Investors have long opted to buy junk silver as part of their bullion investment portfolio. Purchasing junk silver is one of the cheapest ways to acquire silver bullion, and bags of junk silver coins are so common that they can be found in nearly every local coin shop that sells bullion.
The Differences Between Different Types of Junk Silver Coins
Junk silver occupies a unique place in the world of precious metals bullion — similar to silver bullion coins and similar to silver bullion rounds. Unlike silver bullion coins (like American Silver Eagles), junk silver trades much closer to the current silver spot price. Sometimes, investors can even find a silver dealer that is selling junk silver at or below the melt value of the silver.
There are many options available for those looking to buy junk silver online. Not all, however, are the same. Most common are US pre-1964 90% silver coins. Dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and silver dollar coins from this era were struck from an alloy of 90% silver and 10% copper. Kennedy half-dollars from 1965-1970 were silver clad with a copper core. These halves were 40% silver by weight. Less commonly-seen are US Jefferson war nickels, produced during World War 2 and 35% silver by weight.
The Finer Points of Buying Bags of Junk Silver Coins
Though silver is silver, subtle differences exists between the different types of junk silver coins. The advantage of purchasing Kennedy 40% silver half-dollars or 35% silver war nickels is cost — investors buy junk bags of these coins less-commonly than 90% silver coins. Less demand means, generally, lower prices. The disadvantage of buying silver war nickels or FV40 half-dollars is mainly that they are harder to sell. Refiners wont accept them (it is too expensive for them to separate the low-percentage silver from the other metals), and some silver bullion merchants won’t deal with them, either. Regardless of that disadvantage, the price savings that often apply still make war nickels and FV40 coinage a good investment.
FV90 (90% silver coinage) is easy to sell. Refiners often accept it for melting, and nearly every local coin shop buys and sells junk silver coins in this category. These junk silver coins are usually sold by face value (hence FV90 — Face Value 90% silver.) A $100 junk silver bag will contain 90% silver coins with a total face value of $100. However, each bag is not truly equal.
Which Silver Junk Coins Should I Purchase?
For starters, older silver coins generally show more wear, as they circulated longer. Silver is relatively hard metal, but, over time, heavy wear will erode some of the metal, reducing the overall silver content of the coin. Newer 90% silver coins (1955-1964) usually show much less wear and, therefore, contain slightly more silver.
The newer silver coin dates also have the advantage of being more common due to higher mintages. Numismatic value is always present with government-minted coins, even junk silver coins. Older coins are rarer and thus possess more numismatic value, which can push up prices slightly. Low-grade junk Roosevelt Dimes, Kennedy Halves, Franklin Halves, and Washington Quarters have much less numismatic value, meaning bags of junk silver coins from this group are truly the cheapest way to buy silver bullion, trading at or slightly above the current silver spot price.