Junk silver coins – broadly defined as silver coins whose value is based strictly on silver content – is a popular, and inexpensive way to buy silver. Junk silver coins basically consist of former legal tender coins that are no longer being produced.
In the U.S., a large bulk of junk silver consists of half-dollars, quarters, dimes and nickels minted prior to 1965, most of which contain 90% silver. Many people today buy junk silver coins like these not only for investment, but for ‘survival’ purposes as well.
The value of these coins closely correlates with the base silver price, which makes it relatively easy to calculate their value (…provided you know the silver content in each coin you have).
Therefore, the first important thing to know is the silver content in your coin(s).
Silver Content of Common Junk Silver Coins (…expressed in troy ounces)
- 90% silver dimes (1873-1964) – 0.07234 ounces
- 90% silver quarters (1892-1964) – 0.18084 ounces
- 90% silver half-dollars (1892-1964) – 0.36169 ounces
- Morgan & Peace Silver dollars (1878-1935) – 0.77343 ounces
With this information in hand, it’s easy to calculate the dollar value of your collection. For one coin, let’s say you have a Washington 90% junk silver quarter from 1963.
The current silver price is $32…
Multiply $32 (…or current price) by 0.18084 and you get $5.79. If you have 10 quarters, the cash value would be $57.90.
Although it’s easy to do it yourself, there are calculators online to help you determine the cash value of what you have. Of course, when you sell them to a coin shop or online bullion dealer, you won’t realize that amount.
Much like purchasing silver coins, dealers will charge a certain percentage if and when you sell, although this amount shouldn’t be too much. But knowing the base cash value before selling will help you know how much the shop or dealer is charging.
If you own junk silver coins for survival purposes, this point may be moot. If the worst indeed comes to fruition and there’s a complete collapse in the dollar, junk silver coins will revert back to their original purpose and serve as legal tender.
Considering the small individual units, these coins will be useful barter tools for everyday items. If silver prices are still based in dollars, using these conversions will come in handy for determining how many coins to pay for an item.