Silver Content Of US Coins And Their Melt Values
The silver content of US coins has changed several times throughout the years. Dollar, half dollar, quarters and dimes dated 1964 and earlier contain 90% ASW (Actual Silver Weight). Since 1965, the US has not made any coins containing silver except the half dollar coin between 1965 – 1970 which contain 40% silver. Since then, the value of silver had risen so much that us silver coin melt values have a much higher value than they ever did as currency. Some people were and still are buying rolls of old coins as an investment for the future.
Many of these coins can still be found in private collections or by people hoarding them for the future but very few are still found in circulation.
US Silver Dollars
Dollar coins were originally made from gold in the United States. In the late 19th century, beginning with the Trade dollars and the Morgan dollars of the 1870’s, US dollars were issued primarily in silver. Silver dollar coins continued in circulation until the United States stopped making dollar coins from silver in the 1960’s.
In most cases, the silver content of silver dollars was very high. Most coins issued had a fineness of .9000. The last minted US silver dollar was the Peace dollar, which was issued between 1921 and 1935. They were briefly released again in 1965 but were quickly melted down. It is said that no known specimens of this last issue are known to exist and, due to regulation, their possession is illegal anyway.
As previously mentioned one of the most sought after silver dollar coins are Morgans, commonly considered one of the world’s most highly collected group of coins, they were produced from 1878-1921. It is said that over 657 million Morgan silver dollars were produced during that timeframe but 100’s of millions of them have been melted over the years for their silver content and as with all silver bearing coinage this practice will continue as the price of silver continues to rise. The silver content of morgan silver dollars were all 90% silver and 10% copper, the actual weight of the coin itself is 26.73 grams and the actual silver weight (ASW) is .772 troy ounce.
As the price of silver continues to rise the value of us silver coins rises as well, as an example, the current spot price of silver is $33.52, each dollar coin contains .772 troy ounce of silver so the melt value of the coin would be $25.86.
As a collector’s item, the value may vary depending on the condition of the coin. Personally I have 10 old Morgans that I have saved over the years, they are not in the best of condition but I believe as silver rises even less than perfect coin will continue to rise in price. I would hate to think that I would ever melt them as it really is a coin of significant beauty.
US Silver Half Dollars
While they are uncommon now, half dollar coins have been minted with more consistency than any other coin except for the penny. From the inception of the Republic until 1964, the government minted these coins in 90% or .900 silver.
The last coin of this type to contain a significant silver portion was the Kennedy half-dollar, which was issued in 1964. Between 1965 and 1970, Kennedy half-dollars were the only coins made with silver, the kennedy half dollars silver content silver was reduced to 40%. After 1970, the US stopped using silver in its coinage entirely and in 1971 it was made using the now standard copper nickel composition used today in all dollar, half dollar, quarters, dimes and nickels.
The value of silver half dollars varies. The half dollar coins weigh approximately 12.5 grams, if they are pre 1964 they were made with 90% actual silver content which equals 11.25 grams or .36 troy ounces. Using the current silver spot price of $33.52 each pre 1964 each half dollar would be worth $12.06 as melt vaule.
As collector’s items, the older coins would be worth considerably more if in Very Fine (VF) any above.
US Silver Quarters
The US government began issuing silver quarters in 1796. In 1964, the last silver quarters were minted. Since that time, all quarters have been made from a copper and nickel combination.
The US quarter silver content was always high. Their fineness was rated at .9000. The last type of silver quarter was the Washington quarter, which was minted between the years 1931 and 1964. Each quarter weighs approximately 6.25 grams which is equivalent to 5.6 grams or .18 troy ounces of pure silver, at the current spot price of $33.52 each quarter would be worth $6.03.
US Silver Dimes
Since their first minting in 1796, US silver dimes have also had a silver content of nearly 90% or .900 silver. Like other US coins, dimes stopped containing silver after 1965. Now dimes are made of the familiar copper and nickel combination that other US coins contain. Each dime dated 1964 and older weighs approximately 2.5 grams and contains 2.25 grams or .07 troy ounces of silver, at the current spot price of $33.52 each dime would be worth $2.42 as a melt value.
As you can probably assume as the price of silver continues to rise any remaining older US coinage that contains silver will become more scarce as people will be inclined to sell it for it’s melt value. I would suggest hanging on to any older coinage you have that is in decent condition as eventually coins of this caliber will also rise in value for their collectiblility.