US Coinage containing 90% silver minted before 1965 is commonly known as “junk” silver. Any dimes, quarters, or half dollars made 1964 and prior fall into the category of 90% silver coinage, with anything made 1965 and and after being worth only the face value with the exception of half dollars. Half dollars made from 1965-1970 have only 40% silver. These coins are far from what one might think of as junk, and have great utility as alternative currency. There are pros and cons to buying 90% silver coinage, and it all depends on your personal reasons for investing in silver.
- Most inexpensive way to buy silver. Because the coinage is only 90% silver, the calculations used are based on that percentage whereas a one ounce silver coin is more expensive due to a higher amount of silver and higher premiums charged by the mint to create the coins.
- Smaller denominations. 90% silver coinage is excellent for those who are expecting a financial collapse of the dollar and are looking to use silver as a currency. With smaller denominations of quarters and dimes, these coins are great for barter because it is easier to make change or buy products more directly. For example in a post-federal reserve note world, if you wanted to buy some eggs from a local farmer, it would make more sense to use dimes instead of trying to break a one ounce coin into a bunch of tiny pieces.
- Recognition. Because these coins were created by the US Mint, they are instantly recognizable as currency and therefore people are more trusting and willing to accept them in transactions. The date of the coin will validate the coin is silver (1964 and prior).
- Appearance. These coins are called junk silver because they are not deemed collectible pieces. If you are looking for a nice gift for someone, giving them a bunch of beat up quarters may not be the best idea. There are some that have not been widely circulated and look nicer, especially if they are proofs, but for the most part these coins look like regular coins we use today because that’s what they used to be.
- Storage. 90% silver coinage takes up more space than for instance a silver bar for the same amount of ounces. It is easier to store a 100 oz bar rather than 100 ounces of quarters.
- Purity. 90% silver coinage has only 90% silver in it, so for those who like purer forms of silver, a Silver American Eagle or Canadian Maple Leaf would be a better choice.
This article by Roberts and Roberts President Tim Frey can help elucidate on the topic of buying silver:
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