Silver Coin Values Shocking As Silver Prices Hit Highs

by Mike Unser on April 21, 2011 · 7 comments

Old Silver CoinsAs silver prices continue to push for new 31-year highs and strive for an all-time record, silver coin values have blasted off for common coins once worth just 5, 10, 25 or 50 cents.

It is difficult to imagine that a 50-cent piece with mintages in the tens of millions is worth nearly $17, or that a worn out nickel is valued at more than $2.50. But they are, thanks to silver prices that have jumped 172 percent since the end of 2009.

Coins with 90 percent silver include dimes, quarters and half dollars that were minted before 1965. These are now worth an amazing amount of money today. For example, a Kennedy half dollar was exchanged at face value in 1964. Its melt value now is $16.73, based on the London fix price of silver Thursday at $46.26 an ounce.

Prizes are available even for collectors who bought the numismatic versions of the Eisenhower dollar which were minted in 40 percent silver between 1971 and 1976. Their values as a collector piece did not pan out for most as general interest in the coins waned, but today they are worth $14.62, far more than what the United States Mint charged its customers at the time.

The following table provides coin melt values for several coins based on the silver price of $46.26 an ounce. To learn more about each coin, click on the provided links.

Melt Values of Older Silver Coins

Silver Coin Type Year of Issue Face Values Silver Coin Values
Jefferson Nickel 1942-1945 $0.05 $2.60
Mercury Dime 1916-1945 $0.10 $3.35
Roosevelt Dime 1946-1964 $0.10 $3.35
Washington Quarter 1932-1964 $0.25 $8.37
Walking Liberty 50c 1916-1947 $0.50 $16.73
Franklin Half Dollar 1948-1963 $0.50 $16.73
Kennedy Half Dollar 1964 $0.50 $16.73
Kennedy Half Dollar 1965-1970 $0.50 $6.84
Morgan Dollar 1878-1921 $1.00 $35.78
Peace Dollar 1921-1935 $1.00 $35.78
Eisenhower Dollar 1971-1976 $1.00 $14.62

 

There are a few important things to keep in mind when looking at coin melt values. First of all, the values are purely melt based. Older coins that have special interest to coin collectors can easily command exceptional high prices. Coins that do not — the vast majority of those from the dates above — are often referred to as "junk silver coins." Also, the above figures are based on the amount of silver in the coin when it was originally struck by the United States Mint. It does not take into account any wear and tear that a coin may have received during its life, which could result in a slightly lower silver content.

Modern Silver Coin Values

While few coin collectors would consider melting modern numismatic issues like commemorative coins, their melt values have soared as well. So much so that the United States Mint currently has its only four silver sets suspended, awaiting price adjustments to better match the new level of silver prices.

The best example of rising coin values is the 2010-dated America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof Set. The United States Mint issued the set on May 27 for a price of $32.95. Each of the five quarters are composed of 90 percent silver, giving them a total silver weight of 0.904 ounces. Its melt value on release day was $16.70. The set today has a melt value of $41.83. That is $8.88 more than the Mint’s initial price.

The following table shows how modern coin melt values have changed for United States Mint silver coins and sets between their issue date and Thursday.

Melt Values for Modern Silver Coins

Silver Coins or Set Issue
Date
Release
Prices
Melt Values
(Issue Date)
Melt Values
(April 21)
2011 Medal of Honor Uncirculated Feb. 25, 2011 $49.95 $25.45 $35.78
2011 Medal of Honor Proof Feb. 25, 2011 $54.95
2011 U.S. Army Uncirculated Jan. 31, 2011 $49.95 $21.79
2011 U.S. Army Proof Jan. 31, 2011 $54.95
2011 Silver Proof Set Jan. 25, 2011 $67.95 $35.88 $61.91
2011 American Silver Eagle Jan. 3, 2011 n/a $31.13 $46.26
2011 ATB Silver Quarters April 1, 2011 $41.95 $34.03 $41.83
2010 ATB Silver Quarters May 27, 2010 $32.95 $16.70 $41.83
2010 Silver Proof Set Aug. 26, 2010 $56.95 $25.40 $61.91
(1) 2010 ATB Silver Bullion Coin Dec. 10, 2010 n/a $143.95 $231.30
2010 Boy Scouts Uncirculated Mar. 23, 2010 $35.95 $12.95 $35.78
2010 Boy Scouts Proof Mar. 23, 2010 $43.95
2010 DAV Uncirculated Feb. 25, 2010 $35.95 $12.48
2010 DAV Proof Feb. 25, 2010 $43.95

 

These coins and sets are obviously not purchased to melt down. Their true values are mostly dictated by their numismatic worth. However, secondary market prices for them fluctuate when there are large precious metal price swings.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Vachon April 22, 2011 at 5:09 am

Yes, but what do dealers typically pay for these coins, especially the billon war nickels and halves? Most of us aren’t wheeling and dealing in selling our collections of silver on a daily or weekly basis. The dealers have to make a profit too so what is generally their take? I would hate to sell only to find that I would be considered to have been ripped off.

