mintage.
The introduction of the Washington Quarter, in 1932, was done to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of the first President of the United States. At first a commemorative medal was to be issued, as authorized by congress, but later it was decided that one of the circulating coinage designs would be replaced. For that purpose all denominations would have been suitable, but the choice was given to the Quarter, replacing the Standing Liberty Quarter which had been introduced in 1916.
The design of the new Washington Quarter was chosen through a competition, to which a relatively large number of designs were submitted. The competition was won by John Flanagan. His design featured a bust of Washington, viewed from the side, on the obverse while the reverse had a modern depiction of an American Eagle. This design would be used until 1998, when the obverse was further modernized and the reverse changed altogether with the introduction of the 50 State Quarter series in 1999. John Flanagan’s original design would later be restored with the start of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program in 2010.