Junk silver prices fluctuate following the spot price of silver bullion, with “junk silver” referring to coins whose value is found in their metal, notably silver, overshadowing any collectible or neumenistic value. Thus the term is deceptive; these coins can actually be quite valuable. In October 2010, I spent $20 on a small collection of pre-1965 coins at our local flea market. After purchase, I calculated their melt value: $180+.
U.S. half-dollars, quarters and dimes minted before the year 1965 contain 90% silver and 10% copper. For example, a roll of 40 pre-1965 quarters, with a face value of $10, contains 7 troy ounces of silver. Multiply the current spot price of silver by 7 to yield the dollar value of those coins. As of October 2010, with the spot price hovering at $24.20/ ounce, those 40 quarters were worth $169.40.
Whether you are dealing with pre-1965 half-dollar coins, quarters or dimes or some combination of the three, they have the same metal weight per $100 face value: 71.5 troy ounces. Thus if you have $100 face value in these coins, simply multiple 71.5 by the current spot price to find the dollar price for your coins. If you are fortunate enough to have $1,000 face value junk silver coins, multiply the spot price by 715 to know what your coins are worth.
Calculate smaller amounts of coins as follows:
- $10 face value (i.e. 40 quarters or 20 half-dollars or 100 dimes) is 7 troy ounces. Multiply 7 by the spot price to find out how much your coins are worth.
- $5 face value is about 3.5 troy ounces; multiply the spot price by 3.5 to get the silver value.
- Half-dollars made of 90% silver are worth 0.3617 times spot.
- Pre-1965 quarters are worth 0.1808 times silver spot.
- Any 1916-1964 dime’s worth is found by multiplying spot by 0.0723.
Using these formulas, you can easily find current junk silver prices for the coins you have in your possession or are considering for purchase. While the spot prices of precious metals fluctuate by the day and values may vary drastically from month to month, knowing how much silver is in each of these coins, or a collection of them, will allow you to quickly calculate their value.
Some coins containing precious metals are still in circulation today, as some people remain unaware as to their real value. As the dollar decreases in worth, these coins actually gain in value. Should you find them in your change, pull them out and save them for a rainy day.