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Junk Silver Coins
Buying Guide

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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 collectors value.

The last thing you or I would do is call this silver coinage "Junk" but it's a trade name given to the 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, you'll find a list of reputable junk silver coins bullion dealers.

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U.S. Junk Silver Coins

To help you better identify what pre-1970 silver coins fall into the 'Junk Silver' category, as you scroll down and read the page, you will see photos on the left and the right of U.S. Junk Silver coins.

wartime nickel

If you click on any of the photos of a junk silver coin, it will take you to this guide's Junk Silver page, which offers you more information about each coin, including mintage figures and a larger photo.

For example, the War-Time Nickel is the only nickel that falls under the category of "junk silver."

War-Time Nickles were minted in 35% silver, 56% copper, 9% manganese. from 1942 to 1945, during WWII, to conserve nickel for the war effort.

Nickel is an industrial metal, and it was needed to manufacture ammunition, tank armor and aircraft parts, so to ration nickel, the U.S. Government took out all the nickel, in nickels.

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 regards to a devalued U.S. dollar, the lack of silver coins in 1965 was blamed on "Gresham's Law," which is an economic observation that “bad money (U.S. Dollar) drives out good (silver coinage)."

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

mercury dime

Gresham's Law - is a monetary principle stating that "bad money drives out good." 

Money or Coins, in this case, that have an intrinsic value due to the precious metals contained within them will be hoarded and they'll disappear from circulation due to hoarding.

"Bad Money Drives Out Good" means the good money will be hoarded, 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.

After 1965, Gresham's Law was in full effect by Americans hoarding these old circulated silver coins.

Since 1970, after the last 40% Kennedy half dollars was minted, these silver coins became increasingly harder to find.

roosevelt dime

In the 70's and 80's, if you inspected your loose change you could easily find these coins. 

In the 90's and early 2000's, it became harder to find these coins, but if you searched for them in the in a jar of coins or a piggy bank you could still find them.

Now, it's almost impossible to find them in circulation; you may get lucky, now and then, by getting one from a cashier in coin change.

The only other way you can find them outside of purchasing them from a bullion dealer is though a bank.

If you went to a local bank and exchanged $20, $50 or $100 dollars in paper money for the same amount in nickels, dimes, quarter, half dollars, or dollar coins, you may still find them.

Face Value - a True Story

by Steven Warrenfeltz

morgan silver dollarThe Silver Coin in the Story
- Obverse Side

Over 15-years ago, I was at a convenience store in Northern Virginia to pay for items I wanted to purchase.  

After I had handed the cashier a ten-dollar bill to pay for my items, when he was giving me change, I noticed that he grabbed a Morgan Silver dollar that was in the quarter tray of the cash register.

I immediately knew what the coin was and as he was about to put it in my hand, and I started to grin.

I could not hold the grin back because I have no poker face, and I knew the 'true' value of the coin he was about to give me, and it wasn't 25 cents.

morgan silver dollarThe Silver Coin in the Story
- Reverse Side

He saw my grin as he was handing me the change, and he took a second look at the Morgan Silver Dollar. 

He looked at it and said "my mistake this is a dollar coin" (which is the 'Face Value' of Morgan silver dollar).

As he started to put the Morgan Silver Dollar back in the drawer and hand me a quarter, I told him “I’ll give you a dollar for it.”

He took my dollar and handed me the silver coin.

I got paid that day for going to that convenience store because the intrinsic value of the silver coin was, and still is worth more than the dollar ($1) I paid for it.

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The Versatility of Junk Silver

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

barber quarter

If you are among those who think that one day the financial system will collapse then Junk Silver Coins are what you want.

Coins made of silver and other precious metals have an 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 is not out of the mainstream of thinking, at the rate governments around the world are spending money, the concept is becoming truer, every day

In the case of such an occurrence, paying for items with small amounts of precious metals may be one of the easiest transactions one can make.

liberty quarter

For instance, if this did happen, paying for a few items at the grocery store would be hard with an ounce of gold.

Whereas, if you had a few silver dimes with the intrinsic value of a dollar or more each, the transaction would be an easier one to make.

The Weight of Junk Silver

washington quarter

During the early 1960's, when junk silver coins were minted, a $1000 'face value' bag of dimes and quarters contained 723 troy ounces of silver.

But, due to the wear on the coin, caused by circulation and time, a $1000 'face value' bag of quarters and dimes can now weigh 715 troy ounces of silver.

Higher denominated and less circulated junk silver coins retain little more of their original silver content, a $1000 'face value' bag of half dollars or dollars will weigh around 720 ounces.

Due to these reasons, a purchaser should expect to pay a little more for junk silver half dollars and dollars because they have retained more of their silver over the years.

barber halfdollar

To help you understand the principle of pricing Junk Silver, let's say a dealer is selling a $1,000 face value bag Of 90% junk silver that weighed 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 to purchase.

715 ozt. x $25.00 = $17,875.00

Junk Silver Coins
Face Value vs. Weight

walking liberty halfdollar

The $1000 face value bag is a commonly recognized way that bullion dealers sell junk silver.

Junk Silver Coin Bags with a $1000 'face value' weighs about 55lbs and contains around 715 troy ounces of pure silver.

The term "Face Value" is used only in the terms of the Total Face Value of the Coins' themselves. 

Examples of the "Face Value" of coins:

  • $0.05 x 100 nickels = $5.00 Face Value
  • $0.10 x 100 dimes = $10.00 Face Value
  • $0.25 x 100 quarters = $25.00 Face Value
  • $0.50 x 100 half dollars = $50.00 Face Value 
  • $0.50 x 500 half dollars = $250.00 Face Value
  • $0.10 x 1000 dimes = $100 Face Value
  • $0.25 x 4000 quarters = $1000.00 Face Value

franklin half dollar

The 'face values' above are not the price you'll be paying when purchasing Junk Silver Coins.

If you want to purchase Junk Silver Coins, try not to let the "Face Value" confuse you with the real intrinsic value of the silver contained within the bullion coins.

The following list is the same as above; it's been converted for you so you can see how junk silver coins 'face value' bags are sold by weight.

Examples of the "Weight" for bags of "Face Value" of coins:

  • $0.05 x 100 nickels = 5.63 troy ounces 
  • $0.10 x 100 dimes = 7.23 troy ounces
  • $0.25 x 100 quarters = 18.08 troy ounces
  • $0.50 x 100 half dollars = 36.169 troy ounces
  • $0.50 x 500 half dollars = 180.845 troy ounces
  • $0.10 x 1000 dimes = 72.3 troy ounces
  • $0.25 x 4000 quarters = 723.2 troy ounces

Pricing Junk Silver Coins

The next step to price the examples of junk silver coin bags above is to multiply the silver troy ounces contained within the coins with the current spot price of silver.

The chart to the right shows you the current spot price for silver.

The price is for one troy ounce of silver.

Silver per Troy Oz. (ozt.)

Dealer Practices

In the United States, Junk Silver coins are separated by the content of silver contained within the coin. 

Dealers sell these coins in bags or lots of all 90% silver, all 40% silver or all 35% silver coins.

kennedy half dollar - 90%

Junk silver coins are offered in bags of separated coins; ex: all dimes, all quarters, all half dollars or all dollar bags.

Although some dealers will mix the face value of coins, for instance, mixing quarters, dimes, and half dollars that consist of 90% silver, only.

They 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.

kennedy half dollar - 40%

As mentioned above, junk 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.

What is a 'Cull' Coin?

Another term to know that bullion dealers use when they're selling junk silver coins is the term 'Cull' coins.

morgan dollar

The definition of 'Cull Coins' are coins that have no numismatic or collectors value," they are worn down and have been heavily circulated.

Cull coins are coins that most collectors wouldn't touch unless the coin is highly valuable regardless of its condition, or 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 coins

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

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

Below is a list of the grades associated with Junk Silver coins.

peace dollar

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

Junk silver coins labeled "Cull, Worse than Cull" or not labeled at all should have a lower prices that are close to the spot price of silver.

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List of Reputable
Junk Silver Coins
Bullion Dealers

All the Dealers affiliated with this guide have been vetted to ensure their business is reputable. 

However, we do not expect you to blindly trust our judgement, for that reason, below you'll find Customer Reviews, for each Dealer, to help you determine whether or not you wish to do business with them.

Each one of the listed Dealers is an Affiliated Dealer of this Guide, we receive a commission for every purchase that we refer to them.

Note: the Cookies on your computer must be Enabled for this Guide to receive a commission from our affiliates.

Cookies only indicate, to the merchant, that you linked to the merchant's website from this guide. No Personal Information is Obtained in this process.

Note: As a suggestion to anyone interested in buying bullion from any one of the sites listed below, Please Read each company's ordering instructions and shipping rules carefully.


Junk Silver Coins link

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 the different options they offer.


BGASC is one of the largest coin and bullion dealers in the United States.
Buy Gold And Silver Coins.com's goal is to be the kind of dealer they've always wanted to trade with: to be in stock, ship fast, be fair & reasonable, and operate honestly and efficiently.

They are an Official PCGS Dealer, member of the Certified Coin Exchange (CCE), an NGC Collector's Society Member, and a Bulk Purchaser of United States Mint non-bullion coins.

Every single package they ship is sent fully insured for its time in transit. Customers all across the country have quickly come to recognize BGASC as one of the fastest, and most trusted online precious metals suppliers in the U.S.

BGASC  - Customer Review Links

BGASC - Shopper Approved - Customer Reviews page

BGASC - Better Business Bureau Review page

Money Metals Exchange

Junk Silver Coins link

Money Metals Exchange offers 90% and 40% junk silver coins, plus they also offer their customers the opportunity to purchase old 95% copper pennies.


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

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.

Now you can safeguard your assets from financial turmoil and the devaluing dollar – without paying costly middleman mark-ups or fending off high pressure, bait-and-switch sales tactics.

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

Money Metals Exchange - Customer Review Links

Money Metals Exchange - Facebook Customer Reviews

Money Metals Exchange - BBBureau Review page

SD Bullion.com

(Junk Silver page)

SD Bullion offers 90% junk silver in silver dollars and in smaller denominated 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 the website SilverDoctors.com with one dream: To educate the masses on the value of hard assets and preparation.

Since 2012, SD Bullion has shipped more than 300,000 orders and hit Inc. Magazines list of 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the United States twice.

They did all this while staying true to their original mission of offering the absolute lowest prices on gold bullion and silver bullion in the industry, guaranteed.

SD Bullion - Customer Review Links

SD Bullion - Shopper Approved - Customer Review page

SD Bullion - Better Business Bureau Review page


90% 80% and 50% Junk Silver Coins link

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

Canadian Junk Silver is available in 80% and 50% silver coins, click any of the links in this section to see SilverGoldBull's Junk Silver.


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. 

SilverGold Bull's in-house customer service representatives will work to assure your satisfaction in a timely, friendly, and professional manner. Never hesitate to get in touch - building relationships with our clients is our number one priority.

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

Silver Gold Bull - Customer Review Links

SilverGoldBull - Customer Review page

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