Originally intended as a one-year commemorative of the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth, the Washington Quarter designed by John Flanagan became so popular that it was adopted as a regular issue in 1934. As it turned out, a public competition was held to create the design of the coin in 1931. The Treasury Department and the Federal Commission of Fine Arts favored the designs of Laura Gardin Fraser, whose husband had designed the popular “Buffalo” Nickel on two separate voting occasions. Ironically, Flanagan’s submission did not originally win the design competition, but then Treasury Secretary Mellon preferred Flanagan’s designs later and refused to consent to the two commissions’ adjudication. Treasury Secretary Ogden Mills, refusing to contradict his predecessor’s decision, adopted John Flanagan’s designs in 1932.
The branch mint issues of 1932 are considered the keys to the series. Both the Denver and San Francisco Mints produced less than half a million coins that year. There are also two scarce double-die Washington Quarters (1934 and 1943-S) and two over mintmark varieties (1950-D, D over S, and 1950-S, S over D).