junk silver coins

When someone is just getting started in silver investing, one of the first things they frequently wonder is how they can make money on silver. While .999 bars and rounds are an excellent choice, there is another option that some overlook. You may be ready to make money on silver right now just by going through your change jar. Many older American coins, instead of being the copper sandwiches they are today, are largely composed of silver.

What Does Junk Silver Mean?

Uncirculated or rare coins in excellent condition or those that are exceptional in some way are considered collectibles and can often have values that are far higher than either their face value or the value of the precious metals they contain. However, just because a coin is old does not make it a collectible. Over years of use, coins may develop wear and damage that removes their value to collectors. You’ll sometimes see these coins referred to as fair or cull condition. That doesn’t mean that they are worthless, however. Many silver coins have value because of the metal they are made of.

Junk silver refers to any high silver content coin that is not considered collectable and that has no numismatic value. In general, coins that are 90 percent silver are desirable to silver investors and silver coin dealers who buy for silver content.[1]

Other coins have lower percentages of silver content and are therefore less valuable. For instance, “war nickels” produced between 1942 and 1945 are only 35 percent silver. Similarly, Kennedy half dollars produced between 1965-1970 are only 40 percent silver and may not be as desirable to those seeking old silver coins.

Pre-1965 silver coins are often what buyers and sellers are referring to when they say “junk silver.” They can often be most easily distinguished from lower silver-content coins by appearance. The edge will not show the telltale copper streak but will appear silver all the way through. Dates are the other tip off. In general, a coin produced before 1964 has 90 percent silver content.[2]

Pre-1965 Junk Silver Coins That Contain 90 Percent Silver
Coin Name:Dates Minted:More Information:
Barber half dollar1892-1915
Barber quarter1892-1915
Barber dime1892-1916
Walking Liberty half dollar1916-1947Collectors of American Silver Eagle bullion coins will recognize the face of this coin.
Franklin half dollar1948-1963
Kennedy half dollar1964Minted with 90 percent silver in 1964. These silver coins are similar in appearance to modern half dollars, so they periodically show up in change and coin rolls.
Standing Liberty quarter1916-1930Because the dates were printed higher than on other coins, they are frequently completely worn off.
Washington quarter1932 and from 1934-1964Minted with 90 percent silver content in 1932 and from 1934-1964. This quarter has the same appearance as later quarters.
Seated Liberty dime1836-1891
Mercury dime1916-1945
Roosevelt dime1946-1964

American 90 percent silver coins remained steady in weight and silver content across production. Half dollars contain .3617 troy ounces. Quarters have .1808 troy ounces of silver. Dimes include .0723 troy ounces.

What Are Junk Silver Coins Worth?

The values of junk silver coins go up and down with the spot price of silver. Since they have 90 percent silver content, they are worth 90 percent of the current spot price. Often, you will see them priced based on the face value of the coins. Every dollar of face value contains .715 ounces of pure silver; so, two half dollars would add up to .715, as would an assortment of quarters and dimes. A junk silver bag with $1,000 face value contains 715 ounces of silver and would be priced accordingly.[3] When purchasing, you may also encounter a small premium.

Where to Sell Junk Silver Coins

While those who wish to sell junk silver coins have a range of options, they’ll find that some are more secure and profitable than others. For example, auction sites often come with fees and competition that could result in profit losses, and it can be difficult to verify the reputation and trustworthiness of forum participants.

If you’re looking for a fair and honest appraisal of your coins or a place to sell silver, you might want to consider a reputable coin dealer. The experts at Scottsdale Bullion & Coin employ state-of-the-art purity testing equipment for the silver coins they evaluate, ensuring they pay sellers for the true value of their junk silver coins. Scottsdale Bullion & Coin also offers direct cash payment for your old silver coins.

Do you have potential treasures in your change jar? We’d love to talk. Get in touch to discuss the coins you have and how much they may be worth. Call us at 1-888-812-9892.

Additional Sources  
[1] http://www.silvermonthly.com/junk-silver-coins-90-silver/
[2] http://www.junksilverguide.com/index.php#list
[3] http://about.ag/silverbags.htm