While historically popular, recent periods of economic uncertainty in the United States has helped to again elevate interest in all types of precious metals, particularly gold and silver. Because gold is one of the most expensive metals to purchase, many of those who dabble in precious metals as a hobby choose to limit their investments to silver because of its more affordable cost. While silver is available in many forms, including ingots and bars, junk silver has become one of the most popular types of silver for the small collector.
What is junk silver?
Junk silver is a casual term for coins that contain at least 90% pure silver but have no collectible value due to wear and condition issues. In America, these coins are predominantly those that were minted prior to 1965, including the dollar, half-dollar, quarter-dollar, dime, and nickel. While coins continue to be minted that contain high percentages of silver, they are typically only minted as collector editions and not for general currency use, making them more prohibitively expensive to obtain and collect for hobby collectors. Junk silver coins can also be found in the currency of other nations as well, including coins from the United Kingdom and Canada.
Where can you find good sources of junk silver?
Collecting junk silver successfully can be done in several ways. If you have the funds to do so, it is possible to make bulk junk silver purchases directly from other collectors, usually at or near the current spot silver price. However, it is possible to obtain junk silver with less cost, if you are willing to spend some time sorting through modern coins to find the ones minted before 1965. Here are some ideas to help you find junk silver in this manner:
- monitor household pocket change - by examining all household pocket change each evening and sorting out any junk silver or collectible coins that might have been obtained during the day as purchases were made
- ask your local bank for miscellaneous junk silver coins - make a point of asking the teller or branch manager if they have any pre-1965 silver coins on hand each time you visit
- look for bulk coin buys - some banks offer bulk coins for sale that you can sort through in search of junk silver before wrapping and reselling the remainder of the coins - in most cases this offer will be for several hundred dollars worth of coins priced at face value, per coin
- ask cashiers when making transactions - whenever you make daily purchases at the grocery store, convenience store or restaurant, remember to ask the cashier if they have received any unique coins that you can purchase
- form alliances with businesses where coins are used - laundromats, vending machine route operators, and car wash businesses are three examples of businesses that might be willing to help you locate junk silver, either by sorting it themselves and selling the junk silver to you at spot price or weighing the unsorted coins and selling them to you at face value for you to sort through
How can you add additional value to a junk silver collecting hobby?
As you become adept in finding and acquiring junk silver, you will occasionally come into contact with coins that are in collectible condition and worth more than simple junk silver value. As a result, you need to be able to recognize potentially valuable coins. Using a coin grading service is an effective way to do this.
Coin grading services use a detailed grading scale to rate the condition of collectible coins ranging from poor condition - where the coin has been widely circulated and worn smooth - to uncirculated coins that have not been exposed to wear, allowing them to retain their original mint condition. In addition, coin grading services can help the junk silver collector watch for rare coins that may have some type of flaw that would make them even more valuable on the collectible coin market.