Modern Silver Coins - Appraising Your Coin Collection

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Copyright 2015 by Kevin Flynn, All Rights Reserved

On modern U.S. coin series struck for circulation that contain silver are worth primarily their melt value, especially given the high cost of silver. The Roosevelt dimes and Washington quarters contain 90% silver up through 1964. The Franklin half dollars and 1964 Kennedy half dollars are 90% silver. The 1965 through 1970 Kennedy half dollars are 40% silver. Some of the Eisenhower dollars were struck on 40% silver planchets.

There are other rare exceptions, the most rare and dramatic of these are the off-metal error coins, which are also referred to as transitional varieties. For example, 90% silver planchets were used for the dime, quarter, and half dollar in 1964. In 1965, it was decided to use clad planchets for the dime and quarter and 40% silver planchets for the half dollar. A few of the dime, quarter, and half-dollar 90% silver planchets were accidentally struck with 1965 dated working dies. These coins can be worth between $5,000 and $10,000. For 1965 dated dimes and quarters, simply look at the rim of the coin to see if it is silver across, or if you see the darker middle that is the copper center of the clad coinage.

There were over 400 million 1964 Kennedy half dollars struck, with many being saved in original rolls, therefore high grade uncirculated coins are not that rare. But, there are many different doubled dies and a few repunched mint marks known for 1964 and 1964-D Kennedys, some of which can bring $100. The question becomes what effort and time are you willing to commit to find these die varieties. When appraising, this effort is based upon the level the collector wants me to check them. Normally, I will scan through uncirculated specimens.

For silver Roosevelt dimes, Franklin half dollars, and Eisenhower dollars, the same general scan will normally be done. Uncirculated coins are usually separated out as are nicely toned coins, these are sometimes further checked for die varieties.

For Washington quarters, rare dates include the 1932-D and 1932-S, there are several nice doubled dies found in the 1930s and early 1940s, and two over mint marks found in 1950. Generally, silver coins for these series are scanned through, unless a date is found that has a higher probability of a die variety.

Most collectors want to be able to quickly determine what their silver coins are worth. If a general reference book is used, it will most likely be out of date as the price of silver can change drastically in a short period of time. It is better to use a resource that can provide real time prices. On either google or yahoo, if you type in "silver value," you will get web sites such as These sites will provide live, up to date prices for silver and gold.

The price of silver and gold is normally provided by weight in "Troy Ounces," which is a unit of measurement normally used for precious metals. The normal general system we use in the U.S. for weight is also known as the avoirdupois system.

There are 12 troy ounces in a troy pound as compared to 16 ounces in a U.S. pound. A troy ounce weighs more than a U.S. ounce. There is 480 grains in one troy ounce as compared to 437-1/2 grains for a U.S. ounce. This means that the U.S. ounce is .91% of the weight of a troy ounce. A troy pound weighs less than a U.S. pound. There are 5,760 grains is a troy pound as compared to 7,000 grains in a U.S. pound. This means that a troy pound is .82% of the weight of a U.S. pound.

Therefore, if given the value of one troy ounce, multiple this value by .91 to convert it to U.S. ounces. Then multiple this by .90 if the silver content is 90% or by .40 is the silver content is 40%. Luckily, most of these sites provide the bullion value of the silver for each different gold and silver series.

Previous: Looking for Rare Dates
Next: Modern Proof Sets
Copyright 2015 by Kevin Flynn, All Rights Reserved

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