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

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez
Published July 20, 2020
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Many people have all kinds of questions about 90% junk silver coins. We at Gainesville Coins would love to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about these silver coins here.

What are junk silver coins?

Junk silver coins have two main characteristics. 1.) They are common-date silver coins. 2.) They are encountered in grades usually just below a threshold considered collectible for its type.

Silver Washington Quarter

Silver Washington Quarter

Among the most widely sold junk silver coins are the 90% silver Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarters, later-date (post-1933) Walking Liberty half dollars, Franklin half dollars, and 1964 Kennedy half dollars that grade below Very Fine-20 to Extremely Fine-40. This isn’t necessarily a rule, but it’s a fair representation of a typical junk silver coin.

Technically, any silver coin worth only its bullion value could be considered junk silver. However, even common-date Barber coinage and Standing Liberty quarters are numismatically collectible in the grade of About Good-3 or even cull state. Thus these earlier pieces are generally not included in generic junk silver offerings.

BOTTOM LINE: Any silver coin worth only its bullion value could be considered "junk silver," but the phrase usually refers to common 90% silver U.S. coins.

Buying Junk Silver Coins

If you're interested in buying junk silver, you can click the button above to visit our category page or check out some of the products listed here:

For more frequently asked questions, read on below!

What is the best junk silver coin to buy?

There may not be a "best" junk silver coin to buy. Yet you will often pay a slightly lower numismatic premium, gram for gram, when you buy coins in bulk.

Some of the silver coins with the highest numismatic premiums per coin (ergo, most expensive) are the 35% silver war nickels of 1942 through 1945 and 40% silver Kennedy half dollars struck from 1965 through 1970.

Surely, these are worthwhile coins to buy! But you might find you get a little more silver for your money when buying 90% junk silver coins. These include pre-1965 dimes, quarters, and half dollars.

BOTTOM LINE: In general, 90% junk silver coins are more cost-effective than coins with lower purities.

What US coins are 90% silver?

A bunch! In fact, all dimes, quarters, half dollars, and dollar coins minted for circulation before 1965 are made from a 90% silver composition. The exception is if those denominations struck before the 1840s, when they were minted from an 89.24% silver composition.

Here is a list of all United States 90% silver coins minted for circulation during the 20th century:

  • Barber dimes (1892–1916)
  • Mercury dimes (1916–1945)
  • Roosevelt dimes (1946–1964)
  • Barber quarters (1892–1916)
  • Standing Liberty quarters (1916–1930)
  • Washington quarters (1932–1964)
  • Barber half dollars (1892–1915)
  • Walking Liberty half dollars (1916–1947)
  • Franklin half dollars (1948–1963)
  • Kennedy half dollars (1964)
  • Morgan dollars (1878–1921)
  • Peace dollars (1921–1935)

Again, this list above includes only coins struck for circulation. There are many collector-only strikes that have been made since the 1980s and 1990s that are 90% silver (or purer) in composition but were never formally released into or intended for regular circulation.

BOTTOM LINE: All U.S. coins with a face value above 10¢ that were made before 1965 are 90% silver.

How much silver is in a $1,000 bag?

A $1,000 bag of silver means there are enough silver coins in that bag to equate to $1,000 face value. This may represent any combination of coins to arrive at that figure.

If all coins in a $1,000 face value bag of silver consist of just one denomination, the number of coins is as follows:

  • dimes: 10,000
  • quarters: 4,000
  • half dollars: 2,000
  • silver dollars: 1,000

Some coin dealers will offer bags of silver composed of only one denomination. Others will offer so-called mixed bags, using a variety of coins to equate $1,000 in face value.

bag of 90 percent silver

Bag of 90% silver coins

A typical $1,000 bag of silver contains approximately 723 troy ounces of silver. However, this assumes the coins in that bag are in average-circulated condition. In other words, they're not overly worn. A bag full of 2,000 slick (worn nearly flat) half dollars will surely contain less than 723 ounces of silver. That's due to the metal loss through wear over time.

This reason in itself explains why it's absolutely critical to buy silver from a reputable coin shop or bullion dealer. These sellers can be trusted to provide a fair deal and quality coins, even in a sight-unseen transaction such as one involving a sealed bag of silver.

BOTTOM LINE: A bag of $1,000 face value junk silver coins will contain slightly less than 723 troy ounces of fine silver.

Should I buy junk silver coins?

