Junk Silver Coins

90% Silver Coins Qty ASW (oz)
$1 Face 0.7150
Half-Dollar 0.3575
Quarter 0.1788
Dime 0.0715
Total Weight 1.3228
*Total Worth

* The Total Worth is based on the current spot price of $20.55.

  • Silver Spot Price:
    $20.55
    -0.05659981
     

Junk Silver Coins

“Junk silver” refers to old U.S. coins minted before 1965 that contain actual silver. These are dimes, quarters, and half dollars that are 90% silver by composition. Sometimes, 35% silver nickels from WWII and 40% silver halves are also considered junk silver coins.

Coins classified as junk silver are usually well-circulated and have their finer details worn away. This generally precludes them from attaining any collectible value, which is why investors buy junk silver coins as bullion for their 90% pure silver content. The price of junk silver is tied closely to the melt value of the underlying precious metal since these coins have no numismatic appeal.

How Do You Identify Junk Silver Coins?

During the 1960s, the price of silver increased, making silver coins a costly expenditure for the U.S. government. Even though this prompted the U.S. Mint to cease production of 90% silver coins for circulation after 1964, you will still on rare occasions come across junk silver in change. Most often, it will be a silver Washington quarter or silver Roosevelt dime. Once you know what to look for, it is rather easy to determine if a coin is silver or not. Here are three reliable ways to check your change for a junk silver coin:

How to check for junk silver
  • Stack up your coins and inspect them from the side. If you see any brown coloring showing through, it means these are regular copper-nickel coins. Any coins with edges free from such coloration are likely to be silver instead of nickel clad. However, half dollars can be deceiving! Some Kennedy halves may have this brown edge, but are in fact 40% silver. Read more about this caveat on our blog.
  • Drop your coin on a hard surface, like a wood table or tile floor. If it contains actual silver rather than a copper base, you will hear a noticeable difference in the ring of the metal coin. It will sound more high-pitched and less like a game token.
  • If you are still unsure, simply check the year of issue. If the date is pre-1965, and the coin is a dime or any larger denomination, then you can bet it's 90% silver! These coins are typically sold in rolls of dimes totaling $5 in face value; rolls of quarters totaling $10 in face value; bags of half dollars with $1 in face value; and various mixed bags of 90% silver coins.

These rolls and bags of junk silver generally have an assortment of designs from each denomination included, as the generally uniform silver content of these coins is all that matters to most buyers. For each denomination, the possible types of silver coins you may encounter include:

War Nickle

40% Junk Silver and 35% Silver War Nickels

In addition to ninety-percent junk silver coins, you can also opt for 40% silver Kennedy half dollars or 35% silver “War Nickels.”

During the Second World War, the U.S. government diverted its supply of nickel to industrial processes for the war effort. Believe it or not, as a result Jefferson five cent coins were minted from 35% silver instead of nickel. These “War Nickels” were produced from 1942-1945 and are distinguished by having a P, D, or S mintmark above the Monticello building on the reverse.

From 1965-1970, after the U.S. government halted production of 90% silver coins, the new Kennedy half dollars were the only silver coins produced by the U.S. Mint for circulation. These half dollars were copper clad but contained 40% silver. (Kennedy halves containing 90% silver were only minted in 1964, the design's first year of issue.) Then, in 1971, President Richard Nixon took the United States off of the “gold standard” for good, replacing all circulating U.S. silver coinage with fiat currency.

Buy Junk Silver

Before buying junk silver coins, you need to understand what they're worth. Luckily, junk silver prices are fairly straightforward. These non-collectible 90% silver coins are common date coins lacking numismatic value. When you buy junk silver, you can expect to pay only a small premium above the spot price of silver, which can change depending upon market circumstances. One thing to take note of: no matter the quantity, you will never pay a sales tax on junk silver coins at Gainesville Coins because they are U.S. legal tender and exempt from sales taxes in Florida. Due to these factors, junk silver is, ounce for ounce, perhaps the most inexpensive way of accumulating physical silver bullion. This makes pre-1965 junk silver a popular choice with precious metal investors, stackers, and preppers.

There is a simple way to figure out how much actual silver is in a pre-1965 U.S. coin. Using the method explained below, and the table showing junk silver prices, you can easily calculate the worth of your silver coins. Our Silver Calculator will also automatically determine the value of your junk silver based on the current silver price.

