4 Pros and Cons of Buying Junk Silver Coins

4 Pros and Cons of Buying Junk Silver Coins

Junk silver coins are what many coin collectors and bullion investors buy when silver prices start getting jumpy. This has been happening as of late with silver bullion values fluctuating between $13.85 and $15.50 per ounce, though historically this has occurred many times, during which coin buyers hoard pre-1965 90 percent silver coins when metals prices either decrease or increase to a substantial degree. In 1980, for example, millions upon millions of common silver dimes, quarters, half dollars, and dollar coins were melted when the price of that bullion metal reached nearly $50 per ounce. The same thing happened again in 2011, with countless silver coins heading for the smelter as the price of silver nearly touched the important $50 mark.

But why are junk silver coins so popular among bullion investors, and are they any better than American Silver Eagle coins, silver ingots, silver rounds, or other stores of precious metal? Here's a look at four pros and four cons of buying junk silver coins:


  1. Junk silver coins are affordable – They can be bought in varying fractional amounts, with the 35% silver Jefferson wartime five-cent coin and 90% silver Roosevelt dime among the cheapest silver coins, regardless of the bullion market.
  2. Some junk silver coins have added numismatic value – Barber coins, Mercury dimes, Standing Liberty quarters, Walking Liberty half dollars, and Franklin half dollars are just some of the common silver coins that are actively pursued by collectors, ensuring a strong secondary market no matter the state of bullion.
  3. You can spend junk silver coins in circulation – If worse comes to worst, you can spend your junk silver coins on food, gas, or whatever else you need to buy during an emergency.
  4. Junk silver coins are easy to liquidate – Common silver coins are easily recognizable among collectors and non-collectors, and thus you'll have no problem finding people willing to accept your coins when you decide to sell, trade, or spend them.


  1. Premiums on junk silver coins are often more than they are for bullion coins – You will spend more per troy ounce to buy junk silver coins than pieces such as American Silver Eagles, rounds, and ingots. In fact, junk silver coins have among the highest premiums above spot value of all widely traded silver bullion products.
  2. It takes a lot of room to store junk silver coins – It's rather difficult to store thousands of dimes, quarters, or half dollars, and these coins can take up a lot of valuable space in a safe, vault, or bank deposit box.
  3. Junk silver coins aren't pure silver – Most regular-issue silver coinage is, at most, 90 percent silver. The rest of the metal content is normally made from copper, which helps the metal strike up properly in the coin production process. Junk silver coinage of the 90 percent silver, 10 percent copper variety contains what is widely known as "coin silver."
  4. Junk silver coins can't be saved in an IRA program – Unlike American Silver Eagles and many other bullion coins from around the world, junk silver coins are not accepted in tax-sheltering Individual Retirement Accounts.

So there you have it – four pros for buying junk silver coins and four cons against investing in junk silver coins. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide whether or not junk silver coins are the right investment for you.

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