Before you read this article, let’s assure you of at least one thing: there’s absolutely nothing “junky” about junk silver! We’ll explain all this, including what junk silver is, why one should buy it, what to look for, and where and how to buy it.

bag of 90 percent silver coins

90% silver coins are generally sold in bulk bags by face value.

What Is Junk Silver?

"Junk silver" is any pre-1965 United States coins made from 90% silver. Specifically, junk silver coins hold no collectible or numismatic value. They are also frequently called "Constitutional silver."

While these terms can in theory refer to any 90% silver coin from the vast pre-1965 U.S. numismatic catalog, in most cases they refer to a very small number of common-date silver coins. These are typically:

Sometimes older coins may be included in the junk silver category, including Barber coinage and Standing Liberty quarters. As time goes on, though, this is becoming more an exception than a rule.

Increasingly, well-worn Morgan and Peace silver dollars are not included in junk silver lots. Even heavily circulated or damaged silver dollars tend to carry at least nominal market value beyond their intrinsic metal values. However, some junk silver lots have been known to include these.

While junk silver is typically traded only on the basis of silver metal value, those who are interested in finding out what a junk silver lot may include should ask the dealer offering the coins.

photograph of various 90 percent silver coins

Some investors will collect an assortment of different 90% silver coin denominations, from dimes to half dollars.

Where Is the Best Place to Buy Junk Silver?

The best place to buy junk silver coins is from a professional bullion dealer or local coin shop.

Buying From a Local Coin Shop (LCS)

In most cases, junk silver coins will be sold by face value in bulk bags. (Each $1 of face value generally sells for about $25 at the time of writing.) You may also be able to buy junk silver coins in rolls. Each bank roll will contain a specific amount of one denomination of coin, such as 50 dimes or 40 quarters.

You’re going to find a lot of junk silver offers out there, and it’s understandable that you’re looking for the cheapest silver you can buy. But beware of deals that seem too good to be true.

It’s unfortunate that some of the cheap junk silver lots being offered out there are simply no good – fake silver, the number of coins received coming in a little short of the advertised amount, stolen goods, etc. Look for fairly priced (not necessarily “cheap”) silver and buy it from a coin dealer whom you can trust.

Buying From a Good Silver Dealer

Some of the hallmarks of a good silver dealer are many years of experience, a physical address, and a willingness to answer questions and educate the buyer. Some of the best silver dealers are also members of esteemed industry organizations such as:

  • National Coin & Bullion Association (formerly known as Industry Council for Tangible Assets, or ICTA)
  • National Inflation Association (NIA)
  • Certified Coin Exchange (CCE)
  • Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS)
  • Numismatic Guaranty Company (NGC)
  • American Numismatic Association (ANA).

Buy U.S. Constitutional Silver Coins (90% Silver) from Gainesville Coins by following the link or shopping below:

Why Should Someone Buy Junk Silver?

At its core, junk silver offers something that many other types of silver deals may not – legal tender U.S. silver coinage at some of the lowest price points available.

Many people want to know about junk silver, which is one of the more popular areas of bullion investing. The concept of junk silver is particularly something of a mystery to some buyers, especially those who are unaccustomed to purchasing precious metals – maybe it’s something about the word “junk” that some find confusing... After all, how could anything about silver be junky?

Junk Silver Coins Have a Legal Tender Face Value

Why does buying a bunch of circulated, common-date, pre-1965 silver coins behoove the investor? Of utmost importance is the built-in guarantee that U.S. silver coinage offers. The buyer can know what to expect from their silver coins while resting assured the coins really are 90% silver, as promised and backed by the United States government.

Kennedy half dollar junk silver coin

Worn Kennedy half dollars are considered "junk silver," as they were struck from .900 fine silver in 1964.

People buying silver coinage for catastrophic emergencies may like the idea that a 90% silver dime or 90% silver quarter could potentially be traded in exchange for goods or services. At the very least, junk silver coinage carries a still-monetized face value. This means that the value of the coins will never dive below the stated denomination.

While it’s unlikely that silver prices will ever again dip below the $1.29-per-ounce threshold deemed to be where intrinsic metal values exceed the face value of 90% silver U.S. coins, stranger things have happened.

What Junk Silver Coins Should You Look For?

One of the most important things to people who buy junk silver is getting the best price on their purchase. Frequently, the greater the quantity of junk silver bought in a single deal, the lower the price per coin, per roll, or per other unit of purchase. Keep this in mind when planning to buy silver and consider buying as much as you can budget at any single time to improve your odds of scoring a better deal.

Another thing to keep in mind? The type of coin you’re buying. Some junk silver dealers provide options as to which denominations are included in the deal. Do you want a mix of different coin denominations, such as dimes, quarters, and halves? Or are you hoping to procure only 90% silver dimes, only 90% silver quarters, etc.?

For more answers to frequently asked questions about junk silver coins, follow the link to check out our article on the topic.


Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a journalist, editor, and blogger who has won multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He has also authored numerous books, including works profiling the history of the United States Mint and United States coinage.

Read more about collecting coins and buying bullion from the experts at Gainesville Coins:

Junk Silver FAQS: Must-Know Facts About 90% Silver Coins

15 Best Coins to Collect in 2023

The Most Valuable Kennedy Half Dollars

Key Date Mercury Dimes: 1916-D, 1921, 1921-D

Silver Bar Buyer's Guide: How & Where to Buy Silver Bars

How to Buy American Gold Eagles: Complete Guide

Best Silver Bars to Buy: Conclusive List

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