The U.S. Mint made the silver content of its coins proportional to their denomination prior to 1965. So, the quarter (25 cents) had 2.5x the silver of a dime (10 cents); the half dollar (50 cents) had twice the silver of the quarter; and so on. For each $1 of face value of 90% silver coins, there is approximately 0.715 troy oz of silver, no matter what denominations make up that $1 in face value. Although wear may have slightly reduced the amount of pure silver in some ninety-percent silver coins, this typically accounts for less than a 5% loss of silver weight. Any junk silver coin will still closely match the figures given in the chart below.

Coin Composition ASW (troy oz) Melt Value
Jefferson “War” Nickel (1942-1945) 56% Cu, 35% Ag, 9% Mn 0.0563 ASW x spot
Barber Dime 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.0715 ASW x spot
Mercury Dime 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.0715 ASW x spot
Roosevelt Dime 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.0715 ASW x spot
Barber Quarter 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.1788 ASW x spot
Standing Liberty Quarter 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.1788 ASW x spot
Washington Quarter 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.1788 ASW x spot
Barber Half Dollar 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.3575 ASW x spot
Walking Liberty Half Dollar 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.3575 ASW x spot
Franklin Half Dollar 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.3575 ASW x spot
Kennedy Half Dollar (1964) 90% Ag, 10% Cu 0.3575 ASW x spot
Kennedy Half Dollar (1965-1970) 60% Cu, 40% Ag 0.1475 ASW x spot

Following this pattern, junk silver is sold in change rolls or bags containing an exact face value of coins. This is the most common way to acquire junk silver. No matter what combination of denominations comprise the total face value of the bag, roughly the same amount of silver will be present. Some junk silver bags will be mixed, and others may contain “only halves” or “only dimes.” Regardless, you're paying for the total silver content when buying junk silver.

Compared to other forms of silver bullion, the price of junk silver bags include extremely low premiums. Bags of junk silver coins are generally sold in increments of $100, $500 or $1,000 in face value, totaling 71.5 oz, 357.5 oz and 715 oz of actual silver weight, respectively. When you buy junk silver in bags, you can take advantage of savings with tiered pricing. We also offer smaller junk silver bags for sale that add up to $5 in face value or $10 in face value so you can use these savings to buy additional silver and maximize your purchase.

Rolls Of Junk Silver Coins

Junk Silver Coins

Advantages of Junk Silver

For the precious metals investor, bags of junk silver often represent the best possible deal on silver bullion. While any investor or prepper investing in silver ought to look for ways to get the most “bang for their buck,” there are additional reasons why pre-1965 junk silver appeals to people who may even be unfamiliar with buying or trading coins. First, silver tends to hold its value better than the dollar against the effects of inflation. In 1964, a silver dime was worth 10 cents, or equivalent to its face value; today, the same silver dime's underlying metal is worth more than a dozen times its face value. This means it takes more dollars to buy the same quantity of silver today, partly because of inflation. You decide which of these two—dollar bills or physical silver—you would rather have for the long run.

Buying junk silver is also a popular way to prepare for an uncertain future. Because they contain pure silver, these coins are perfect for barter during tough economic times. In general, especially since it is inexpensive compared to other precious metals like gold and platinum, silver is an excellent barter metal. However, it is cumbersome to try and break silver bullion into smaller pieces if you only need to trade small portions at a time. Not only can junk silver coins be exchanged based on their metallic content, but they can also be used piecemeal for even the smallest transactions. Having silver for barter that is conveniently broken into proportional denominations may come in handy in an emergency scenario down the road.

Buy Junk Silver Coins

Why Buy From Gainesville Coins?

At Gainesville Coins, we always work to provide our customers with the highest quality bullion products at a great price. Catering to your needs is our primary goal. We hand-check all of the coins in our junk silver rolls and bags so you won't mistakenly find any 40% silver or clad coins mixed in with your 90% silver. You can trust that when you shop for 90% junk silver at Gainesville Coins, you will always find “the right coin, at the right price.”

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Junk Silver Infographic

This handy infographic shows how to easily check your change at a glance for 90% silver coins that were minted before 1965. It also covers 40% silver dollars and half dollars, and the 35% silver "War Nickels" made in WWII.

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Date Modified: April 28th, 2014