Whether your goal is to expand your coin collection, sell your silver coins, or to simply display them, it is a valuable skill to be able to tell the difference between silver and clad minted coins. In earlier years, the metallic content of coins played a critical role in determining its overall worth and value. However, as the price of precious metals began to rise, many countries stopped using silver in the composition of their coins. As you acquire coins for your collection, this guide will help you identify the difference between silver and clad minted coins.
Composition of Silver and Clad Minted Coins
When it comes to the difference between silver and clad minted coins, the distinction lies in the metallic composition of each. Whether these are dimes, quarters, half dollars, or dollar coins, a majority of U.S. silver minted coins for general circulation are composed of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper. On the other hand, half dollar coins that that were minted between 1965 and 1970 are composed of 40 percent silver and 60 percent copper, and nickels minted between 1942 and 1945 are composed of 35 percent silver, 56 percent copper and 9 percent manganese. Clad minted coins have a copper core and an outer layer that is made of copper and nickel.
Value of Silver and Clad Minted Coins
In the world of precious metals, silver holds intrinsically more value than copper or nickel. Having said that, it isn’t difficult to understand why many countries have ceased the use of silver in the production of their coins altogether. However, it is this very fact that makes silver coins more attractive in the eyes of coin collectors and coin investors. But keep in mind that the value of clad minted coins has also historically appreciated over time. This is evident in older two, three and five cent coins whose value has only grown through the years.
Dates of Silver and Clad Minted Coins
All in all, the easiest way to distinguish between silver and clad minted coins is to confirm the date of production. All dimes and quarters that were minted in 1964 and earlier contain silver. Conversely, all dimes and quarters minted after this year, with the exception of some commemorative and proof coins, were minted without silver. For half dollars, all coins minted from 1971 onward contain no silver.
Physical Differences between Silver and Clad Minted Coins
When it comes to weight, silver coins are heavier than clad minted ones. As a concrete example, silver Washington quarters weigh 6.25 grams, while clad Washington quarters are 5.7 grams. The exterior of both also differ in the aging process. Silver coins often tarnish over time, while a copper tint appears on clad coins. The sound is also different for each when both coins are dropped. Silver coins have a higher pitched sound and ring to them, while non-silver coins have more of a dull thud.
Whether your intent is to sell silver coins or purchase them to expand your personal collection, it is helpful to be able to tell the difference between silver and clad minted coins. In order to do so, familiarize yourself with the composition, dates and physical differences between each. When in doubt, consult with a silver coin dealer, who can help to clear up any questions that you might have.