Junk silver: best buy

Discussion in 'Bullion Investing' started by myownprivy, Sep 28, 2019.

  1. FooFighter

    FooFighter Just a Knucklehead Coin Hunter

    That question about which wore better, or lost more, I was pondering that for a minute. "I tried to think, and nuttin happened".(I always hear Curly of the 3 stooges when I use that quote)
    It would make sense to me that even if the silver dime seemed more worn than the Franklin or Kennedy, you wouldnt be losing as much as you would from the much bigger 50c piece, if it was worn equally.
    Ok, had to get that out
    roygpa likes this.
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  3. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Metal wears off the surface of a coin, but the coin's weight is determined by its volume (and density, of course). Increase a coin's diameter by X, and its surface area goes up by X squared, but its weight goes up by X cubed. Smaller coins have more surface area proportional to their weight, so they lose a greater percentage of their weight for a given amount of wear.

    To make this concrete: a really slick Barber dime might have lost as much as half a gram of metal, or 20% of its weight. A really slick Barber half, with around three times as much surface area, might have lost as much as a gram and a half of metal -- but that's only 12% of its weight.

    So, a $500 bag of those slick Barber dimes would weigh 10kg, instead of the nominal 12.5kg. A $500 bag of the slick halves would weigh 11kg.

    Now, you'll only see this degree of weight loss on really slick examples, the kind where even the date is worn away. But the same principle applies for less-worn coins; I've weighed quite a few Barber dimes (and even some Mercury) that were down by 10%, but hardly any Barber halves that were down more than 5-6% or so.

    Here's a report from the Mint (1902) on "uncurrent coinage" that they melted for reuse. It's got detailed breakdowns by denomination and year, but here's the top-level summary:


    The old coins they recycled had lost, on average:

    Halves -- 3.9%
    Quarters -- 6.0%
    Dimes -- 6.9%
    20-cent pieces -- 2.2% (remember, these didn't circulate much)
    Half dimes -- 13.7% (the table says 1.37%, but that appears to be a typo)
    3-cent pieces -- these seem to have gained weight

    Here's a nice summary separated not only by denomination but by decade:


    The exact proportions vary, but in every case halves lost the lowest percentage weight, and dimes the highest.
  4. TheFinn

    TheFinn Well-Known Member

    Canadian 80% Ag. You can get it cheap, and every dollar face has 0.6 oz. ASW. Easy to calculate, regardless of denomination.
  5. FooFighter

    FooFighter Just a Knucklehead Coin Hunter

    My,,,,,,,,,,,,brain ,,,,,,,,,,is,,,,,,,oozing

    Thanks for that info jeffb.
    Two Dogs likes this.
  6. slackaction1

    slackaction1 Well-Known Member

    I have been schooled again... nice jeff… TY
    Two Dogs likes this.
  7. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Wish I could remember who first linked that resource here. Was it @Conder101?

    Edit: it was apparently, um, me. But @physics-fan3.14 named the report, which was the clue I needed to track it down in the first place. @Conder101 provided links to the final legislative word on weight tolerance (how much coin weight can vary when newly struck), and that was what I was thinking of.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
    Johndoe2000$, Two Dogs and FooFighter like this.
  8. zachary ethington

    zachary ethington New Member

    I really like the maple, looking to add some krugerands, I JUST knew gold was going to pop about a year ago, but wasn’t in the financial position to make a serious investment. Can only hope for spot 2,000 in two years I guess.
    Johndoe2000$ likes this.
  9. myownprivy

    myownprivy Well-Known Member

    Please read the thread everyone. This is about junk silver. Junk silver refers to circulated coins with silver in them, typically US coins pre1965 that are 90% silver, but may also include War Nickels and 40% halves.

    I really don't care about your preferences for government issued 999+ silver bullion. There are plenty of other threads (including some I have even started) about those topics.
    FooFighter likes this.
  10. slackaction1

    slackaction1 Well-Known Member

    Were so sorry PRIVY.. Like how you coached up the new member....nice delivery...JEEBUS H CRIST. you ever happy...??
    Johndoe2000$ and FooFighter like this.
  11. FooFighter

    FooFighter Just a Knucklehead Coin Hunter

    ActionBronson likes this.
  12. rte

    rte Well-Known Member

    That subject really Needs a poll.
    ActionBronson likes this.
  13. I enjoy all the silver coins minted in the Great U.S.
  14. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    Best buy for junk silver will depend on the circumstances in which you sell them.

    To me, not knowing when or why I would sell, I try to buy WL halves or mercury dimes. Why? Because they are pretty, and are most unlike anything people are used to seeing. If I get them for the same price, why not choose those who might have the better chance to have a collectible premium in the future? SL and Barbers for junk are usually very ugly and near slick, so I doubt they would be very desired for collectibles.

    Just my thoughts.
  15. Gilbert

    Gilbert Part time collector Supporter

    I would venture to guess that the vast majority of junk silver coins (that are bought/sold) are NOT melted. They are held because people know what they are. Wear is NOT a factor. Stack a roll of worn Mercury dimes next to a roll of mint state 1964 Roosevelt dimes and see the difference. The wear on the Mercury dimes is irrelevant because there is a numismatic premium with older coins.
  16. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Keep in mind, though, that the rims go first, so stack height isn't entirely proportional to stack weight.

    A stack of 40 worn SLQs might weigh 5-10% less than a stack of uncirculated 1964 Washingtons, but it'll be a good 20% shorter.

    So, if you're buying 1964 uncirculated stuff, try to pay by face value.

    If you're buying older circulated stuff, try to pay by weight (because a given face-value amount will weigh less than the new stuff).

    And if you're buying SLQs or slick Barbers, try to pay by the full-to-the-brim tube. ;) A full tube of worn SLQs will weigh more than either a tube of worn Washingtons or a tube of uncirculated/proof Washingtons.
    FooFighter, Two Dogs and longshot like this.
  17. longshot

    longshot Enthusiast Supporter

    Informative post, @-jeffB . I hazily knew this, but good to see it spelled out!
  18. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    For that matter, if you're looking for a compact numismatic silver stash, I guess slick Barbers or SLQs would fit the bill. I'm pretty sure I've got an SLQ tube with more than 50 coins in it.

    Although, based on final volume, I wonder if worn Morgan/Peace dollars wouldn't be the very best choice. (Besides worn Type II/III trimes, the 90% ones, which are surely the flattest US silver coins in existence...)
  19. medoraman

    medoraman Supporter! Supporter

    But silver dollars have never traded at melt. People have always been willing to pay more for them, but for stackers that is a problem if silver ounces the only goal.

    Regarding barbers, I am with you. I know I have 3 or 4 square tubes with like 55 or 57 in them. I bought them as a 50, and threw some more in later because they would fit.
    -jeffB and Two Dogs like this.
  20. myownprivy

    myownprivy Well-Known Member

    Double check the brand of the tube. I know some brands hold more than a full roll's worth. It really bothers me that tube sizes are not consistent across brands.
  21. -jeffB

    -jeffB Greshams LEO Supporter

    Guess I should calibrate each new brand of tube with Kennedys. :)
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