If you’re looking to invest in precious metals but don’t have a lot of money to buy gold coins, platinum coins, or other types of more expensive bullion items, then junk silver coins may be worth buying. There are many advantages to buying junk silver coins. In addition to their relatively low nominal cost, an old junk silver coin is just that—money. It can be spent like any other coin.

Some people prefer to buy junk silver if they are ever in a dire situation in which they would need to barter silver coins for survival items like food, water, blankets, lodging, or other necessities. There is also the remote—but nonetheless possible—chance that the price of silver could drop below the face value of the coin. In that case, the coin still has guaranteed legal-tender monetary value.

Another benefit to buying junk silver coins is that they enjoy a crossover market with coin collectors. Many collectors seek such silver coins—even common-date, low-grade pieces—to fill holes in albums, folders, and displays.

There is also the possibility that a keen-eyed collector (or silver stacker) may spot a valuable error or variety on one of these junk silver coins. It would be a worthy find that might make the coin redeemable for far more than its intrinsic bullion value!

BOTTOM LINE: There are a variety of compelling reasons to buy junk silver coins.

Should I buy silver bars or coins?

It’s a question of whether you would rather buy silver at the lowest possible premium or pay a little more but also enjoy better liquidity. Gram for gram, silver bars as well as silver rounds are usually cheaper than legal-tender silver coins.

This is so for a variety of reasons, including low production costs and processing fees. There is also a much smaller pool of collectors and potential buyers. If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest method to buy silver, silver bars and rounds are often the way to go.

But silver coins, for their slightly higher price, offer many things a silver bar can’t. For one, coins are legal-tender money, while bullion bars aren’t. You really can’t pay for a meal at a restaurant with a silver bar. You can’t trade silver bars at your bank to deposit funds into your savings account. But with silver coins? You can do all those things and a whole lot more because they’re real, hard money. You may not wish to spend your silver coins at face value. But if you have to, you can.

Silver coins are also much more widely recognizable to buyers than silver bars. Some folks may not trust buying a silver bar—especially one from an off-brand. This can make a silver bar harder to sell at fair market value, especially if you’re trying to sell to someone outside the bullion industry.

But a 1939 Mercury dime, 1946 silver Washington quarter, 1947 Walking Liberty half dollar, 1958 Franklin half dollar, or 1964 Kennedy half dollar? You can bet your bottom dollar that virtually everybody will recognize those coins and understand their inherent value.

You can read more about comparing silver coins vs. silver bars by following this link.

BOTTOM LINE: Silver bars are generally less expensive that comparable silver coins, but coins enjoy better liquidity.

walking liberty half dollars

Junk silver Walking Liberty half dollars

Is it better to buy junk silver or bullion?

It all depends. First, let’s differentiate junk silver and bullion here for the purpose of answering this question.

Technically all coins with precious metal content could be considered “bullion.” For the sake of clarity, we'll classify junk silver as something distinct from investment-grade, high-purity silver bullion.

Most silver bullion coins are sold in weights of no less than one ounce. That’s much heavier than the amount of pure silver in a dime, quarter, half dollar, or even a standard pre-1971 silver dollar. So, you will usually have to pay more in the absolute sense per coin to buy silver bullion coinage versus what you might spend buying individual silver dimes, quarters, half dollars, and silver dollars.

Of course, most silver bullion bars and coins have a higher precious metal content than the typical 90% silver junk coin. This can mean paying a lower numismatic premium gram for gram per coin than you might spend on buying smaller pre-1965 silver coins.

In other words, you’ll likely pay a lower price for each gram of silver in a silver bullion coin versus what you’d pay for each gram of silver in a lot of junk silver coins. And an added benefit of buying silver bullion coins? Many are eligible for inclusion in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs).

Still, junk silver coins have their own neat perks. They are nostalgic. They can be easily spent as money, which could become useful in emergency scenarios or disasters. And 90% silver coins do have a numismatic crossover appeal that helps to widen their market base (and enhance liquidity).

So, there isn’t necessarily always a better buy. The decision to accumulate junk silver or bullion is a determination you should make by defining what your silver investing goals are. Ask yourself: What are you willing to risk in terms of cost and liquidity? What financial goals are you hoping to achieve over the long run?

BOTTOM LINE: Junk silver coins and investment-grade bullion each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

What silver coins should I buy?

The prices of silver coins are all over the board. Some are really cheap while others are quite expensive. However, price alone may not dictate what silver coins you should buy. You might care less about the price of your silver coins and rather spend more attention buying a certain type of silver coin(s).

