What is “Junk Silver”?

Junk silver is a colloquial term used to describe old, circulated coins that contain a small amount of silver. The term “junk” is used to reflect the coins’ low monetary value compared to their bullion content. These coins, which include dimes, quarters, and half-dollars minted before 1965 in the United States, are popular among investors who are looking for a way to invest in silver bullion at a lower cost.

The silver content of these coins ranges from about 90% to 40%, with the older coins having the highest silver content. Junk silver is widely available, affordable, and is often considered a way to invest in silver while avoiding the premium prices associated with modern bullion coins.


Which Junk Silver Coins have the most silver?

The majority of coins minted in the United States prior to 1964 are made up of 90% silver content. The more silver a coin contains the more silver value it has.

Take a look at the 1932-1964 Washington Quarter. The “Face Value” is .25 cents. The silver value based on the content is roughly $4 dollars today. This means that the coin is worth more in silver than denominational value.

Silver Coin

What is the difference between face value and silver coin value?

The face value of a coin refers to the value assigned to the coin by the government that minted it. For example, a US dime has a face value of $0.10. This is the value that the coin can be used to purchase goods and services, and it is what the coin is worth as a form of currency.

The silver value of a coin, on the other hand, refers to the value of the metal content of the coin. For example, the silver value of a US dime minted before 1965 is determined by the current market price of silver and the weight of the silver in the coin. The silver value of a coin can be significantly higher than its face value, especially when the market price of silver is high.



Silver Coins

The difference between face value and silver value is that face value is the value assigned to a coin as currency, while silver value is the value of the metal content of the coin based on the current market price of silver. Investors who buy junk silver coins often do so to take advantage of the difference between face value and silver value, and to invest in silver at a lower cost.

Some Tips on How to Value Assorted Silver Coins Dated 1964 and before?

There are really two ways to do this based on the silver content.


You can simply weigh all the coins, and calculate the silver value. If you have 1 Troy Ounce, and a Troy Ounce of silver is worth $24, then the silver content is 90% giving you a silver value of $21.6.

Face Value:

This is based on the denomination of the coins. Take five dimes and two quarters and what does this total in currency value or “Face Value”.

  • One Dollar. 10 cents + 10 cents + 10 cents + 10 cents +10 cents + 25 cents + 25 cents is equal to One Dollar.

Face value example:

  • If you take two 50 cent coins, it will equal again one dollar.

When dealing with the majority of pre-1964 coins, the content of silver can be calculated based on “Face Value”. One dollar in coins, no matter the denomination has the same silver content.

  • Dimes: A 1892-1916 Silver Barber Dimes, 1916-1945 Silver Mercury Dimes, and 1946-1964 Silver Roosevelt Dimes all have the same exact weight and silver content.

    • Weight: 2.5 grams

  • Quarters: A 1892-1916 Silver Barber Quarters, 1916-1930 Silver Standing Liberty Quarters, 1932-1964 Silver Washington Quarters all have the same exact weight and silver content of the silver quarters.

    • Weight: 6.25 grams

  • Half Dollars: A 1892-1915 Silver Barber Half Dollars, 1916-1947 Silver Walking Liberty Half Dollars, 1964 Silver Franklin Half Dollars all have the same exact weight and silver content. Because of the weight silver, half dollars are a great return on exchanging for the silver value.

    • Weight: 12.5 grams.

Do you notice anything unique about these weights?

One dime weighs 2.5grams. Five dimes will weigh 2.5×5=12.5grams and equally fifty cents or a half dollars. Do you notice what this weight of 12.5 grams matches? You got it a Half Dollar. This is why the calculations work. These minted coins are not only based on 90% silver but the weights add up just like the denominations.

One dollar in coin “Face Value” is equal to 25grams.

  • Exceptions: A 1965-1970 Half Dollar is only 40% silver. A Morgan Dollars and Peace Dollars will weigh 26.73 grams. There are a few other exceptions, but generally, the rule above will apply.

Not everyone knows how to use face value, but the experts typically prefer this method. It is easy and quick math and never fails. Some dealers and most are still willing to calculate the value based on the weight.

Morgan Silver Dollar

What are the Most Valuable Silver Coins in American History?

The property and value of famous silver coins in American History can change. But here are a few examples:

Morgan Silver Dollar (1878-1921): This coin is one of the most popular and widely collected in the United States, due to its historical significance and intricate design.

Peace Silver Dollar (1921-1935): This coin was minted to commemorate the end of World War I and is also highly sought after due to its rarity and historical significance.

Silver Coins

American Silver Eagle (1986-present): This coin is the official silver bullion coin of the United States and is highly sought after by investors due to its high silver content and government backing.

Walking Liberty Half Dollar (1916-1947): This coin is known for its beautiful design, featuring Lady Liberty walking towards the sunrise, and is highly sought after by collectors and investors.

Barber Silver Coinage (1892-1916): This coin series, which includes the Barber Dime, Quarter, and Half Dollar, is highly sought after due to its historical significance and intricate design.


Axel’s Pawn In Spokane, WA

Axel’s Pawn has experts who can assist you buy, sell, and pawn your Silver Dollars, Washington Quarters, Walking Liberty coins, Kennedy Half Dollars, and bullion coins. They understand coin collecting and have coins at a great price.

Removing all misconceptions about Pawn Shops, it is great to understand they have a vast knowledge base and amount of services they provide. As a trusted coin buyer their team regularly pays more than other local Bullion and Coin Dealers, because they service and specialize in several areas. This allows them to work on smaller margins, and get the most cash payout to clients.


Axel’s Pawn also accepts gold, other precious metals, fine jewelry, diamonds, designer watches, luxury bags, tools, and other valuable everyday items. They are experts in more than silver coins, so stop in and see them today! If you need fast money or looking to pick up coins as an investment, they are ready to help.

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