What Coins Are Silver? Comprehensive List With Photos

What Coins Are Silver? Comprehensive List With Photos

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez
Published: June 21, 2021
Updated: July 12, 2021
Jump To Section:

What follows is a complete list of regular-issue United States coins that are made with silver.

The U.S. has been minting silver coins since 1794, but you will find that virtually all coin denominations stopped using silver after 1964. The half dollar and dollar coins were reduced from 90% silver to a 40% silver composition for a brief time until the U.S. Mint switched to using cheaper metals in the 1970s.

Today, the only U.S. coins currently in production that contain silver are commemorative coins, special collectibles, and American Silver Eagles.

Comprehensive List of U.S. Silver Coins

The actual silver weight (ASW) is included for each listing. The ASW is the amount of pure silver in each coin.

Three Cent Silvers – 1851–1873

ASW: From 1851 to 1853, 0.0193 troy ounce (0.6 gram). From 1854 to 1873, 0.0217 troy ounce (0.675 gram).

silver trime

The small three-cent silver pieces were also known as "trimes."

Flowing Hair Half Dimes – 1794–1795

ASW: 0.03834 troy ounce (1.1926 grams)

flowing hair dime

These half dimes were among the first coins ever struck at the United States Mint.

Bust Half Dimes – 1796–1837

ASW: 0.03863 troy ounce (1.2015 grams)

draped bust half dime

Both the Draped Bust and Capped Bust half dimes were 89% silver.

Liberty Seated Half Dimes – 1837–1873

ASW: 0.03877 troy ounce (1.206 grams)

seated liberty half dime

Seated Liberty half dimes were the first to use the 90% silver standard.

Wartime Jefferson “Nickels” – 1942–1945

ASW: 0.05626 troy ounce (1.75 grams)

1942 p wartime jefferson nickel

You can distinguish 35% silver "war nickels" by the large mintmark on the reverse.

Bust Dimes – 1796–1837

ASW: 0.07726 troy ounce (2.4 grams)

capped bust dime

Although the diameter of the dime was reduced in 1828, its silver content remained the same.

Seated Liberty Dimes – 1837–1891

ASW: 0.07726 troy ounce (2.4 grams)

seated liberty dime type 1 no stars

The Seated Liberty design was used across many denominations in the 1800s.

Barber Dimes – 1892–1916

ASW: 0.07234 troy ounce (2.25 grams)

1898 barber dime

Barber dimes use slightly less silver than their predecessors.

Mercury Dimes – 1916–1945

ASW: 0.07234 troy ounce (2.25 grams)

1944 mercury dime

The Mercury dime was officially known as the "Winged Liberty" dime, but the nickname stuck.

Roosevelt Dimes – 1946–1964

ASW: 0.07234 troy ounce (2.25 grams)

silver roosevelt dime

The coin's design commemorated the late president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Twenty Cents – 1875–1878

ASW: 0.14468 troy ounce (4.5 grams)

20 cent piece

This short-lived denomination was not popular, and was often confused with the quarter dollar.

Draped Bust Quarters – 1796–1838

ASW: 0.19286 troy ounce (5.99 grams)

1804 draped bust quarter heraldic eagle

Like the first half dimes, the first quarter curiously omitted the face value on the coin.

Seated Liberty Quarters – 1838–1891

ASW: 0.1933 troy ounce (6 grams)

1870 cc seated liberty quarter

Christian Gobrecht's original design was modified several times, resulting in many Seated Liberty varieties.

Barber Quarters – 1892–1916

ASW: 0.18085 troy ounce (5.625 grams)

1913 s barber quarter

The various Barber coinage is named for its designer, Charles E. Barber.

Standing Liberty Quarters – 1916–1930

ASW: 0.18085 troy ounce (5.625 grams)

standing liberty quarter type 1

The Type I Standing Liberty design depicted Lady Liberty's exposed breast before being altered the following year.

Washington Quarters – 1932–1964

ASW: 0.18085 troy ounce (5.625 grams)

1932 s washington quarter

The Washington quarter was originally supposed to be a one-year commemorative, but ultimately the design was kept.

Flowing Hair Half Dollars – 1794–1795

ASW: 0.38572 troy ounce (11.99 grams)

flowing hair half dollar

All Flowing Hair halves are extremely collectible.

Bust Half Dollars – 1796–1839

ASW: 0.38572 troy ounce (11.99 grams)

capped bust half dollar

Unlike the Draped Bust type, the Capped Bust designs were the first to consistently list the denomination.