As silver investing goes, sometimes it's not just about stacking the tallest pile of silver at the lowest price. It's also about buying a certain type of silver coin—or silver product—you like and have faith in as an investment. They can act as a hedge against inflation over the duration of months, years, or decades.

On the whole, 90% junk silver coins are affordable for the average consumer. Still, they may cost more, gram for gram, than most investment-quality bullion coins, such as the American Silver Eagle. Both types of silver coin are highly liquid, but the 90% silver coins can be more easily spent as regular money in an emergency. They also have the crossover marketability as collectible coins, with the chance that some may contain overlooked varieties or errors.

However, American Silver Eagles have a higher silver purity (.999 fine versus 90% silver for the pre-1965 circulating coins). Silver Eagles can be used in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), as well.

Additionally, Canadian Silver Maple Leafs and other popular silver bullion coins are highly liquid. This means they have a large, ready marketplace. These factors can help you determine what type of silver coin is best for your investment goals.

BOTTOM LINE: There are many different types of silver coins; each caters to different tastes and investing goals.

Selling Junk Silver Coins

How much do you get for junk silver coins?

Someone selling 90% junk silver coins will typically receive an amount at or just below the current spot price.

silver half dollars

Silver half dollars

For example, let's say you’re selling a roll of 90% silver pre-1965 Washington quarters and silver is $20 per ounce. The 40 Washington quarters in that roll are worth a cumulative total of approximately $144.68. You may expect to make somewhere between $130 and $140 if you’re selling to a standard retail dealer or bullion broker. You will most likely not receive full melt value in that scenario. Why? Because the coin shop, bullion broker, or other business owner you’re selling your coins to needs to cover overhead costs and still make a living, too. Paying these costs helps the business stick around so you’ve got a place to sell your junk silver coins!

BOTTOM LINE: Expect to be paid just under melt value for your junk silver coins when you sell.

How do I sell my silver?

You can sell your silver by offering it to a coin dealer or bullion broker. These are the types of professionals who are best trained and experienced in knowing the true value of the silver items you’re offering to sell them. They can give you the best price, too.

Before visiting a coin dealer or bullion agent, be sure to call or send them an email to find out if you have to make an appointment to visit. You should also make sure they buy the type of silver items you wish to sell.

BOTTOM LINE: The easiest method for selling your silver is to consult a reputable coin dealer or bullion broker.

What is the best way to sell silver coins?

Some silver coins are worth only their melt value, while others are scarcer or higher quality and may be worth significantly more. A reputable and skilled coin dealer will be able to tell the difference between the silver coins that are worth merely their intrinsic metal content versus those worth a significant numismatic premium.

Therefore, the best way to sell silver coins is to take them to a coin dealer or bullion broker who is also knowledgeable in rare and collectible silver coins.

BOTTOM LINE: The best way to sell your silver coins is to consult a reputable coin dealer or bullion broker.

Is it better to sell junk silver coins for melt?

Some silver coins are worth more for their numismatic attributes than for their precious metal content. This is particularly true with higher-grade silver coins. It also applies to older (early 20th-century and earlier) coinage, or scarce dates.

If you have the time to go through your 90% silver coin holdings, it might be worth the effort searching for overlooked scarce dates and varieties. If your silver coins are ordinary and neither scarce nor boasting any varieties or errors, it’s probably better to sell your coins for as close to melt value as possible.

BOTTOM LINE: Be sure to check your junk silver coins for rarities, varieties, and errors if you have the time. Otherwise, selling junk silver for melt is fine.

Where can I sell my junk silver?

Coin shops and bullion brokerage firms are usually the best places to sell your silver coins. Such places are generally staffed by experts who know the current prices of silver and can give you a fair offer.

Be sure you only sell your silver to reputable coin dealers or bullion brokers who are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). These dealers are known and trusted by coin collectors, precious metals investors, and others involved in the bullion industry.

BOTTOM LINE: You can always sell your junk silver for a fair price at a reputable coin dealer or bullion broker.

Where can I sell my junk silver coins for melt value?

You can sell your silver coins for melt value by taking them to a coin dealer or bullion broker who is offering to buy silver coins. Bear in mind that bullion businesses need to pay for overhead costs, advertising fees, and other day-to-day necessities. Therefore, they may not be able to pay exactly melt value but are usually offering to pay within a few percentage points of that price point.

BOTTOM LINE: Coin dealers and bullion brokers will pay the best price for your junk silver coins.

What do pawn shops pay for junk silver?

