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Guidelines for buying junk silver coins

What are junk silver coins?

Junk silver coins are coins that derive their value primarily from there silver content.  The term junk silver usually refers to US coinage minted prior to 1964, in which the dime, quarter and half dollar were composed of 90% silver, 10% copper.  Many other countries however have also produced silver coinage at one time or another, most notably Canada, England and Mexico, which means that the entire universe of junk silver coins comprises more than just Pre-1964 United States coinage.

Junk Silver coin buying guidelines

For simplicity’s sake these guidelines are directed at purchases of US junk silver coins, although the same basic principles apply to most purchases of foreign silver coins.  (Non-US junk silver coins can be tricky because the amount of silver each of them contains varies considerably.  If your interested in acquiring non-US coins be sure to do your research. Don’t assume foriegn (non-US) coins are 90% silver coins.)

What to look for when investing in junk silver coins.

Here are your guidelines.

Guideline #1 – Keep it simple.  To keep it simple, especially when starting out, stick to familiar United States coins.  For junk silver coin investing we only interested in the silver dime, silver quarter, silver half dollar along with the Morgan Silver dollar and Peace Silver dollar.  These are the only coins you need to deal with. 

Own junk silver coins here!

Guideline #2 – Check the date.  With one minor exception, all junk silver coins were minted prior to 1965, so the first simple step is to check the date on the coin.  The mint date must be 1964 or earlier.

Guideline #3 – Know the value of the coin.  You obviously don’t want to pay too much for your silver coins so before you can make an offer you need to know the coins value.  The easiest way, if you have access to the Internet, is to check the coins current value at  And if you don’t have access to the Internet you can simply calculate a coins value with this simple formula, which applies to all United States junk silver coins – $1.40 in face value is equal to 1 troy ounce of silver.  Knowing this and the current spot price for silver will allow you to easily figure out the actual value of your junk silver.  Here are some examples below:

Example 1:

What is a junk Silver Dime worth?                            Today’s Silver price equals $29.12

1 Pre-1964 silver dime equals 1/14 ounce of silver which, at today’s price means it is worth $2.08 in terms of silver (the copper in the coin, which makes up 10% of the total composition is also worth something, but for all practical purposes you can disregard it.)

One roll of silver dimes (50 coins) has a value equal to $104.00

Example 2:

How much is a Morgan Silver Dollar worth?                          Today’s Silver price equals $29.12

Morgan silver dollars, like the more typical junk silver coins are also composed of 90% silver/10% copper which again, makes the calculation easy.  Morgan silver dollars contain 5/7 an ounce of silver or .7142 when displayed in a decimal format so, when we multiply by the silver price equals $29.12*.7142=$20.08

Guideline #4 – Chose a coin with less wear and tear – Silver coins lose their silver over time due to normal wear and tear, causing them to lose value over time.  The better condition a coin is in the more silver it contains and the more it is worth.  If you’re buying a coin online try to look at a picture of the coin.

Guideline #5 – Know the fees and commissions. – Whether you purchase your coins from a dealer or from a private party you can expect to pay a commission and/or fees.  You shouldn’t pay a commission higher than 5%-6% over the value of the coin, although you can expect this to vary with the size of your purchase.  With silver coins as with everything, the commission percentage will be lower on large purchases and higher on smaller purchases.

Guideline #6 – All investments come with risks – Know your reasons for investing in junk silver coins and go into this investment with your eyes open.  Realize that with any investment, and especially with silver, the price can be volatile.  There are a lot of great reasons to invest in and own silver, particularly junk silver coins, but there is always the possibility that you will lose a portion of your investment.

Guideline #7 – Know who you’re dealing with. – While there are great opportunities to be found when dealing with private parties, it’s always best to know the reputation of the people you do business with.  Dealing with professionals or through a reputable organization, like eBay, is cheap insurance against getting ripped off.

There you have it, the basic guidelines for investing in junk silver coins.  As far as investments go junk silver coins are simple, easy to buy and sell and easy to understand.  For these reasons they make a great foundation to your financial portfolio.  Now, especially if you haven’t taken the plunge and picked up a few silver coins, is the best time to start…Own junk silver coins now!