Thursday, June 30, 2011

Silver Investing - Recognizing U.S. Silver Coins

For the last few years, I have been carrying an 1881 Morgan Silver Dollar with other change in my pocket. This is not something I would recommend others do as the silver content of this coin gets a little less all the time. But I really like the Morgan dollar and will probably continue to carry it until it will be difficult to tell if the image of Lady Liberty is a man or a woman. When coins become this faded in detail, they reach the status of what some of us in the business called "pond skimmers".

What is interesting about this is the reaction I get when getting change out for a purchase. Clerks spot this coin which usually results in comments like "what is that" or "my Dad (or Grandpa, Grandma, etc.) has one of those" but they have no idea what it is or its value. If I were to tell them the value of this Morgan dollar is about $26.75 (with spot silver at $35), they would think I am putting them on.

Not knowing which coins have value can be costly. Not long ago my wife was in our local bank when a couple came in with two coffee cans of quarters. They found them when renovating an old house and wondered if the bank would exchange them for cash! I would bet a bunch that these were pre-1965 quarters worth about $6.25 apiece ($35 spot) and the bank was only too happy to give them a $1.00 Federal Reserve Note for every four quarters they turned in.

So here is a general refresher on common U.S. silver coins:

U.S. Nickels - only nickels between 1942-1945 contained a small amount of silver (.0563 troy ounces). There is no silver in other nickels.

U.S.Dimes - pre-1965 dimes contain .0715 troy ounces of silver and include the Roosevelt Dime (1946-1964), the Mercury/Winged Liberty Head Dime (1916-1945) and the Barber/Liberty Head Dime (1892-1916). It takes about 14 silver dimes to equal one ounce of silver.

U.S. Quarters - pre-1965 quarters contain .1788 troy ounces of silver and include the Washington Quarter (1932-1964), the Standing Liberty Quarter (1916-1930) and the Barber/Liberty Head Quarter (1892-1916).

U.S. Half-Dollars - pre-1965 half dollars contain .3575 troy ounces of silver and include the 1964 Kennedy Half-Dollar, the Franklin Half-Dollar (1948-1963), the Walking Liberty Half-Dollar (1916-1947) and the Barber/Liberty Head Half Dollar (1892-1915).

Kennedy Half-Dollars (1965-1970) - these coins are 40% silver and contain .1475 troy ounces of silver.

U.S. Silver Dollars - these include the Peace Silver Dollar (1921-1935) and the Morgan Silver Dollar (1878-1921). Their silver content is .7650 troy ounces of silver.

The silver content specified above is for circulated coins. Uncirculated coins have a slightly higher silver content since they have no wear associated with them.

Based on increased traffic to my silver sites Silver Investing Simplified and Silver Investing Guide, it appears more and more people are getting "educated" on the value of silver coins but still far from the majority. You are wise to be learning more about silver coins and, hopefully, investing in them.

Thanks for reading.

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