David Hall: The Washington quarter was first issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth. It was the first design change for U.S. coins since 1916. It was some what of a novelty at the time of issue. However, 1932 was the depth of the Great Depression so not a lot of Uncircuated examples were initially saved. The coin was desirable nonetheless and within a few years it was much hoarded. But most of the coins that were saved were sliders, i.e. coins that had seen a little circulation and would grade AU58 or so today. I remember seeing slider rolls of this isssue in the 1970s. True Gem MS65 or better 1932 Philadelphia quarters are actually fairly rare. In MS67 (PCGS population of only two coins as of August, 2009), this is an extremely rare coin.
According to a notice in the June 1934 issue of The Numismatist (p. 416), collectors could still purchase Uncirculated 1932 Quarter Dollars directly from the U.S. Treasury for "the face value of the coins and an amount sufficient to cover the mail charrges by first-class mail."
Wondercoin Collection (PCGS Set Registry)