The following Q&A is excerpted from Clifford Mishler’s Coins: Questions & Answers, 5th edition:
Q: What were the forces which deemed it proper that Washington be featured on the new quarter introduced in 1932, when in his lifetime Washington is said to have rejected the idea of having his image featured on a coin?
A: It isn’t unusual for posterity to ignore a man’s preference when they design to honor him. Confucius was a teacher who professed no knowledge of a god or hereafter; his disciples reacted after his death by making his teachings a religion, and him a god.
A precedent for a numismatic commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth existed in the Lincoln cent, which had been introduced in 1909 to observe the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The Washington quarter was introduced as a one-year commemorative, but it proved so popular with the public that, following a one-year lapse in mintage, it was decided in 1934 to continue the coin as a regular issue. The conversion to presidential portraiture on our circulating coinage continued in 1938 with the introduction of the Jefferson nickel and in 1946 with the introduction of the Roosevelt dime, being concluded in 1964 with the Kennedy half supplanting the Franklin half introduced in 1948. ❑