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US Silver Coins: The Ultimate Guide on How to Calculate the Value

The Ultimate Guide on How to Calculate the Silver Value of U.S. Silver Coins

As silver continues to gain traction as a viable alternative investment and as a hedge against inflation, more and more individuals are making their first purchase of this intriguing white metal. When folks select traditional-size investments, such 1 oz silver coins, bars or rounds, the value of their investments is fairly easy to calculate. It merely involves Silver Coin Buyersmultiplying the silver spot price by the number of ounces.

However, calculating the silver price of U.S. silver coins issued in 1964 and earlier can prove to be a trickier venture; even for veteran investors.

Before we continue, it’s important to provide a bit of background on the coins that we’re referring to. Up to and including 1964, U.S. dimes, quarters and half dollars were composed of 90% silver. The same holds true for U.S. silver dollars issued up to 1935.

Not to be outdone by their larger counterparts, U.S. nickels produced from 1942 – 1945 also contain silver, but at a less purity than the previously mentioned coins. Unbeknownst to most investors, U.S. half dollars issued from 1965 – 1970 are composed of 40% silver.

In most years, the U.S. Mint produced large quantities of dimes, quarters, half dollars and silver dollars. Considering the high mintage, these coins aren’t typically very popular among coin collectors or numismatists, with the exception of Morgan and Peace silver dollars. However, 90% silver coins are among the most sought-after coins of coin and silver bullion investors. Common-date U.S. silver coins are oftentimes referred to as junk silver coins, as they have little to no collectible value. Another common term used in the industry is “constitutional silver.” Whether you plan to sell your junk silver coins to silver coin buyers, hold on to them as an investment or ultimately pass them down to your heirs, knowing how to calculate the silver value of your coins will likely help in determining when and/or if to sell your silver coins.

 

In this piece, we’re going to share with you some formulas and calculations so that you’re able to not only calculate the total number of ounces of silver in your possession, but also the estimated value. However, before doing so, the first step is to properly sort your coins.

 

Sort your silver coins according to denomination and date:

First things first.

Take some time to properly sort your various denomination coins. We recommend that you sort and group all of your nickels dated between 1942 and 1945 together. Do the same for dimes, quarters and half dollars minted in 1964 and earlier, half dollars minted from 1965–1970, and U.S. dollar coins dated 1935 and earlier.

These coins contain various purities of silver and sell at different prices based on their demand.

Below, we will break down the different “junk” coins and how to find their value.

 

Examine your nickels dated between 1942 and 1945:

35% WAR NICKELS

Some nickels that were minted in 1942 and all nickels produced from 1943 – 1945 contain 56 percent copper, 35 percent silver, and 9 percent manganese. The shift was made from nickel to silver during World War II because of the high value and demand for nickel during that time. Look at the reverse side of the coin to verify if it’s a wartime silver nickel.

If you find a large letter above Monticello’s image, the coin contains 35 percent silver. The letter or the mint mark on the coin tells you where the coin was made.  Possible letters include “P,” “D,” and “S,” which signify which mint produced the coins. namely the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints.

The calculation to obtain the current melt value of silver war nickels is as follows:

 

Silver Spot Price x .057 = Melt Value (Approximately 18 coins in an ounce)

Group together your silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars dated 1964 and earlier:JUNK Coins

As we noted above, all pre-1965 U.S. dimes, quarters and half dollars are composed of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. After 1964, silver was no longer used to produce U.S. dimes and quarters.  The calculation to obtain the silver value of your 90% silver dimes, quarters and half dollars is as follows:

 

Dimes: Silver Spot Price x .07238 = Melt Value (Approximately 14 coins in an ounce)

Quarters: Silver Spot Price x .1808 = Melt Value (Approximately 5.5 coins in an ounce)

Half Dollars: Silver Spot Price x .3616 = Melt Value (Approximately 2.75 coins in an ounce)

Generally speaking, half dollars tend to trade at slightly higher prices on a per-ounce basis due to the popularity of the coins, so don’t be surprised if you’re quoted different rates per dollar or as a multiple of face value for these coins. Alternatively, when looking to sell, you can expect to receive slightly higher prices on these silver coins.

Gather your silver half dollars dated from 1965-1970:

While the production of dimes and quarters containing silver ceased after 1964, this wasn’t the case with half dollars. Half dollars that were produced from 1965 through 1970 contain 60 percent copper and 40 percent silver. However, after 1970, the use of silver was completely eliminated from U.S. half dollars.  Most of the public is unaware of this, which provides a great opportunity for those individuals that have time to request and inspect rolls of half dollars from the bank.

Use the following calculation to determine the silver value of your 40% silver half dollars:

40% Half Dollars: Silver Spot Price x .15 = Melt Value (Approximately 6.75 coins in an ounce)

Set aside your silver dollars minted in 1935 and earlier:

Selling Coins

Some of the most popular U.S. silver coins are Morgan silver dollars, which were produced from 1878 – 1921 and Peace silver dollars, minted from 1921 -1935.  1935 was the last year that dollar coins produced for general circulation contained silver content. These coins contain 90% silver and weigh 26.7 grams.  With the exception of worn, damaged, cleaned or otherwise altered coins, 90% silver dollars typically contain collectible value, which means that they sell for more than their silver content; however, it’s still important to know how to arrive at the silver value of your silver dollars, which is as follows:

Morgan & Peace Silver Dollars: Silver Spot Price x .774 = Melt Value (Approximately 1.3 coins per ounce)

We’ve covered Morgan and Peace silver dollars extensively in the past. For those individuals interested in learning more about these coins, we recommend that you check out our blog.

Research the spot price of silver:

Before you can calculate the value of your U.S. silver coins, it’s important to identify the prevailing spot price of silver in the marketplace. This will tell you the current value of a troy ounce of silver in the commodities market. Live spot prices can be found on Kitco’s website.

While common-date U.S. silver coins trade at lower rates than collectible or numismatic coins, there’s still a large and active market for these coins.  Using the above guidelines will help you to determine the melt value of your coins to ensure that you receive a fair price when the time comes to sell your silver coins. Silver buyers engage in such transactions on a daily basis.

 

In Summary

You may have heard the term “junk silver” or 90% silver before. If you are interested in purchasing some to have on hand just in case of an emergency, check out our current inventory and give us a call at: 678-498-6165.

If you are looking to sell your 90% silver coins, you can view our up-to-the-minute “What We Pay” page for pricing and give us a call at the number above.

We look forward to working with you in the near future!

Tony Davis
Tony Davis