Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Junk Silver Coins

What is Junk Silver?

"Junk Silver" in the numismatic circle refers to worn circulated silver coins. For example, the US silver coins, minted before 1965, are often called junk silver coins. These coins have at least 40% - 90% silver content, depending on what type of coins. The picture on the right are US Morgan Dollar, Peace dollar, Mercury Dimes, Walkers, Barbers dimes.

As guide, if you are starting to keep junk silver, look for those with 90% silver content. I have listed them below

These circulated worn coins and do not have any collector's value because there are signs of wear and tear, scratch marks, nasty nicks etc. "Ugly" can be another word to described the coins BUT, the value lies in the silver content . Other countries that uses this informal term "Junk Silver" are the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia


For example, the US coinage,


  • Morgan (1878-1921) -- 90-percent silver
  • Peace (1921-1928 and 1934-1935) -- 90-percent silver


  • Liberty Head "Barber" (1892-1915) -- 90-percent silver
  • Walking Liberty (1916-1947) -- 90-percent silver
  • Franklin (1948-1963) -- 90-percent silver
  • Kennedy (1964) -- 90-percent silver
  • Kennedy (1965-1970) -- 40-percent silver


  • Liberty Head "Barber" (1892-1916) -- 90-percent silver
  • Standing Liberty (1916-1930) -- 90-percent silver
  • Washington (1932, 1934-1964) -- 90-percent silver


  • Liberty Head "Barber" (1892-1916) -- 90-percent silver
  • Winged Liberty Head "Mercury" (1916-1945) -- 90-percent silver
  • Roosevelt (1946-1964) -- 90-percent silver


  • Jefferson "Wartime" (1942 (partial)-1945) -- 35-percent silver

Common U.K. Junk Silver Coins

UK Junk silver coins that were minted before 1946, e.g. Edward VII, George V and George VI crowns


  • Edward VII (1902) -- 92.5-percent silver
  • George V (1927-1936) -- 50-percent silver
  • George VI (1937) -- 50-percent silver

Half Crowns

  • Victoria (1837-1901) -- 92.5-percent silver
  • Edward VII (1902-1910) -- 92.5-percent silver
  • George V (1911-1919) -- 92.5-percent silver
  • George V (1920-1936) -- 50-percent silver
  • George VI (1937-1946) -- 50-percent silver


In the US, they are usually sold in a a "bag" with a face value of e.g. $1000. Depending on what type of coins, it usually contain 90 % of silver. This is another inexpensive method of buying silver. If silver price rises up ten cents, a bag of US silver coins might rise $70. It depends. But of late, the price of Junk Silver is already commanding a small premium above spot, not as cheap as they used to be.

If your looking into buying junk silver, $1,000 face usually comes in a bag and it has about 715 ounces of pure silver when refined. Newly minted coins with 90% contained about 723 ounces of silver. For Junk Silver, due to "wear and tear", a bag of dimes or quarters will average about 715 ounces.

Coins like Mercury and Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarters, Franklin, Kennedy, Morgans, Walking Liberty are considered as junk silver. But do take note that even though it may be considered as junk silver, a single key date coin or error coin can be worth hundreds of dollars. For example, a key date 1916d mercury dime in fine condition is worth hundreds of dollars.

These are some old US coins. Try searching around your house, attic, basement, kitchen cabinet ... who knows what surprises you might find.


Junk silver does have few advantages over traditional silver bullion. Firstly, they are cheaper and you might be able to buy them near spot price if you are lucky. If not, even if they command a little much high than spot, they are still cheaper than Pure Silver Bullion coins/bars. Secondly, in small quantities, you might already have some of these coin in your possession. Search your drawers, attic, cupboards, piggy banks etc. Thirdly, junk silver is relatively easier to get. Think about it, about 3 Franklin half dollars adds up to 1 ounce of silver. As I have mentioned, the price of junk silver is now commanding a small premium about spot, so you need to hunt around for a good bargain

If you are interested in a bag of junk silver, make some phone calls to a few dealers and look for the best price. They have different bag sizes. In the US, Tulving company is a big Gold & Silver Bullion Coin Dealer that you can try calling. They do have some special promotion once in awhile.

Or you can try your luck by going to a flea market and try your luck. It can be fun

My advise if you want to invest in junk silver - Go for the 90%. The 40% can be quite bulky and take up too much space in your home.

Have fun