Pawn shops will pay different prices for silver depending on the individual store, and these prices change day by day. However, it is not recommended to sell your silver—or any bullion or rare and collectible coins—to pawn shops. A typical pawn shop’s main purpose is to offer collateral-based loans.

While many pawnbrokers are reputable and upstanding businesspersons, their primary concern isn’t necessarily in buying and selling bullion items. Just as you wouldn’t go to your local auto detailer to fix your car’s transmission, you shouldn’t be buying and selling silver at a pawn shop. It’s best to visit a reputable coin dealer or bullion broker to buy or sell silver.

BOTTOM LINE: Pawnbrokers are not necessarily coin and bullion experts, so you should avoid selling your junk silver to a pawn shop.

Junk Silver Prices & Investing

stacks of barber quarters

Stacks of silver Barber quarters

How much should I pay for junk silver coins?

Bullion prices vary day to day, so publishing a fixed dollar amount here that you should pay for buying 90% silver is infeasible and impractical. The price would be outdated almost the moment this webpage was published.

What you should consider when deciding what a fair price is to pay for junk silver coins is the current spot price. Try paying as close to that figure as you can. Remember that you’re likely to encounter a small retail premium above that regardless of where you shop.

BOTTOM LINE: Try to pay as close to spot price as possible when buying junk silver coins.

What is a fair premium for junk silver?

If you’re paying less than 10% over spot for junk silver then you’re doing extremely well. Of course, this assumes that the silver coins you’re buying in such a transaction are of decent quality. That means the coins aren’t too well worn, damaged, or otherwise pose a risk that you’re actually getting substantially less silver than you would ordinarily expect for the deal.

Remember, you get what you pay for! As long as you’re paying less than 15% to 20% over spot price, you are in fair pricing territory. Bear in mind that investing in silver isn’t usually a game of profitable overnight flips. Many folks who buy silver do so for the long haul. They wait for long-term price appreciations or other acute market factors before making the decision to sell their silver.

BOTTOM LINE: 15% to 20% over spot is a fair premium for junk silver.

How do I get silver below spot price?

As someone buying silver in a retail setting, the only way you can reasonably expect to find silver for below spot is to locate silver coins in circulation. Effectively paying only 10 cents for a 90% silver dime, 25 cents for a 90% silver quarter, or 50 cents for a 90% silver half dollar is a pretty good bargain, wouldn’t you say?

With a little luck, you might just land such finds in pocket change. Silver coins do turn up from time to time in circulation. You can increase your odds of finding silver coins at face value by searching rolls and boxes of coins from your bank.

BOTTOM LINE: The only way to get silver below spot price is to find a silver coin in pocket change.

Should I buy silver rounds or junk silver coins?

Both silver rounds and silver coins have their pros and cons. Like silver bars, silver rounds represent one of the cheapest avenues for buying silver. However, they aren’t legal tender and they aren’t necessarily as easy to sell as silver coins.

Silver coins usually do come with higher premiums, but they are legal tender coins that can be spent as money. Silver coins are very liquid, in large part thanks to their crossover appeal with coin collectors and widespread popularity in the general marketplace.

BOTTOM LINE: Junk silver coins are usually more expensive than silver rounds of comparable weight, but they are also more liquid.

Are 90% silver coins a good investment?

We cannot predict whether you will see a return on your profit if you buy 90% silver coins. But it is the historical case that 90% silver coins have performed quite well for many people who have invested in them.

Remember, 90% silver coins have at least two strong market areas: the precious metals buyer and coin collectors. At times when silver coins temporarily drop in value due to the price of silver falling, one might be able to recoup those losses by selling the coins to numismatic collectors who need silver coins of certain dates and mintmarks to fill holes in their collections.

BOTTOM LINE: Junk silver coins are one of the most cost-effective ways of investing in silver.

90_percent_silver_coin

90 percent silver coins

Why is junk silver so expensive?

Junk silver coins may be more expensive than silver rounds or silver bars, but they carry several advantages:

  • Junk silver coins are legal tender, so they can be easily spent as money.
  • Pre-1965 United States silver coins have the backing of the United States government.
  • 90% silver coins enjoy a huge numismatic market, meaning there are more avenues for selling your junk silver coins.

Depending on whether you’re trying to accumulate silver as cheaply as possible or hoping to maximize on liquidity, junk silver may or may not be the best investment vehicle for you. It’s nevertheless one of the most popular and affordable methods for storing silver.