Seated Liberty Half Dollars – 1839–1891

ASW: 0.38658 troy ounce (12.024 grams)

1876 seated liberty half dollar

The Seated Liberty motif was one of the longest-running coin design in American history.

Barber Half Dollars – 1892–1915

ASW: 0.3617 troy ounce (11.25 grams)

barber half dollar

Like the other Barber coinage, the U.S. Mint slightly reduced the weight of silver coins in 1892.

Walking Liberty Half Dollars – 1916–1947

ASW: 0.3617 troy ounce (11.25 grams)

1938 d walking liberty half dollar

The Walking Liberty design is often considered one of the most beautiful ever to appear on an American coin.

Franklin Half Dollars – 1948–1963

ASW: 0.3617 troy ounce (11.25 grams)

1948 franklin half dollar

The Franklin half is one of the only U.S. coins to depict a real person who was not a former president.

Kennedy Half Dollars – 1964–1970

ASW: In 1964, 0.3617 troy ounce (11.25 grams). From 1965 to 1970, 0.14789 troy ounce (4.6 grams).

1964 kennedy half

Only the first year of issue in 1964 featured a 90% silver composition for the Kennedy half.

Flowing Hair Dollars – 1794–1795

ASW: 0.77144 troy ounce (23.99 grams)

flowing hair dollar

The first-ever silver dollar in the U.S. remains highly sought-after by collectors.

Bust Dollars – 1795–1804

ASW: 0.77144 troy ounce (23.99 grams)

draped bust dollar

Several reverse varieties of the Draped Bust dollar are known, featuring different eagle designs.

Seated Liberty Dollars – 1840–1873

ASW: 0.77345 troy ounce (24.057 grams)

1872 seated liberty silver dollar

Designer Christian Gobrecht's original flying eagle reverse was rejected by the mint, but was later used on the small cent.

Trade Dollars – 1873–1885

ASW: 0.78763 troy ounce (24.498 grams)

trade dollar

The Trade dollar was specifically minted for export demand, particularly in Asia.

Commemorative Coins (quarters, half dollars, and silver dollars) – 1892–Present

ASW: Varies by denomination, but is consistent with all other coins on the list with the same face value.

1893 Columbian half dollar commemorative

1893 Columbian half dollar commemorative

Morgan Dollars – 1878–1921

ASW: 0.77344 troy ounce (24.06 grams)

1893 s morgan silver dollar

The Morgan dollar is still one of the best-known American coins.

Peace Dollars – 1921–1935

ASW: 0.77344 troy ounce (24.06 grams)

1934 s peace silver dollar

The issuing of the Peace dollar beginning in 1921 was partly to honor the end of World War I.

Eisenhower Dollars – 1971–1978

ASW: 0.3161 troy ounce (9.83 grams)

1972 type 2 eisenhower dollar

Note that only certain Eisenhower dollars have a 40% silver composition.

American Silver Eagles – 1986–Present

ASW: 1 troy ounce (31.1 grams)

1986 american silver eagle

The American Silver Eagle is the only coin on the list that is 99.9% pure silver.

Collecting U.S. Silver Coins

Many silver coins have been struck over the course of United States Mint history, which traces back to 1792. Some of these silver coins are perhaps obvious, including the silver dollar—arguably America’s most iconic silver coin. Other silver coins may be further from your radar, including three-cent silver coins and half dimes. And then there are the silver wartime “nickels” of the 1940s, which contain 35% silver content. (That would seem to belie the common nickname of the otherwise base metal coin’s denomination.)

Not all U.S. silver coins make excellent investments from the precious metals standpoint. It's not because their silver content isn’t valuable, but rather because the numismatic or collectible value of the coin far exceeds its bullion value.

For example, the 1804 Draped Bust dollar contains around $25 of silver content. That particularly silver dollar saw just 15 pieces made. It is a tremendous rarity known as "The King of American coins," and realizes more than $2 million at auction. Is it a great collector coin? Absolutely… But its worth as a rarity is staggeringly high and independent of its silver value. And, from the pure silver stacker’s standpoint, $2 million is a lot of money to pay for barely an ounce of silver, isn’t it?

Non-rare, non-collectible 90% silver coins are often referred to as "junk silver." By contrast, rare coins and uncirculated coins may be worth much more.

90_percent_silver_coin

Assortment of 90% junk silver U.S. coins

A Brief Timeline of American Silver Coins

There are roughly a dozen different types of United States silver coins that are widely bought as bullion pieces. They include a variety of popular designs, some still in production today. The majority of these silver coin types are obsolete.

