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Why Buy Junk Silver Coins?

Junk Silver Coins
90% Silver Dimes


Junk silver coins are circulated 90% US silver coins, minted prior to 1965 that are referred to as “junk” because they contain no collectible or numismatic value. Instead, junk silver coins are bought and sold purely for their silver content. In fact, junk silver coins are so popular that we have a page of our website dedicated to these coins, which can be found here.

When you buy junk silver from a coin dealer, you may make a bulk purchase, such as a $1,000 face value bag, which contains approximately 715 ounces of pure silver, and closely tracks the spot price of silver. A $100 face value silver bag, meanwhile, contains slightly less than 72 ounces of actual silver weight. You can also buy silver coins individually from a dealer, or in smaller amounts, if you don’t have the budget for an entire bag of coins.

Why Buy Junk Silver?

There are two common reasons people like buying silver coins minted prior to 1965: they can be used as a way to invest in physical silver at reasonable prices, or for survival purposes in the event of a monetary collapse; although, these coins offer many other benefits as well.

There are several other reasons to pick up junk silver, including:

  • Hedging against inflation. A 90% silver quarter was worth its face value in 1964, but today is worth nearly 15 times more.
  • Bartering. A one ounce silver coin can be difficult to trade for everyday items if there’s an emergency, but junk silver is available in smaller denominations.
  • Low premiums. With a value based primarily on its silver content, junk silver coins sell for lower premiums than bullion coins, such as American silver eagles.
  • Easy for large and small investments. Because you can buy junk silver in small or large quantities, this option is available to investors with large or small budgets.

Understanding the Premium on Silver Coins

Uncirculated and collectible silver coins, which have numismatic value, oftentimes have premiums well in excess of their silver value. Buying silver coins that contain numismatic value should be left to those individuals who are familiar with the rare coin market, as these coins are valued primarily for their mintage, condition and collectible value rather than their actual silver content.

Junk silver, on the other hand, typically sells at a much lower premium than rare coins or bullion.  While the premium for these coins is always changing, based on the spot price of silver, it’s not uncommon to find these coins available at premiums of 10% or less, depending on the size of your purchase. In contrast, silver bullion coins can run as much as 20% or more over the silver content of the coins.

This makes buying junk silver coins one of the best ways to purchase physical silver. The coins are highly recognizable, are rarely if ever counterfeited, do not require verification and have no collectible value. Unlike bullion or collectible coins, you can buy junk silver at a very low premium — the perfect strategy for the cost conscious silver investor.

Current Value of Common Junk Silver Coins

To demonstrate the value of junk silver — and what you may have lying around in your coin jar — here are the current values for some common US junk silver coins assuming a $20 silver price.

  • 1942-1945 War Nickel, 35% silver. Face value: $0.05. Silver value: $1.13
  • 1916-1945 Mercury Dime, 90% silver. Face value: $0.10. Silver value: $1.45
  • 1932-1964 Washington Quarter, 90% silver. Face value: $0.25. Silver value: $3.61
  • 1916-1947 Walking Liberty Half, 90% silver. Face value: $0.50. Silver value: $7.24
  • 1878-1921 Morgan Dollar, 90% silver. Face value: $1.00. Silver value: $15.47

While not technically junk silver coins, U.S. silver dollars minted in 1935 and earlier can be bought and sold for reasonable premiums.

For individuals who are interested in tracking the melt value of junk silver coins, you may visit Coinflation’s website for up to the minute pricing on these coins.

Selling Junk Silver is Just as Easy as Buying it!

Unlike many forms of precious metal investments, such as gold or silver bars, it’s just as easy to sell junk silver as it is to buy. Because junk silver has no numismatic value, there is no need to find a collector.  Rather, your goal should be to find an individual that is interested in purchasing physical silver as an investment, which is a much easier task.  Also, as discussed above, the coins require no verification as to their authenticity and they may be easily spent or traded in small amounts, whereas silver bullion coins are rarely less than a troy ounce. Junk silver still retains its legal tender status, making these coins widely recognized and easy to move.

Given their popularity, there is always a market for junk silver, so you will have no trouble selling junk silver coins to coin dealers or private buyers when the time comes to liquidate your holdings.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis
Tony Davis is the owner of Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, a full service Atlanta based coin and bullion dealer specializing in buying, selling and appraising coins and coin collections of all types and sizes. Tony frequently writes on various economic and numismatic related topics affecting the coin and bullion markets and has been published on some of the industry’s leading websites, including Coin Week, the American Numismatic Association, Coin Collector, Coinflation, and Coin Auctions Help, just to name a few. Visit Atlanta Gold & Coin’s website at to obtain additional information on the products, services and educational resources offered by his company. Tony can be reached at or at 404-236-9744
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