Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pre-1965 silver coins, how much are they worth?

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If you are old enough to remember when the U.S. converted from 90% silver coins to clad coinage in 1965, then you probably have a pile of those silver coins hidden away in a closet or safety deposit box.

Or if you are too young to remember, you may have inherited a hoard of pre-1965 silver dimes, quarters, and half dollars.

Remember when half dollars actually circulated?

During the 1960s, the old adage of bad money chasing good money out of circulation certainly held true as millions of Americans stashed away their silver coins as clad coins made their debut.
So, how much are your silver coins worth?

For most of you, your stash of silver consists of common date circulated coins, nothing special. There are no key dates or rare die varieties - no hidden gems that will make you rich. The coins are mostly worn, circulated coins pulled from pocket change as clad coins made their appearance.

What you have is a pile of junk silver!

You know they are worth more than face value because you've seen the news reports about the great bull market for silver. But just how much above face value are they worth?

Luckily the answer is quite simple to figure out. Since the silver content of dimes, quarters, and half dollars is proportionate to their denomination, it is easy to calculate that for each dollar in face value there is .7234 ounces of silver originally in the coins. Since most of the coins are worn from circulation, dealers tend to figure the amount of silver left in the coins at about .715 ounces of silver per dollar of face value.

[Most Recent Quotes from]So, using the current spot price of silver (see silver price chart) we can calculate the approximate value of the silver content of the coins. Simply multiply .715 x [spot price of silver] x [face value of the coins]. The 10% copper content of the coins is usually ignored since the value is so small.

Assuming you had $100 face value in coins and the spot price of silver is $13, you would perform the following calculation: .715 x $13 x $100 = $929.50.

The $100 in pocket change would now be worth close to $929.50 based on the silver content of the coins. But before you rush to cash in those coins, you might want to take a quick look through them one more time for that hidden gem. Any 1921 quarter hidden in that pile, regardless of mint, might just make your day a happy one!


At 8:07 AM, Blogger Scott said...

You can go to and use their calculator to determine the melt value of silver coins.

At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Louis Harvey said...

Hello A.C. Dwyer,
Your blog page is filled with very interesting articles of past and present numismatic history. I enyoy reading what you have revealed on the different topic above continue feeding us this kind of informations so that we can be up to date on some of the history of our coinage.

At 4:41 AM, Blogger mike said...

will the dealers give me that price you showed how to get or will they lowball me?

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike, they should be pretty close. The above ratio figures in a little profit for the dealer. I'm sure there are those that will lowball you, but since you can determine the value ahead of time, you'll know if they are.

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

I have been checking around and most pay 27x face value and sell at 30x face value with $40/troy oz silver price approx. Their sale price adds up to very closely for value.

At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy, that's good to know. The calculation in the article above using .715 gives you the approximate melt value of the silver, but it's not what a dealer would actually pay. Based on what you are saying, then replacing .715 with .675 (same as 27x) would give you the price you can expect from a dealer.


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