However, the Roosevelt dime, Washington quarter, Kennedy half dollar, and American Silver Eagle are still in production today. Each have been made in silver for the collecting and investing crowd. 

All dimes, quarters, and half dollars were made for circulation with a 90% silver content up through the year 1964. In 1965, rising silver prices forced the United States Mint to adopt a copper-nickel clad composition for the dime and quarter. The half dollar was changed to a 40% silver clad profile.

Meanwhile, the wartime nickels of 1942-1945 contain a 35% silver composition instead of a copper-nickel alloy. The alloy was temporarily scrapped during the height of World War II to save nickel for the war effort. No nickels were made later with silver. 

In 1971, the United States Mint converted all circulating Kennedy half dollars over to the same copper-nickel clad composition already employed for the dime and quarter. Still, that same year production of the Eisenhower dollar also began. A limited number of Eisenhower dollars were made for collectors in a 40% silver format through the United States Bicentennial year of 1976. The same year the U.S. Mint also issued 40% silver Bicentennial quarters and half dollars. 

Beginning in 1977, the U.S. Mint officially abandoned silver planchets for all its circulating coin types. Included were the Washington quarter, Kennedy half dollar, and Eisenhower dollar. In 1986, the United States American Silver Eagle was released as a .999-fine silver coin expressly struck for bullion investors. A proof version was also made for collectors. Over the years, a great many collectors have also taken up collecting the bullion version of the American Silver Eagle year by year. 

2004 w proof american silver eagle

Proof version of the American Silver Eagle

In 1992, the United States Mint resumed striking a small number of proof Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarters, and Kennedy half dollars in 90% silver. These typically trade for small amounts over their spot value in the secondary market. In 2015 new legislation provided for these silver proofs to be produced in a .999 fineness. This was fully realized in 2019 when these three denominations were first minted in that purer .999-fine format for certain proof sets. 

Investing in Silver Coins

Guided with the knowledge that a bevy of U.S. coins were struck in silver formats, you may have many decisions to make about the coins you wish to buy to further your silver investment goals. Bear in mind that many of the silver coin types that are listed here as good bullion buys also saw the production of some scarce dates whose values are exponentially higher than their spot prices.

Therefore, you can’t buy just any silver Washington quarter or Morgan silver dollar near spot prices. Typically only circulated examples of common dates fall into this category.  

You might ask what the advantages and disadvantages are to buying silver coins. While silver coins generally sell for a higher premium, gram for gram, over silver rounds or silver bars, opting for silver coinage has many unique pros, too. Among the advantages of buying silver coins are the following.

Advantages of Buying Silver Coins

Legal tender status – Silver coins are real money, and they can still be spent as cash today if you wish. Of course, with silver prices ranging above $20 an ounce or way more, this may not seem like a “pro” worth mentioning. But consider the unlikely but possible scenario that silver prices collapse to near zero. (Stranger things have happened.) In this case, you would never completely lose money on your silver investment because of the built-in legal tender face value of the silver coins you own. 

High liquidity – Silver coins have at least two active marketplaces: the precious metals market and the numismatic collectibles market. This multiplies the number of opportunities you have to sell your silver coins and helps maximize the return on your investment. 

Ideal suitability for use in emergencies – Many people stack silver because they fear economic collapse. They want a contingency plan in place in case the value of the United States dollar essentially evaporates. Buying silver coins in various sizes (dimes, quarters, half dollars, etc.) affords you the chance to parcel out your silver holdings in different amounts. It would depend on the size or value of the goods for which you wish to trade. For example, perhaps a 35% silver nickel buys a postage stamp to mail an important letter (in case the internet network is down), a silver dime or two secures a loaf of bread, and so on. 

When it comes to investing in precious metals, buying silver coins is a wonderful way to build a solid portfolio. It can help protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of an unforeseen emergency. If you wish to buy silver coins, you should contact your trusted silver bullion dealer today.

Buy Silver Coins at Gainesville Coins

Browse the product listings below for some of the U.S. silver coins available for sale at Gainesville Coins:

 


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 information about where to buy precious metals from the authors at Gainesville Coins:

How Much Is a Silver Dollar Worth?

What Are the Different Penny Errors? How Much Are They Worth?

How Much Is a Gold Bar Worth Today?

Silver Coins vs. Silver Rounds: What's the Difference?

The Difference Between Troy Ounce vs. Ounce

What's the Melt Value of an Oscar Statue?

Posted In: blog

Latest Offers, Straight To Your Inbox

Don't be the last to know about the latest deals and new product arrivals. Join us today for FREE!