On Junk Silver or Silver Coins or Bullion Coins and Bartering

dimes_smlI’m trying to get this all figured out, it’s kind of confusing! Junk Silver, Silver Coins, Bullion Coins, Pre-1965 Coins – it turns out they all pretty much mean the same thing! Hard-Core TEOTWAWKI Preppers know that pre-1965 silver coins are made up of actual silver and have good potential barter power. That bartering capability comes from the fact that the U.S. Mint has guaranteed the amount of silver in these coins so they have a known value. Bullion Coins are generally considered the easiest way to have known values of precious metals – hence their potential barter usage. So far this is fairly common knowledge, but there is a lot more to know in order to do this properly – and I’m trying to get it all figured out.

This post is a learning post – I’m no expert in this area at all – I’m merely sharing knowledge as I gain it. The purpose here is for us to help each other out – if I’m wrong in something I say, please correct me in the comments! If you know about this area and can provide useful further info including knowledge, tips, websites, etc – please do! And if you’re just now reading this, please check the comments and consider them an extension of this post.

Now that that is out of the way, on to the discussion. I’ve been wanting to know more about this and recently have started researching it – I made my first purchase of Junk Silver at the Crossroads of the West Gunshow in Salt Lake on Saturday (Jan 11, 2009). It was a little thrilling because I really wasn’t sure if I was getting ripped off or not, but I wanted to get started on caching coins. I only bought $11.00 worth so it was a cheap, potential throw-away, experience. Turns out it wasn’t a bad deal. Let’s get into what I’ve learned about how this works.

According to Lynn Coins Junk Silver is organized into $1.00 values based on the face value of the coins. This means you can mix and match quarters, dimes, nickels, half dollars and dollars into batches. Each $1.00 face value batch of coins should have approximately 71% of a Troy Ounce of Silver in it.

From Wikipedia:

The most commonly collected U.S. junk silver pieces are Mercury and Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarters, and Franklin and Kennedy half dollars, minted in or before 1964. These coins have a 90% silver composition (“coin silver“), and when minted contained 0.7234 troy ounces of silver per dollar of face value. In practice, the content is usually assumed to be 0.715 ounces because of wear. Less common as junk silver are Kennedy half dollars from 1965 to 1970, which contained 40% silver. Peace Dollars may also be collected for their silver value, but are also less common.

Canadian dimes and quarters contained 80% silver (0.600 troy ounces per dollar of face value) until 1966. In 1967, they were minted in both 80% and 50% varieties. In 1968 they either contained 50% silver, or none at all (Cupro-Nickel). Dollars and half dollars were minted in 80% silver until 1967.

From this we learn the next critical part to gathering Junk Silver – PRE-1965 coins must be used in most cases. Starting in 1965, the US quit using Silver and switched to a fiat currency.

So, as we’re gathering pre-1965 silver coins (how stinking hard is that going to be if you’re going through your pocket change?), how do we know what they’re currently worth? Coinflation.com provides us with a chart that shows the current silver value of different US coins based on their silver composition. That makes it easy. We can also look at live market rates for Silver on kitco.com – as of this writing, the Spot Price of Silver was at $11.25.

As I mentioned above, Junk Silver is not something you’re going to just find in the change you get at the gas station – at least not very often. For the most part you have to go to a coin dealer/trader in order to get accumulated quantities of Junk Silver. Here’s a quick list of Coin Dealers in Utah.

Supply and Demand of course plays a part in all this – every prepper that’s thinking about this topic is looking for Junk Silver to grab – and there’s a finite amount of them available. So, when you go to purchase your Junk Silver, keep in mind that the dealer is providing a valuable service – sorting, buying and collecting the pre-1965 Silver Coins and then providing you with a resource that has a limited quantity and a real value behind it. In other words, you’re going to pay more than the silver is worth on the market.

Here’s what I’ve learned about values in the Junk Silver Market – as of this writing, you should expect to pay about $11.00 per $1.00 face value of coins – this amounts to .7 Troy Ounces of silver – the current Spot Price of Silver is $11.25 per ounce. So, you should expect to pay about 30% or so markup on the actual spot price of silver – this is commonly referred to as the Price Over Spot.

Availability is definitely an issue right now, Junk Silver is HARD to find locally, especially in large quantities. Apparently it’s common for dealers to buy $1,000.00 face value bags of coins, but that costs a LOT of money. If you can’t find any at your local coin shop, Lynn Coin and probably several others will sell it to you in smaller bulk quantities. I’ve never dealt with them and cannot and am not recommending them. For bulk purchases, the fantastic SurvivalBlog.com recommends and endorses The Tulving Company.

