Despite having such a small mintage the 1796 quarter dollar is relatively “common” in uncirculated condition. It appears that a relatively large number of coins were saved from circulation at the time of minting, resulting in relatively regular offerings at coin auctions in the 21st century. Yet, this does not mean that every coin is especially appealing, and a keen eye is always required when purchasing a 1796 quarter dollar in any condition. Because of the high demand for this issue from both early quarter collectors as well as type set collectors prices are high, and most offerings sell quickly.
It is likely that a majority of the 1796 quarter dollars that are being offered at auction come from the holdings of Col. E. H. R. Green. It is said (from a comment made by Abe Kosoff in the 1940s, when most of the coins were dispersed) that approximately half of the 200 (or 100, depending on which source you consult) uncirculated 1796 quarter dollar that were in his possession came with prooflike surfaces. Because many of the uncirculated specimens that now come to the market do have prooflike surfaces it is very likely that this comment was correct. 200 uncirculated specimens would account for approximately 35% of the known examples of this issue, which seems like an extremely high number. Population reports, however, do suggest that uncirculated 1796 quarter dollars are somewhat plentiful (relatively speaking, of course).
The absolute finest known 1796 quarter dollar has been certified by PCGS as MS-67 and has a pedigree that dates back to the 19th century. While this coin has not sold at public auction recently, various experts have determined its approximate value at approximately 1.2 million dollars. NGC, as their finest known, has graded two MS-66 examples. In slightly lower grades, but still in uncirculated condition, both grading services have graded several dozen.
Regardless of the grade all 1796 quarter dollars are high prized items. Any uncirculated specimen usually sells for 6 figure sums at auction, while choice AU coins often sell for $50,000 or more. Depending on eye appeal, circulated specimens in VF-XF condition (which are extremely scarce), have an approximate value of $30-40,000. For lower grade coins the general accepted market price is at least $15,000, while problem coins in very low condition with lacking eye-appeal still sell for $8,000. Prices for this issue have risen tremendously over the last decade or so and any 1796 quarter dollar in problem free condition remains an excellent investment possibility.