BOTTOM LINE: Junk silver coins offer several advantages over generic silver bars or silver rounds, and thus command slightly higher prices.

Junk Silver Coin Values

Are old silver coins worth anything? What is the value of old silver coins?

Yes! All dimes, quarters, and half dollars made after the 1830s and before 1965 are made from a 90% silver composition. These are automatically worth at least their melt value—i.e. many times their face value.

Some of these old silver coins are rare and valuable and thus worth even more than their silver content. You can search our ever-growing list of articles that address which of these coins are collectible. There are also many guidebooks that can teach you which silver coins are worth saving due to their inherent rarity and numismatic value.

BOTTOM LINE: Old silver coins are automatically worth at least their melt value, and often much more.

How much is a silver dime worth?

mercury silver dimes

90% silver Mercury dimes

This largely depends on the date, mintmark, and condition of the coin. In most cases, well-worn common-date silver dimes are worth prices quite near their spot intrinsic values.

How much is a 90% silver dime worth? How much is a junk silver dime worth in scrap?

The value of a 90% silver dime can change literally minute by minute based on the prevailing price of silver—a commodity whose value constantly fluctuates. However, you might find this chart below with silver dime value approximations useful:

Junk Silver Dime Prices

Silver Price Per Ounce
90% Silver Dime Value
$10
72¢
$12
87¢
$14
$1.01
$16
$1.16
$18
$1.30
$20
$1.45
$22
$1.59

How much is a silver quarter worth?

The date, mintmark, and individual condition of a coin are all factors in determining what it is worth. However, most well-circulated, common-date silver quarters made since the mid-1930s are worth their intrinsic metal value.

washington silver quarters

Washington silver quarters

What is the melt value of a junk silver quarter?

Values of 90% silver quarters are always on the move with the ever-changing metals market. So, one way to answer this question is to provide a graph of what a typical silver quarter is worth in terms of its silver content. You'll find these calculations below, based on different silver price points:

Junk Silver Quarter Prices

Silver Price Per Ounce
90% Silver Quarter Value
$10
$1.81
$12
$2.17
$14
$2.53
$16
$2.89
$18
$3.26
$20
$3.62
$22
$3.98

How much is a silver 50 cent worth?

As with any coin, the date, mintmark, and condition are all important factors in determining the value of any individual half dollar, including silver half dollars. Most well-circulated common-date silver half dollars made since 1934 are worth their intrinsic silver value.

kennedy half dollars

Kennedy half dollars

What is a 90% silver half dollar worth?

Want to know what a 90% silver half dollar is worth? Most circulated common-date silver half dollars made since the 1930s are worth only their intrinsic value. The guide below will help give you an idea what your halves may be worth contingent on the current price of silver per ounce.

Junk Silver Half Dollar Prices

Silver Price Per Ounce
90% Silver Half Dollar Value
40% Silver Half Dollar Value (1965–1970)
$10
$3.62
$1.48
$12
$4.34
$1.77
$14
$5.06
$2.07
$16
$5.79
$2.37
$18
$6.51
$2.66
$20
$7.23
$2.96
$22
$7.96
$3.25

Other Questions About Junk Silver

How do you tell if a coin is silver or clad?

In the most basic sense, you can usually determine whether a dime, quarter, half dollar, or dollar coin is clad or silver based on its date. Dimes and quarters produced before 1965 are made from silver. All those made afterward, except for some collector-only issues, are clad.

Half dollars struck before 1965 are also 90% silver, while those struck between 1965 through 1970 are made from a debased 40% silver clad composition. All circulating half dollars issued from 1971 to date are made from copper-nickel clad.

Meanwhile, silver dollars minted for circulation up through 1935 are struck from a 90% silver composition. Circulating issues made afterward were produced in clad.

There are a couple caveats here. For one, there are those aforementioned silver-based, collector-only issues. Then there are a handful of errors involving coins that were intended to be struck in clad format but accidentally struck on silver planchets.

Any coins you suspect may be off-metal errors or transitional errors should be weighed to determine their composition and submitted to a trusted numismatic professional, such as a major third-party coin grading service, for further testing, authentication, and official attribution.

BOTTOM LINE: Simply checking the date of a coin (pre-1965 or post-1965) will usually tell you if it is clad or silver.

Why did they stop using silver coins?

The United States government stopped making silver coins for circulation because it got too expensive. The price of silver bullion rose above $1 in the early 1960s. That is when the amount of silver in 90% silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars began exceeding the face value on the coins. When this happened, many in the public found it more profitable to hoard these silver coins for their valuable precious metal content rather than to spend the coins for face value.

