Homepage / Buying Guide: Junk Silver Guide

Updated on 03/22/2024

Junk Silver Coins
Buying Guide

with a list of Reputable
Junk Silver Coins

junk silver coins

"Junk Silver" is a term used in the bullion market for old 90%, 40%, and 35% circulated silver U.S. coins produced before 1970 that have no numismatic or collector's value.

The last thing you or I would do is call silver coinage "Junk," but it's a trade name given to these coins by dealers, and it has stuck.

On this page, you'll learn the history of junk silver, why individuals purchase 'junk silver,' and how it is sold to the public by bullion dealers.

Near the bottom of the page is a list of reputable junk silver bullion dealers who offer these coins.

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U.S. Junk Silver Coins

closest in price to their intrinsic value.

A "Junk Silver Coin" is a U.S. coin circulated before 1970, valued based on the amount of silver contained within it.

Junk Silver Dealers - WarTime Nickel - Small

There are numerous junk silver coin pictures, similar to the War-Time Nickel scattered throughout this web page to assist you in identifying pre-1970 silver coins.

When you 'click' on the coin's picture, a link will take you to this guide's Junk Silver Coins page, which offers you more information about each coin.

The Origins of
U.S. Junk Silver Coins

Junk Silver Coins are old pre-1970 circulated coins that Americans used in everyday life.

barber dime

In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Coinage Act of 1965; the act eliminated silver from circulated quarters and dimes and reduced the amount of silver in half dollars to 40%.

The Coinage Act of 1965 was signed in response to coin shortages caused by the rising price of silver in terms of a devaluing U.S. dollar.

The lack of silver coins in 1965 was blamed on "Gresham's Law," which is an economic observation that “bad money drives out good money."

[Gresham's Law]: Bad money drives out good money. - Thomas Gresham

"Gresham's Law" - named after Sir Thomas Gresham (1519–1579).

mercury dime

The principles of Gresham's Law are that "good money" with intrinsic value made of precious metals will disappear from circulation due to hoarding.

While the "bad money" will be widely available, much like today's fiat paper money is widely available compared to precious metals coins and bullion.

Gresham's Law has been in full effect in the United States by Americans hoarding old circulated silver coins.

roosevelt dime

Since silver circulated coins were last minted, they have become increasingly harder to find.

In the 70s and 1980s, if you inspected your loose change, you could still find these coins.

During the 90s and early 2000s, it became harder to find these coins, but if you searched for them in a large jar of coins, you could find them.

Now, it's almost impossible to find these old silver coins in circulation; the only way you can find them outside of purchasing them from a bullion dealer is through a bank.

Some people regularly go to their local bank and buy rolls of nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars to search for these old silver junk coins.

Gresham's Law is also in effect in other countries that used to mint circulated silver coins, then replaced the silver in the coins with less valuable metals.

Face Value - a True Story

Over 15 years ago, an individual was at a convenience store in Northern Virginia and went to the cashier to pay for the items he wanted to purchase.

After he handed the cashier a ten-dollar bill to pay for his items, the individual noticed that when the cashier was making change, he grabbed a Morgan Silver dollar from the quarter tray of the cash register.

The individual immediately knew what the coin was and started to grin as the cashier was about to put it into the individual's hand.

The individual could not hold his grin back. He could not wait to receive the Morgan Silver Dollar because he knew its 'intrinsic value,' and it wasn't 25 cents.

Unfortunately for the individual, the cashier saw the grin as he was about to hand over the change and took a second look at the Morgan Silver Dollar.

The cashier looked at the silver dollar and said, "My mistake, this is a dollar coin," which is the 'Face Value' of the Morgan silver dollar.

As the cashier started to put the Morgan silver dollar back in the drawer to get a quarter, the individual said, “I’ll give you a dollar for it.”

The cashier grimaced and shrugged, then took the fiat dollar bill and handed the silver coin to the individual.

The individual walked out of the store smiling because he knew the intrinsic value of the silver coin was (and still is) worth more than a dollar ($1.00).

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The Versatility of Junk Silver

barber quarter

Investing in Junk Silver Coins is one of the few ways to buy physical silver closest to its spot price.

If you are among those who think that one day, the U.S. Dollar will stop being the world's reserve currency, then you want some Junk Silver Coins.

Coins made of silver and other precious metals have intrinsic value in any financial system; they've been a form of money for over 5,000 years and will continue to be in the future.

The thought of the currency markets faltering to the point of collapse may be out of the mainstream, but at the rate the U.S. Government spends taxpayer money, the concept of it is becoming more true every day.

In the case of such an occurrence, paying for items with precious metals should not be taken for granted.

liberty quarter

In such a case, paying for gas at a gas station or buying toilet paper at Walmart would be easier with silver coins than gold coins.

