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Silver coins: A quick guide to buying, collecting and selling

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Silver coins have an allure, just like their gold, copper and bronze counterparts. But silver has a different splendor to it, being one of the most useful precious metals on the planet. It has the highest conductive property rating of any metal, making it a beautiful resource for devices and tools used to bring electrical services to consumers of every industry. Silver has also been revered as a precious metal for centuries and has been found in precious jewelry, coins, heirlooms and other keepsakes, often worth hundreds to hundreds of thousands.

Here’s a quick guide to the value of silver coins, buying them, what to search for when collecting them and how to sell them.

Silver coins

Pure silver is a soft metal on its own. It often needs to be combined with something else to make it more durable and easier to work with. Most silver coins seen in circulation are considered junk silver coins and don’t tend to hold much value beyond their face value. However, junk silver doesn’t mean they’re without value.

Junk silver refers to a coin in decent condition but is far from collectible condition. They still contain a fair amount of silver and are often sought after by silver investors to be melted down for their bullion value. Junk silver coins often carry the value of silver’s price per ounce, which means if the price of silver is high, the investment in the coins is going to increase. If silver takes a small dip, as is normal in most markets, the junk silver will follow the curve of silver’s price.

Conversely, there are coins known as silver bullion coins, which tend to be made of 99.9% pure silver and exist for the sole purpose of being investment pieces. These coins are often seen as hard to come by or only collector’s items. However, they are not as rare as some may believe. Bullion coins are easily bought from reputable online dealers or in-store at a local numismatist supplier. Some of these coins may also come as collectibles with beautiful minted artwork.

Buying coins

Silver coins come in a wide range of value amounts. Some may prefer silver dollars or half dollars made from junk silver, silver bullion (typically for collectors) or other silver alloys. When purchasing any type of silver coins you’re looking for. For example, are you looking to collect commemorative or decorative coins of bullion quality? Perhaps you’re just looking for junk silver coins to complete a collection started by a good friend, relative or your younger self. Regardless of the type of silver coin you’re looking for, ensure you find a reputable coin dealer to ensure you’re getting the best and most authentic coins available.

Collecting silver

Collecting old coins is a great way to connect with history, start a collection of interesting artistic pieces minted on silver dollars or start a treasure hunt for coins that satisfy just about any curiosity. However, all collectors should have a starting point and know a few key silver coin qualities to search for.

“90 silver” – this refers to coins containing 90% pure silver. Half dollars, dimes, quarters, silver dollars and other types of beautiful coins come as “90 silver” stock. These coins are also noted for being minted before 1965.

Junk silver – this refers to silver coins in fair condition. These coins aren’t usually considered collectible coins or of bullion quality, but do serve a purpose for investors or for those looking to secure old currency coins in circulation or that were in circulation.

Silver bullion coins – these coins have a high concentration of pure silver (typically 99.9%) and are considered investor coins. These are usually a great method for holding on to a nice piece of silver bullion without having to carry around bricks or secure bullion ETFs.

Collectible coins – these can come in various silver amounts. Most are 99.9% (.999) pure silver, bullion coins. These come with excellent artistic attributes, are made for the sole purpose of being a collector’s item and can later be sold, if the collector wants to sell their investment.

silver silver dollar united states silver dollar silver coin

Selling silver coins

When selling coins, make sure you go to a reputable coin dealer. They’ll be able to tell you what your coins are worth, give you a fair price and can aid in helping coin collectors grow their collection by suggesting other types of coins or mints of particular coins.

Many will examine old silver coins and determine the silver content, value and the next step in your numismatic journey. For example, if you bring in a bag of silver half dollars, you may find you accidentally brought a silver eagle with a bunch of junk silver pieces. While the junk silver in the collection may only be worth face value at the time, you could find yourself with a $30 silver eagle or one ranking among the thousands.

Coin collecting, investing in silver or simply picking up a few pieces as “nice to have” pieces for decor or conversation are great reasons to do deeper dives into coins. They hold a multitude of curious stories, investment values and can bring you closer to incredible journeys through time. So the next time you find a silver half dollar, be sure to tuck it away, get it appraised and add it to your coin collection.

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