This helped lead to a major coin shortage in 1963 and 1964. It persuaded government officials to choose a cheaper metal for minting dimes, quarters, and half dollars. (Dollar coins were not officially being produced at this time.) After experimentation, United States Treasury and United States Mint officials decided on a copper-nickel clad composition. Basically, the coins used a pure copper "sandwich" between two copper-nickel outer layers. This was the best choice for minting coinage without compromising the acceptability of these coins in commerce, vending machines, and elsewhere.

BOTTOM LINE: The government stopped using silver coins because their silver content became too valuable (i.e. above their face value).

What year did coins stop using silver?

The United States phased out the use of silver in circulating coins over the course of the 1960s and early 1970s. The first changes came in 1965, when silver was completely removed from new dimes and quarters. Half dollars saw the share of silver in their composition drop from 90% to just 40%.

By the late 1960s, the United States government began planning the full debasement of the half dollar. The last regular-issue 40% silver half dollar was struck in 1970. Beginning in 1971, no circulating United States coinage was struck with any amount of silver.

BOTTOM LINE: U.S. coins stopped using 90% silver in 1964. Half dollars were still 40% silver until 1970.

What year did they stop putting silver in dimes?

The last circulating silver dimes are dated 1964, and the United States Mint began striking copper-nickel clad dimes in 1965.

However, it should be noted that the United States Mint began issuing 90% silver dimes again in 1992 for collectors only. These more recent silver dimes were sold only in proof sets and other special mint products. In other words, they were not formally released into circulation.

junk silver mercury dimes

Junk silver coins

How many junk silver dimes does it take to make an ounce of silver?

A standard pre-1965 90% dime contains 0.07234 troy ounce of pure silver. So, if by “ounce” we mean “troy ounce,” which is the most accurate way to translate the weight of silver coins in the context of an ounce, the calculations suggest we would need 13.8 pre-1965 90% silver dimes to arrive at a full troy ounce.

Since you can’t buy dimes in increments of tenths, it’s best to buy 14 silver dimes if you want to have at least one troy ounce of silver in dimes.

How many junk silver quarters make an ounce?

There is 0.18084 troy ounce of pure silver in a standard pre-1965 90% silver quarter. So, it takes about 5.5 pre-1965 90% silver quarters to have a full troy ounce of silver.

Of course, you can’t really count half a coin in a real-world scenario. So if you want (at least) a full troy ounce of silver in pre-1965 quarters, it’s probably better to go over and aim for six.

Is it illegal to melt junk silver coins?

As of this writing, it is legal to melt old silver coins in the United States. There are presently no silver coins being made for circulation in the United States. Therefore melting silver coins would have virtually no effect on the availability of coins in daily commerce.

Is it worth melting down junk silver coins?

It probably isn't worth the time and hassle of melting down silver coins unless:

  1. You own a melting furnace; and
  2. You plan to use the melted silver for making your own silver items (bars, jewelry, etc.).

In fact, if you’re looking to sell the silver, it will likely be easier to liquidate it in the form of coinage rather than in privately made bars or other objects. While most people know how much silver is in a pre-1965 dime, quarter, or half dollar and can trust the coin to be authentic, there really is no way for someone else to really know the purity or authenticity of your melted silver without assaying it.

What can you do with junk silver?

Besides accumulate or sell it? Well, many people melt their junk silver so it can be sold as scrap or used to make other silver products. In many cases when people sell their junk silver coins, what ends up happening to them later is that they are melted by a refinery to produce silver ingots (silver bars) or other bullion items.

Can I buy silver dollars at the bank?

If this question were asked anytime in the 1960s or earlier, the answer would have been an unequivocal and enthusiastic “YES!” However, over the past decades banks across the United States stopped stocking silver dollars as precious metals prices have increased. Also, the expectation that debts be paid on demand in silver is no longer mandated by United States law.

Still, that does not mean you can’t incidentally find silver coins in bank rolls and in bank boxes. In fact, lucky and persistent silver stackers can occasionally locate 90% silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars as well as other silver coins in rolls and boxes from the bank.

BOTTOM LINE: No, you can't buy silver dollars at the bank anymore.


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.

More from the author:

How Much Is a Silver Dollar Worth?

Silver Coins vs. Silver Bars

What Is a Silver Nickel Worth? (More Than You'd Expect!)

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