Gold and Silver coins are similar in size, but their value in weight is extremely different.

Gold's price ratio with silver is regularly around 70 to 80 times higher than silver, so having some junk silver dimes and quarters in your pocket to pay for the small things makes a lot of sense in this economic scenario.

What is a 'Cull' Coin?

washington quarter

"Cull" is a common term used by those who buy and sell junk silver coins.

The definition of a "Cull" coin is a heavily circulated, worn down, or damaged coin that has no numismatic or collector's value.

Cull coins are coins that most collectors wouldn't touch unless the coin has a high-value date, regardless of its condition, or because it completes a collection or coin set.

cull coinsJunk Silver - Cull Coins

Characteristics of "Cull Coins"

  • pitting
  • scratches & dings
  • warn surfaces
  • corrosion
  • bends
  • drilled hole(s) in coin
  • irregular shaped coin

A common practice among collectors is that they often add a cull coin to their collection until they can replace it with a better-looking coin.

Grades of junk silver from good to bad:

  • AU - About Uncirculated = 95% fine w/ some luster
  • XF - Extra Fine = 90% fine
  • VF - Very Fine = 75% fine
  • F - Fine = 50% fine
  • VG - Very Good = 25% fine
  • G - Good = 10% fine
  • Cull
  • Worse than Cull
barber halfdollar

Junk Silver coin dealers will almost always inform you when the junk silver is better than the 'cull' condition because they can charge a higher premium for the coins.

Junk silver coins labeled cull, worse than cull, or not labeled at all should be priced lower.

However, it is not always common practice for bullion dealers to label the grade of their junk silver coins; some dealers may post the condition of their coins as varied

Pricing Junk Silver Coins

Bullion coins and collector coins have a premium, which is the markup of a coin above its intrinsic value.

The worse the condition of the coins, the closer the coin's price will be to silver's spot price.

Silver per Troy Oz. (ozt.)

Junk Silver
Priced in Weight, Sold by Face Value

walking liberty halfdollar

When junk silver coins were minted and circulating, a thousand dollar ($1,000) 'face value' bag of 90% dimes and quarters contained 723 troy ounces of silver. 

But, due to the wear and tear on the coins caused by circulation and time, a thousand dollar 'face value' bag of silver quarters, dimes, or nickels will usually weigh less.

Today, these bags of silver coins regularly weigh around 715 troy ounces because most are cull coins.

franklin half dollar

On the other hand, silver half dollars and especially silver dollars have retained more of their original silver content and weight over the years.

Due to these reasons, a purchaser may spend a little more for junk silver of higher denomination than lower-denominated coins because of the amount of silver retained in the coins over the years.

"Face Value"

kennedy half dollar - 90%

The term "Face Value" is the coin's legal tender value inscribed on it.

A thousand-dollar face value bag is the most commonly recognized method that bullion dealers use to sell junk silver coin lots.

However, it can get confusing when figuring out how many coins are in a thousand-dollar ($1,000) 'face value' bag.

The list below will help show you how many coins are in a thousand-dollar bag of junk silver coins.

Examples of the "Face Value" of coins:

  • $0.05 x 1 nickel = $0.05 Face Value
  • $0.05 x 20,000 nickels = $1,000.00 Face Value
  • $0.10 x 1 dime = $0.10 Face Value
  • $0.10 x 10,000 dimes = $1,000.00 Face Value
  • $0.25 x 1 quarter = $0.25 Face Value
  • $0.25 x 4000 quarters = $1,000.00 Face Value
  • $0.50 x 1 half dollar = $0.50 Face Value
  • $0.50 x 500 half dollars = $250.00 Face Value
kennedy half dollar - 40%

To help you understand the pricing of junk silver coins, let's say a dealer is selling a thousand dollar ($1,000) 'face value' bag Of 90% junk silver that weighs approximately 715 troy ounces of pure silver. 

If the spot price of silver was $25.00 a troy ounce, a $1000 face-value bag of junk silver coins would cost at least $17,875.00. ($25 x 715 troy ounces).

Junk Silver Percentages (%)

Dealers of Junk silver coins separate the coins by the content of silver contained within them.

morgan dollar

These coin bags are sold in lots of all 90% silver, all 40% silver, or all 35% silver coins; ex: all nickel, all dimes, all quarters, all half dollars, or all dollar bags.

Some dealers may blend the 'face value' of junk silver coins, for instance, mixing quarters, dimes, and half dollars that consist of only 90% silver.

Lots of junk silver coins should not be mixed with coins that contain different percentages of silver.

Be aware of any dealers who are offering junk silver bags were nickels are sold in the same bag as dimes and quarters.

peace dollar

Silver War-Time nickels were produced between 1942-1945 and these nickels contain only 35% silver and should not be sold with coins made of 90% or 40% silver.

