What is “Constitutional Silver”?

Discussion in 'Bullion Investing' started by Gam3rBlake, Jan 16, 2021.

  1. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    So here is the thing.

    I was watching a CoinHelpU video and Daniel mentioned that “people come in and they don’t want Roosevelt dimes or Washington quarters. They want “constitutional silver”. They want Walking Liberty Halves and Mercury Dimes.

    But if you’re buying these for the silver what’s the difference between a 1946 Roosevelt Dime and a Mercury Dime?

    They’re both 90% silver and the same size.

    Same with 1964 JFK 90% silver Half Dollars and Walking Liberty 90% silver Half Dollars.

    Can someone please explain this phenomenon?
    capthank and SensibleSal66 like this.
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  3. paddyman98

    paddyman98 Let me burst your bubble! Supporter

    Google is your friend -
    Constitutional silver
    Constitutional Silver is simply US currency, usually seen in dimes and quarters minted before 1965. Up until that point coins made for US currency still followed the Constitutional mandate and were minted containing 90% silver.

    Maybe you don't undertand their statement.. because they are all 90% silver..

    Now let me ask you.. What the heck is CoinHelpU and who the heck is Daniel? o_O
    capthank, Kentucky and SensibleSal66 like this.
  4. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    Hmmm... I've searched around a little bit, and it seems like "constitutional silver" is just a marketing term. I think they are preying on people's discomfort with fiat money, and suggesting that silver-based coinage is "constitutional" because of article 1, section 10 of the US constitution:

    "No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility."

    But the US hasn't been on a bimetallic standard since the Civil War. The US switched to a gold standard from bimetallic shortly after, in 1873. All the silver coinage since then wasn't based on a silver standard anyway, and was what economists call a token currency. (The silver aids acceptance by giving it some metallic value, but its value is established by stated face value, not metal content).

    There is no meaningful difference between silver Roosevelt dimes or Washington quarters and the previous types in metal value or legal tender status. My guess is that because those were the types which were later "debased" to copper-nickel composition, someone has managed to convince people that they are somehow less valid money than earlier types. There's a huge community of cranks, conspiracy theorists and irrational investors when it comes to hard vs fiat money, so it's good to take whatever you hear on the internet (even from me!) with a grain of salt.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
  5. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    CoinHelpU is a YT channel run by a coin shop owner & dealer named Daniel.
  6. Gam3rBlake

    Gam3rBlake Well-Known Member

    I understand the first part but I’ve noticed it in coin shops too.

    Like the owner/dealer will have tons of 90% silver Roosevelt dimes but totally out of stock on 90% silver Mercury dimes.

    Im just wondering why do people who buy them care which coin they get? Isn’t a 1950 Roosevelt dome basically the same as a Mercury Dime? Why are people picky in buying only certain kids?
    capthank likes this.
  7. The Eidolon

    The Eidolon Well-Known Member

    Well, it depends on if you're talking about junk silver. If there's no substantial premium for date and condition, then yes, they should be about equivalent in cost. If you buy a big bag of junk silver, you'll probably get a mix of both types. But there are tons of date/mint mark/condition combinations which sell for much more than metal value. As time goes on, some varieties which used to be available for metal cost may come to command a premium. It all depends on supply and demand. Perhaps fewer and fewer Mercury dates are available at silver cost, so Roosevelts will be what predominate as the stock gets picked over.
    capthank and Mkm5 like this.
  8. atcarroll

    atcarroll Well-Known Member

    A pre-1965 Roosevelt dime was minted with the same silver content as a mercury dime, yes. Some people are picky for reasons that only make sense to them.
    capthank and fretboard like this.
  9. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    It sounds like Daniel, your BoobTube dealer, heard or read the term being used, didn't really understand it but accepted it as the gospel, and so, passes it along to others making them think that he knows what he is talking about.
    fretboard likes this.
  10. JayAg47

    JayAg47 Well-Known Member

    To me both constitutional and junk silver are the same!
    Kentucky likes this.
  11. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    Yep, I agree! ;)
  12. masterswimmer

    masterswimmer Well-Known Member

    But it must be true, I heard it on the internet! :banghead:
    jamor1960 likes this.
  13. Chris11111952

    Chris11111952 Member

    Wow you people are just angry old coddgers that need a new hobby. Contempt prior to investigation. look at the web site he is quite informed. Oh and he admits when he's wrong
    YoloBagels likes this.
  14. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    I run across three terms; 90 percent, Constitutional, and Junk Silver.

    My interpretation is that Junk Silver is simply worn out, non-numismatic value silver often sold for melt, or held for stacking.

    The reason stackers prefer pre- Roosevelt and Washington, is for recognizability. Mercs and Walkers are immediately recognized as 90 percent, but the moderns can be either clad or 90 percent, so in SHTF, the old designs would be easier to barter with.

    Some stackers like the Roosevelt dimes for their fractional size so they stack those too.
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
    YoloBagels and The Eidolon like this.
  15. Mkm5

    Mkm5 Well-Known Member

    Oh, and Daniel from CoinHelpU is a great guy!
  16. CaptHenway

    CaptHenway Survivor

    Marketing b.s.
  17. Mr.Q

    Mr.Q Well-Known Member

    Very professional presentation Eidolon. Thanks for the education. Be safe
    The Eidolon likes this.
  18. Chris11111952

    Chris11111952 Member

    Yes fair pricing good quality coins and he will work with me when I want to do some back and forth on a price
  19. juris klavins

    juris klavins Well-Known Member

    Coin dealers probably sell more 'constitutional silver' at higher prices than 'junk silver' - sort of like 'pre-owned' vs. 'used' cars - MMMM (marketing makes more money) ;)
    capthank and Kentucky like this.
  20. Collecting Nut

    Collecting Nut Borderline Hoarder

    Constitutional Silver is a polite way to say Junk Silver.
  21. Randy Abercrombie

    Randy Abercrombie Supporter! Supporter

    It’s the way of things these days:
    • Janitors are now custodial stewards
    • Secretaries are administrative assistants
    • Snow storms are now nor’easters
    • Junk silver is Constitutional silver
    Same old thing. New sparkly wrapper.
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