Complete Guide to Junk Silver Coins

Junk silver, or junk coins, refers to circulated coins that were minted in the past (pre-1964) and have relatively little numismatic value or historical significance. Instead, they are valued for their silver content. These coins are typically made of 90% silver or higher, with the remaining percentage usually consisting of copper. Junk silver that contains less than 90% silver also exists, such as Kennedy Half Dollars struck between 1965-1970, which are 40% silver.  Junk silver is also generally characterized as being common date examples in conditions below what is considered collectible for that type of coin. 

What is junk silver? How do you collect it? Is it worth buying? 

Keep reading because this complete guide will answer these questions and cover everything you need to know about junk silver!

Junk silver, or junk coins, refers to circulated coins that were minted in the past (pre-1964) and have relatively little numismatic value or historical significance. Instead, they are valued for their silver content. These coins are typically made of 90% silver or higher, with the remaining percentage usually consisting of copper. Junk silver that contains less than 90% silver also exists, such as Kennedy Half Dollars struck between 1965-1970, which are 40% silver.  Junk silver is also generally characterized as being common date examples in conditions below what is considered collectible for that type of coin.

Junk silver coins were once circulated before the discontinuation of silver coinage in 1965, and their silver content made them more valuable than their face value. As a result, this led people to hoard and melt them down for their silver content, though such coinage can still be found in circulation today.

The main difference between junk silver and numismatic coins is their value. Junk silver coins are silver coins that have lost their numismatic value and are valued primarily for their silver content and weight. Numismatic coins derive their value from rarity, historical significance, and condition. They can be silver or other metals, but their value is not primarily based on their metal content.

Junk silver is popular among investors for a few reasons:

  1. Affordability: Junk silver coins are typically less expensive than newly minted silver coins or bars, which makes them an affordable option for investors who want to buy silver bullion
  2. Liquidity: Junk silver coins are widely recognized and accepted as a form of silver bullion, which makes them easier to buy and sell.
  3. Portability: Junk coins are relatively small and lightweight, which makes them easy to store and transport.
  4. Diversification: Investing in junk silver allows investors to diversify their precious metals holdings.

Overall, junk silver can be a practical and affordable way for investors to add physical silver to their portfolios. Its liquidity and portability make it a choice among those who value the flexibility and versatility of silver bullion investments.

However, adding junk silver to your investment portfolio comes with risks and will not guarantee you will make money. So it is best to consult a financial advisor before investing in junk silver.

Various types of coins are considered “junk silver.” Some examples of 90% and 40% silver coins that are often considered junk silver,  depending upon their date and condition, include:

  • Roosevelt dimes minted between 1946 and 1964: 90% silver, 10% copper
  • Washington quarters minted between 1932 and 1964: 90% silver, 10% copper
  • Franklin half dollars minted between 1948 and 1963: 90% silver, 10% copper
  • Kennedy half dollars minted in 1964: 90% silver, 10% copper
  • Kennedy half dollars minted between 1965 and 1970: 40% silver, 60% copper
  • Mercury dimes minted between 1916 and 1945: 90% silver, 10% copper
  • Standing Liberty quarters minted between 1916 and 1930: 90% silver, 10% copper
  • Barber half dollars minted between 1892 and 1915: 90% silver, 10% copper
  • Walking Liberty half dollars minted between 1916 and 1947: 90% silver, 10% copper

Certain coins are traded as junk silver due to their poor condition or high mintage, even though they hold a numismatic value.

So how or where do you buy junk silver? Collectors can purchase junk coins from a variety of sources, such as:

  1. Coin Dealers: Coin dealers specialize in buying and selling coins; many carry junk silver coins in their inventory. Coin dealers can be found online or in person at local coin shops.
  2. Online Retailers: There are many online retailers, such as ModernCoinMart, that specialize in selling precious metals, including junk silver coins.
  3. Auctions: Junk coins can also be found at auctions, both online and in person. Auction houses such as Heritage Auctions and Stack’s Bowers Galleries often feature rare coins and precious metals, including junk silver.
  4. Private Sales: Collectors can also purchase junk silver coins through private sales, such as buying from other collectors or through online marketplaces like eBay or Craigslist. However, be cautious when buying from private sellers and confirm the authenticity of the coins before making a purchase.

Regardless of where you purchase junk silver coins, do your research to ensure you’re buying from a reputable source.

The process of selling junk coins typically involves the following steps:

  1. Determine the Silver Content: Before selling junk silver coins, determine and confirm their silver content. Most junk silver coins are 90% silver or higher, though some can be 35% to 40% silver, with the remaining percentage usually consisting of copper. Knowing the silver content of the coins will help determine their value and ensure that you receive a fair price when selling.
  2. Find a Buyer: There are several options for selling junk silver coins, including coin dealers, online marketplaces, and auctions. For example, some popular online marketplaces for selling junk silver coins include eBay and Craigslist.
  3. Consider Factors When Selling: When selling junk silver coins, there are several factors to consider, such as the current market price of silver, and any fees or commissions associated with the sale. Factor these considerations into your selling price to ensure you receive a fair price for your coins.
  4. Prepare Your Coins for Sale: Organize your junk coins by date and denomination. Doing this will make it easier for buyers to examine and track what you have. It is also highly recommended you don’t clean your coins.Why? Most buyers prefer to buy coins in their original condition. The second reason is that cleaning your junk silver coins or any collectible coin can leave scratches and damage behind.
  5. Price Your Coins: Pricing your junk silver coins can be tricky, as the value of silver can fluctuate frequently. Stay up-to-date on current market prices and factor in any commissions or fees associated with the sale. Another option is to have a trusted professional give you an appraisal of your coins.

Don’t be afraid to shop around and get multiple offers from different buyers. This can increase your chances of getting a fair price for your coins and help you find the best buyer.

It depends. Do you want to buy junk silver for investment purposes? Or as a hobby? Perhaps both? Buying junk silver has its pros and cons. If it’s for investment purposes, your biggest risk is you could lose money. Some factors affect the value of junk silver, such as the spot price of silver, its supply and demand, and world events like wars or natural disasters. So you will need to do your research to determine if it’s worth it to you.

If you’re doing it simply as a hobby and not expecting to make money, then it is worth buying. One of the benefits of purchasing junk silver is its relatively low cost. It is easy to buy and sell, making it popular among investors and coin collectors. Another pro is that junk silver is still legal tender in the United States. So even if its intrinsic value falls, it’ll maintain its denomination or face value.

You now know everything you need to know about junk silver! If you’re ready to buy junk silver coins, be sure you are buying from a trusted source, such as ModernCoinMart. Why us? We’ve been a reputable (and one of the largest) online seller of junk coins, silver bullion, and other collectibles since 2004. Visit our site or blog to learn more!

https://www.moderncoinmart.com/silver/silver-bullion/90-40-and-35-silver

https://www.usmint.gov/news/inside-the-mint/one-hundred-years-of-silver-dollar-coinage-1878-1978

https://www.coincollecting.com/what-is-junk-silver

https://www.coincollecting.com/when-were-dimes-and-quarters-made-of-silver

https://www.usmint.gov/learn/collecting-basics/caring-for-your-coin-collection

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/spotprice.asp

https://www.moderncoinmart.com/blog/post/can-silver-or-gold-be-bought-at-spot-price

http://www.coinnews.net/90-percent-silver-coins/kennedy-silver-half-dollar/

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