Bubba H April 22, 2011 at 11:12 am

If you know the melt values, you have a basis for value. Just because one dealer won’t pay as much doesn’t mean they ripped you off. Every dealer has different expenses. If you go to 10 different dealers and get quoted 10 different prices, you will have pretty good idea of what you can expect. You can try selling them on your own and pay the fees and see if expense and amount of work is worth the additional money if there is any. Metal prices can
go down. You aren’t getting ripped off if you willingly sell something at whatever price. If you don’t know the value of something don’t sell it.
The true value of something is the amount you can get for it when you want to sell it. It can be more or less than some established value. Go out on Ebay and look up prices, but that will take time. Prices will vary. Pay someone to appraise your coins who doesn’t have a vested interest in them.
Then try to sell them and find out no one can pay you that much. You should be able to get at least melt for coins that are somewhat desirable. Not everyone buys into the collectible idea. To some, it is all only precious metals. Go out to Kitco and see what they pay for precious metal, but keep in mind that they only buy from businesses. If you get ripped off when you sell something it is your own fault. You can always say no if someone makes an offer. A good dealer will only pay what they have to for something. If you get a good deal on something for sale did you rip someone off? If you know something is worth $1000 and they offer it to you for $50, it is probably
not very cool to offer less. If you offered them more, they would probably
not sell to you thinking it is worth a lot more. If you are a paid appraiser and you knowingly appraise things low to try to buy them cheaper that is definitely wrong. If you are looking for a free appraisal, seller beware. I have sold coins that the dealer doubled the price and offered them for sale. Sellers can ask what they want and they can wait as long as they want to sell something. I could have raised my price double and waited, but I valued having the money now greater. There aren’t any laws saying what things are worth. It is all in the eye of the beholder.

Vachon April 23, 2011 at 5:22 am

I ask my question because I only have one dealer in my area and one other place that only opened to take advantage of the rising price of gold and silver. I don’t have the option of travelling around looking for a better deal. I’m just more curious for an average. I’m only talking junk silver and gold coins here, not genuinely collectible stuff. I just wonder what the Blue Book analogue is here. I remember making a sale of this nature in March 2008 when silver briefly spiked to about $21. The spike part being important. I know it rose quickly and descended quickly which affects these kinds of transactions unlike the current rise which has been slow and steady.

Officially, that would be 14.3x face at $20. I was offered 10x face for 90% coins, 4x face for 40% halves, and 5x face for the war nickels which is 70%, 67½%, and 22% respectively. In your opinion, is that about right or would that constitute a learning experience on my part?

I generally don’t like it when the Red Book price is the only one flashed in your face and since the point of this article was more about what the silver content of our old coins is worth, I thought the article would have done a better service showing likely realizable values in addition to their value on paper.

bubba H April 23, 2011 at 9:13 am

Locally there is a business that pays $31980 for $1000 of 90% silver.
They sell that same bag for $33450. Look up Affordable Jewelry and Precious Metals in Portland, OR. They advertise buy and sell prices. Call them if you want to sell. They are fair. The thing about is that any business you sell to can make that phone call and sell to them. So, if they won’t give you close to that amount, you are losing money. You would have to pay shipping. Their prices fluctuate with the silver price. They operate on margin between buying and selling.

bubba H April 23, 2011 at 9:15 am

There are businesses who feel that it is their duty to seperate you from your money.

Vachon April 25, 2011 at 8:22 am

Thank you for your advice.

Evie May 16, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I currently have 3 mercury dimes 1917, 1 that us in optimal mint condition. I also have 4 liberty 1917, 2 in mint condition and 3 JFK half dollars 1964 all in mint condition. An ex coworker offered me $80. for the whole lot, but I at the time thought to keep them for my daughter to start her own collection. Now times have been super hard for us, since due to a disability I can no longer work, and my daughters birthday is next month. I called my ex coworker to sell them to her, but after reading all the information above I clearly see that I do not have the knowledge to sell these coins at a reasonable price. What would you recommend as a reasonable price bubba H? It does appear to me that you are very knowledgeable in this matter. Any assistance from you would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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