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Junk Silver Help: How Do I Calculate the Value of These Coins?

Posted by Dirk Watters on

For newer owners of precious metals, calculating the value of their "junk silver" holdings can be a bit challenging. We'll show you how to do the math on your ‘Junk Silver’ down to the gram.

Junk silver, as you know, is the nickname given to America's dimes, quarters, and half dollars minted before 1964. They're not "junk" at all. They contain 90% pure silver!

So how much is a silver dime worth if it's 90% silver?

Below are two methods to calculate the bullion, or melt value, of your junk silver (we're not discussing collector coins).

Method #1 to calculate the value of your junk silver: Grams to ounces.

The spot price for silver (and any precious metal) is measured in troy ounces.

One troy ounce is about 31.1 grams.

A Mercury or Roosevelt dime (minted between 1916 - 1945 and 1945 - 1964 respectively) contains 90% silver and weighs 2.5 grams.

Let's do some simple math for silver dimes:

Step 1:

2.5 grams / 31.1 grams = 0.08

A dime weighs about 8% of a troy ounce.

Step 2:

Multiply the current spot price to the dime's weight.

0.08 x $18 (example spot price) = $1.44

This is how much the dime would be worth in silver if it were 100% silver. However, it's only 90% silver, so…

Step 3:

Calculate what 90% is.

0.90 x $1.44 = $1.30

When the spot price is $18, a junk silver dime is worth about $1.30.

Repeat the steps above with current spot prices to get the value of your junk silver dime.

How About Silver Quarters and Half Dollars?

The steps to calculate your silver quarters and silver half dollars are identical. Just use the appropriate weights.

Silver Quarters:

Standing Liberty or Washington quarters, minted between 1916-1930 and 1932-1964 respectively, weigh 6.25 grams, or;

20% of a troy ounce of silver.


0.20 x $18 = $3.60

0.90 x $3.60 = $3.24

At an $18 spot price, the value of one silver quarter is $3.24.

Half Dollars:

Franklin or Kennedy half dollars, minted between 1948-1963 and only in 1964 respectively, weigh 12.5 grams.

40% of a troy ounce of silver.

You do the rest.

Method #2 to calculating the value of your junk silver: Ounces to dollar face value.

Keep in mind, silver dimes and quarters often carry a bit lower premium because more of them were minted. While half dollars receive slightly higher premiums because fewer were minted.

Each denomination contains 0.7234 ounces in pure silver for each dollar in face value.

In other words, ten silver dimes ($1) contain 0.7234 ounces of silver, and so do four silver quarters, and two silver half dollars. Each dollar face value is equal.

Note: You may find yourself in a situation where the figure used for silver ounces is slightly lower to allow for wear and tear because these coins circulated for decades.

At an $18 spot value, $1 in dimes, quarters, or half dollars would be worth about $13.02.

Here's how to calculate it:

$1 face value of junk silver = 0.7234 oz of silver

0.7234 x $18 = $13.02

Just do the math with current spot prices.

If you buy a $100 face value of junk silver, you're looking at about $1,302.12.

Use either method above to find the value of your junk silver. And keep in mind when buying from a dealer premiums will be included.

Take a look at junk silver coins and current prices here

Lastly, if you don't want to do the math for junk silver...

Buy pure silver coins in one ounce or in fractional sizes - tenth, quarter, or half ounces - check them out here


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