Although the denomination was authorized in 1792, it was not issued until four years later in 1796. The designs followed that of the early half dimes and dimes. The first of the design to be issued in 1796 was the Draped Bust. The Draped Bust was minted from 1796 through 1807 with a slight change to the reverse starting in 1804.
There was a 8 year gap of production from 1807 to 1815 when the Capped Bust was introduced. The Capped Bust was produced from 1815 through 1838 with two Varieties. Variety One, which was a larger diameter, was minted from 1815 through 1828. It was then changed to a reduced diameter, Variety Two , which was produced from 1831 through 1838.
This was followed by the Liberty Seated which ran through production every single year from 1838 through Americas Civil War, until 1891. Of course, not without several slight changes to design or weight.
In 1892, the Barber ( most commonly used ) or Liberty Head was introduced. The design was adopted not only by quarters, but dimes and half dollars too. Named after the designer himself, Charles E. Barber, whose designs were only utilized after a failed open design competition put on by the Treasury.
By 1916, a call by orders of President Theodore Roosevelt during his time in office, and influences by members of the numismatic community, was made to make the United States coinage more attractive. This effort became known as the “Renaissance of American coinage“. Thus, the Standing Liberty was designed. The Standing Liberty was minted from 1916 through 1930, but grew unpopular during circulation due to their low relief and quick wear down.
With a skip in production in 1931, the mint issued in 1932, what was suppose to be a one year commemorative coin honoring the 200th anniversary of the birth of the first United States President. However, it became the longest issued obverse design in United States coinage history. The Washington Quarter. The Silver Coinage ran from 1932 through 1964, and changed to a Clad Coinage and Silver Proofs from 1965 to present date. In 1973, it was announced by the Treasury there was to be an open contest held for the selection of suitable designs for the Bicentennial reverse of a few denominations including the quarter. This resulted in the Bicentennial 1776 - 1976 that were produced in 1975 and 1976. After, the production of the eagle reverse resumed from 1977 through 1998.
Then, the United States Mint 50 State Quarters Program began in 1999 producing a series of quarter dollar coins with special designs honoring each individual state, and bringing a whole group of new coin collectors. This was followed by the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories Quarters in 2009, and then the America The Beautiful Quarters Program from 2010 to present 2021.
Although it has had some changes over the years, the portrait of George Washington has remained, and doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon.