Homepage / Bullion Investment Basics: Junk Silver





Updated on 03/13/2024

Junk Silver Coins



The term "junk silver coin" is used in the bullion market for old circulated silver coins minted in the United States, Canada, and many other Countries.




Why "Junk?"



junk silver bag

It sounds odd to call old silver coins "Junk," but most of these coins are categorized as 'junk' because they have been in circulation for a long time and are in very poor condition.

These silver coins have no numismatic value or collector's premium above their intrinsic value, which comes from the amount of silver contained within them.



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Calculating the Price of
Junk Silver
Coins



Intrinsic Value is a measure of an asset's value.

In regards to a coin, a coin's intrinsic value is determined by what it consists of and how much it weighs.

For instance:

  • the Face value of a dime is 10 cents ($0.10)
  • the Intrinsic Value of a silver dime is determined by its weight, which is 2.25 grams / .0723 oz. 

To figure out the intrinsic value of a coin made of silver, divide the price of silver by 31.10, the number of grams in a troy ounce, then multiply that amount by the number of grams the coin weighs.






Gresham's Law



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

Money that has intrinsic value because it contains a precious metal will be over-valued and will leave the country or disappear from circulation due to hoarding.

While money that has no intrinsic value and is made of base metals or easily manufactured commodities is undervalued and will flood into circulation.

- Sir Thomas Gresham (1519–1579)

In the United States, during the 1960s, in response to coin shortages caused by the rising price of silver, the Coinage Act of 1965 was signed into law; the new law eliminated silver from circulating dimes and quarters.

In addition, the Coinage Act of 1965 reduced silver's content in the half-dollar from 90% to 40%; silver in the half-dollar was eventually eliminated by 1970.

Since 1965, the United States has been experiencing "Gresham's Law" by Americans who understand the intrinsic value of silver and collect or save old circulated silver coins, making them increasingly hard to find.





U.S.
"Junk Silver Coins"


Note: Mintage Figures do not include proof mintages.






FIVE CENTS




1942 - 1945 : War-Time Nickel


Face Value:..............FIVE CENTS

Total Weight:............5 grams

Purity.......................35% / 0.3500 silver

Silver Weight............1.75 grams / .0563 oz.

Metal Composition:...35% silver, 56% copper, 9% manganese

Circulated Mintage:...869,896,100

Designer:.................Felix 0. Schlag

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

Nickel is an industrial metal needed to manufacture ammunition, tank armor, and aircraft parts; to ration nickel, during the war, the United States Government made nickels without any nickel.





ONE DIME




1892 - 1916 : Liberty Head "Barber" Dime


Face Value:..............ONE DIME

Total Weight:............2.50 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............2.25 grams / .0723 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...504,317,075

Designer:.................Charles E. Barber









1916 - 1945 : Winged Liberty Head
(Mercury) Dime


Face Value:..............ONE DIME

Total Weight:............2.50 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............2.25 grams / .0723 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...2,677,153,880

Designer:.................Adolph A. Weinman





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1946 - 1964 : Roosevelt Dime


Face Value:..............ONE DIME

Total Weight:............2.50 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............2.25 grams / .0723 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...6,595,617,673

Designer:.................John R. Sinnock





QUARTER DOLLAR




1892 - 1916 : Liberty Head "Barber" Quarter


Face Value:..............QUARTER DOLLAR

Total Weight:............6.25 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............5.63 grams / .1808 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...264,670,880

Designer:.................Charles E. Barber









1916 - 1930 : Standing Liberty Quarter


Face Value:..............QUARTER DOLLAR

Total Weight:............6.25 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............5.63 grams / .1808 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...226,769,600

Designer:.................Hermon A. MacNeil





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1932 - 1964 : Washington Quarter


Face Value:..............QUARTER DOLLAR

Total Weight:............6.25 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............5.63 grams / .1808 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...3,780,077,001

Designer:.................John Flanagan





HALF DOLLAR




1892 - 1915 : Liberty Head "Barber"
Half Dollar


Face Value:..............HALF DOLLAR

Total Weight:............12.50 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............11.25 grams / .36169 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...135,916,889

Designer:.................Charles E. Barber









1916 - 1947 : Walking Liberty Half Dollar


Face Value:..............HALF DOLLAR

Total Weight:............12.50 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............11.25 grams / .36169 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...485,320,340

Designer:.................Adolph A. Weinman









1948 - 1963 : Franklin Half Dollar


Face Value:..............HALF DOLLAR

Total Weight:............12.50 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............11.25 grams / .36169 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...465,814,455

Designer:.................John R. Sinnock





Learn more from this guide's

Junk Silver Buying Guide




1964 : Kennedy Half Dollar


Face Value:..............HALF DOLLAR

Total Weight:............12.50 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............11.25 grams / .36169 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...429,509,450

Designer:.................Gilroy Roberts (obverse); Frank Gasparro (reverse)









1965 - 1970 : Kennedy Half Dollar


Face Value:..............HALF DOLLAR

Total Weight:............11.50 grams

Purity.......................40% / 0.400 silver

Silver Weight............4.60 grams / .14789 oz.

Metal Composition:...40% silver, 60% copper

Circulated Mintage:...848,895,006

Designer:.................Gilroy Roberts (obverse); Frank Gasparro (reverse)





ONE DOLLAR




1878 - 1921 : Morgan Dollar


Face Value:..............ONE DOLLAR

Total Weight:............26.73 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............24.057 grams / .77343 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...656,989,387

Designer:.................George T. Morgan









1921 - 1935 : Peace Dollar


Face Value:..............ONE DOLLAR

Total Weight:............26.73 grams

Purity.......................90% / 0.900 silver

Silver Weight............24.057 grams / .77343 oz.

Metal Composition:...90% silver, 10% copper

Circulated Mintage:...191,028,756

Designer:.................Anthony DeFrancisci






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Junk Silver Buying Guide



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