Furthermore, bullion dealers don't only offer $1000 'face value' bags, although some do, many others offer quantities of junk silver in a variety of coin lots.

 Percentages of old
U.S. circulated silver coins

 Years              Description                          Percentage

  • 1942-1945 (War-Time) nickel..............
  • 1892-1916 Barber dime......................
  • 1916-1945 Mercury dime....................
  • 1946-1964 Roosevelt dime..................
  • 1892-1916 Barber quarter...................
  • 1916-1930 Standing Liberty quarter......
  • 1932-1964 Washington quarter............
  • 1892-1915 Barber half dollar................
  • 1916-1947 Walking Liberty half dollar....
  • 1948-1963 Franklin half dollar..............
  • 1964 ....... Kennedy half dollar............
  • 1965-1970 Kennedy half dollar.............
  • 1878-1921 Morgan dollar....................
  • 1921-1935 Peace dollar......................
  • 35%
  • 90%
  • 90%
  • 90%
  • 90%
  • 90%
  • 90%
  • 90%
  • 90%
  • 90%
  • 90%
  • 40%
  • 90%
  • 90%

List of Reputable
Junk Silver Coins
Bullion Dealers

BGASC - BuyGoldandSilverCoins

BGASC is one of the largest coin and bullion dealers in the United States.

BGASC offers 90% silver coins in small quantities as well as in bulk coin bags, including circulated 90% silver dimes, quarters, half dollars, Morgan Dollars, Peace Dollars, and more.

'Click the Screenshot' to see all their junk silver options.

Every package they ship is sent fully insured for its time in transit.

Customers across the country have come to recognize BGASC as one of the fastest and most trusted online precious metals suppliers in the U.S.

BuyGoldandSilverCoins - 4.8 star Customer Reviews

Free Shipping on Orders $199 and up

Money Metals Exchange

Stefan Gleason is president of the Money Metals Exchange, a national precious metals investment company and news service with over 500,000 readers and 75,000 customers.


Money Metals Exchange offers multiple-sized bags of junk silver 90% quarter, dimes & half dollars, and as an added service, they provide customers old pre-1982 - 95% copper pennies, by the pound.


Gleason founded the company in 2010 in direct response to the abusive methods of national advertisers of collectible, and numismatic coins.

Money Metals Exchange believes the average investor should never purchase precious metals that are not priced at or near their actual melt value.

Savvy, self-reliant investors are embracing Money Metals Exchange as their trustworthy resource for gold and silver bullion.

Money Metals Exchange - Better Business Bureau Review

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Royalty Precious Metals

Royalty Precious Metals

Royalty Precious Metals offers 90% pre-1965 Constitutional Silver.


** Veteran & Patriot Owned**

Royalty Precious Metals want the Opportunity to Earn your Business and become a Customer for Life!

From the Beginning they’ve recognized that many people buy precious metals not only for “profit potential” but for “insurance.”

That's why they provide a their wide selection of Bullion Bars and Coins. 

Royalty Precious Metals - Better Business Bureau Review

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SD Bullion

SD Bullion offers 90% & 40% junk silver coins, click the link to see if they have the junk silver you are looking for.


SD Bullion is a Precious Metals Dealer located in Michigan and is part of the Silver Doctor's network.

In 2011, two doctors started a highly popular Gold & Silver News website with one dream: To educate the masses on the value of hard assets and preparation.

The rapid success of that website gave way to the launch of SD Bullion.com in March of 2012. 

Since then, SD Bullion has executed more than $2 Billion in sales and hit Inc. Magazines list of 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the United States twice.

SD Bullion - 4.8 star Customer Reviews

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Affiliate Logos - SilverGoldBull

SilverGoldBull is a Canadian Bullion Dealer that offers bullion investors U.S. Junk Silver Coins and sometimes the unique opportunity to purchase Canadian Junk Silver.

(When available), Canadian Junk Silver comes in 80% and 50% silver coins.

'Click' any of the links in this section to see what junk silver coins SilverGoldBull has available today.


SilverGoldBull.com has tens of thousands of satisfied customers who have taken their financial future into their own hands by investing in gold and silver. 

If you would like to learn more about what their customers are saying about their service, please view their customer reviews (below).

SilverGoldBull - 5.0 star Customer Reviews

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Affiliate Logo - Walmart

Through Top Dealers in the bullion industry like APMEX and Money Metals Exchange, Walmart offers a variety of Junk Silver Coin lots.


Save Money, Live Better

Sam Walton famously remarked upon receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in 1992 that, “If we work together, we’ll lower the cost of living for everyone…we’ll give the world an opportunity to see what it’s like to save and have a better life.”

Low-price leadership is primarily achieved through Walmart's extensive network of suppliers, which allows them to purchase merchandise in bulk at lower prices than competitors.

Shipping prices varies by item

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