Silver Coin Melt Value: What Your Silver Coin is Really Worth (2020 Update)
Since 1792, the U.S. Mint has produced silver coinage. However, since the 1960s, high-purity silver coins have become increasingly rare and are now only minted for commemorative purposes.
If you’re the lucky owner of a genuine silver coin, you can bet that it’s worth more than its face value. At the time of writing, the most common silver coins range in value between $2.03 and over $28. The value of your silver coin varies according to the condition of the piece, as well as the market value of the metal.
In this article, I’ll touch on the basics of investing in silver coinage and will walk you through the process of finding your silver coin melt value. This way, you can liquidate your silver assets with confidence knowing that you won’t get short-changed for your coins.
History of Silver Coinage
Shortly after the establishment of the U.S. Mint, the United States Government started issuing silver coins in the form of half dimes, half dollars, and dollars. In 1796, the Mint introduced the silver quarter and dime. Since then, silver coins have entered circulation in various forms and have undergone many designs, and each features distinctive numismatic elements that are desirable to collectors and enthusiasts.
In 1964, the U.S. Mint halted all production of silver coinage with the exception of commemorative items “Not Issued for Circulation” (NIFC). These modern coins are produced for the collectors’ aftermarket and are not intended to be used as everyday money.
The change came about because post-war industrial society recognized the need to preserve silver for its widespread use in manufacturing and to prevent hoarding from investors. Consequently, dimes and nickels switched to a copper and nickel alloy.
Some of the rarest silver coinage from the United States includes the following pieces:
- Mercury dime (1916-1945) (“D, S, W.” hallmarks)
- Standing Liberty quarter (1916-1930) (“D, S.” hallmarks)
- Barber half dollar (1892-1915) (“D, O, S.” hallmarks)
- Peace dollar (1921-1935), (“D, S.” hallmark)
- Morgan dollar (1878-1904) (“CC, S, O, D” hallmarks)
Benefits of Investing in Silver Coins
Silver coins share many of the same benefits as investing in physical silver bullion. Below, I’ve listed some of the main reasons why you should consider acquiring commemorative silver coins as part of a diversified investment portfolio.
- Reliable store of value: Silver can be used as money and historically retains its value during times of economic downturn or financial crisis.
- Tangible, secure asset: Silver is a tangible, physical asset that you can store in your own home and cannot be printed on-demand like fiat currency.
- No counterparty risk: There is no trusted third-party with silver coinage, since you are the owner and curator of the asset.
- Liquid asset: Silver is an in-demand asset that can be bought or sold virtually anywhere in the world.
- Private and immutable: As a physical asset, silver can be kept private and out of the reach of banks and other third-parties. Similarly, your silver cannot be hacked or compromised via digital means.
Whether you invest in silver bullion, paper-backed silver (e.g., ETFs and silver mining stocks), or silver coins, the benefits are largely the same. Adding silver to your precious metals IRA or 401(k) retirement savings account can help diversify your portfolio and insulate your wealth from market risk and other systemic risks.
Plus, silver retains its value during recessions and other periods of economic turmoil. The chart below depicts how silver and gold performed well during the 2007-2009 global financial crisis.
Source: Suisse Gold
How to Calculate Silver Melt Value
Calculating your silver coin’s melt value is a simple two-step process. First, use our up-to-the-hour chart to find the current spot price of silver. Then, multiple the spot price of silver by the weight of pure silver in your coin. To find the weight of the silver in your coin, multiply the weight of the coin overall by the total percentage of silver found in the coin.
For instance, a Roosevelt Dime from 1946 weighs 2.5 grams and contains 90% silver. Therefore, 2.5 multiplied by .90 gives us a sum of 2.25 grams of pure silver, which is worth $2.07 USD at the current spot price as of September 2020.
Keep in mind that a coin’s melt value considers the economic value of the metal only. Many collectors’ coins are worth more than their melt value because they are antiques that carry nostalgic or sentimental value. For instance, a 1932 Washington Quarter often sells for more than $200 despite having a melt value of only a few dollars. What’s more, the 1916-D Mercury Dime sometimes sells above $1,000 if kept in good condition.
You can use silver melt value calculators to find the exact value of the material found in your silver coin. However, it may be in your interest to hang onto your silver coinage as its value as a collectors’ item may exceed its value in metal.
The Bottom Line
Silver coin melt value has no correlation to its face value. Depending on the current spot price of silver, a U.S.-minted silver coin can have a melt value of $30 or more.
The most reliable way of calculating your silver coin melt value is to find the silver content of your coin measured in troy ounces and multiply the figure by the current spot price of silver. Investors looking to get the most out of their silver investment, however, are better off selling their coins to collectors after it appreciates in value as an antique.
If you want to add silver to your retirement savings account, note that only select IRS-approved metals and coins are eligible for inclusion. Check out this list of IRA silver bullion and coinage to see whether your silver coins can grow your wealth in a tax-advantaged account.
The information provided here is not investment, tax or financial advice. You should consult with a licensed professional for advice concerning your specific situation.