SurvivalBlog.com also provides the following insight:

BTW, the quick way to gauge the value of a $1,000 bag versus the spot price of silver on any given day is simply to multiply the spot price by 715. Thus, at yesterday’s spot silver price of $13.85 per ounce, your $1,000 bag of dimes is worth $9,902.75. (Or just think of it as 9.9 times face value.)

tol_coin_smlThere are also other ways to buy silver but we aren’t going to go into that much. I will however mention that I love these LDS based 1 Troy Ounce silver coins that have a picture of Captain Moroni on the front and The Title of Liberty of the back. I won’t mention how many of them I own :)

Do you have any further insights, corrections, or good sites you can recommend about Junk Silver? If so, please let us know in the comments!

37 Replies to “On Junk Silver or Silver Coins or Bullion Coins and Bartering”

  1. I recommend Rust Coin for specie purchases. They’ve got one shop in downtown SLC and one in Provo. I have bought all of my money (yes, real money) from them, and have found them knowledgeable and friendly.

    Your information is good, and junk silver is definitely an important part of saving your hard-earned cash for a long-term scenario. One of the main downsides to junk silver, though, is the lack of common knowledge about its value. If you take a quarter and try to use it in a TEOTWAWKI barter scenario, your ability to use it depends entirely upon the other person’s knowledge of and confidence in its value.

    I might argue, though, that this knowledge will spread quickly if we are all looking for a more stable monetary unit (e.g. if the dollar collapses), but I believe that it’s safe to spread yourself out in order to avoid situations such as this. For that reason I recommend that people get junk silver, silver 1 oz. rounds, gold, etc., all to have varying options of what they can use when the time comes to use it.

    Oh, and keep your junk silver away from your kids. When I was growing up I found my dad’s stash of junk silver and (back in my klepto days as a young teenager) spent a good chunk of it (for face value – oy!) on school lunches. Whoops.

  2. I recommend Rust Coin for specie purchases. They’ve got one shop in downtown SLC and one in Provo. I have bought all of my money (yes, real money) from them, and have found them knowledgeable and friendly.

    Your information is good, and junk silver is definitely an important part of saving your hard-earned cash for a long-term scenario. One of the main downsides to junk silver, though, is the lack of common knowledge about its value. If you take a quarter and try to use it in a TEOTWAWKI barter scenario, your ability to use it depends entirely upon the other person’s knowledge of and confidence in its value.

    I might argue, though, that this knowledge will spread quickly if we are all looking for a more stable monetary unit (e.g. if the dollar collapses), but I believe that it’s safe to spread yourself out in order to avoid situations such as this. For that reason I recommend that people get junk silver, silver 1 oz. rounds, gold, etc., all to have varying options of what they can use when the time comes to use it.

    Oh, and keep your junk silver away from your kids. When I was growing up I found my dad’s stash of junk silver and (back in my klepto days as a young teenager) spent a good chunk of it (for face value – oy!) on school lunches. Whoops.

  3. My grandmother was a grocery store clerk for most of her life. When I was around 12 or so, she sent me a big box of pre 65 coins for Christmas that she had collected over the years while making change for people. I knew their value and put them in my dresser drawer for safe keeping. A few years later, I opened up the box and it was nearly empty. My younger sister had been helping herself to the contents a little at a time to buy herself candy.

  4. My grandmother was a grocery store clerk for most of her life. When I was around 12 or so, she sent me a big box of pre 65 coins for Christmas that she had collected over the years while making change for people. I knew their value and put them in my dresser drawer for safe keeping. A few years later, I opened up the box and it was nearly empty. My younger sister had been helping herself to the contents a little at a time to buy herself candy.

  5. Having somewhat recently gotten into precious metals I have had to stumble through most of the stuff you laid out in this article. I have ended up with a combination of 90% silver and 99% rounds/bars. I buy whatever can be found at the most reasonable prices. I had a good thing going with a coin shop where I used to live, buying small quantities (single rolls) for 10X spot.

    Where I live now the local place sells it for 12X. I have been buying stuff online here. Finding smaller quantities online has been difficult so I’ve been buying silver rounds. May pick up some more dimes though.

  6. Having somewhat recently gotten into precious metals I have had to stumble through most of the stuff you laid out in this article. I have ended up with a combination of 90% silver and 99% rounds/bars. I buy whatever can be found at the most reasonable prices. I had a good thing going with a coin shop where I used to live, buying small quantities (single rolls) for 10X spot.

    Where I live now the local place sells it for 12X. I have been buying stuff online here. Finding smaller quantities online has been difficult so I’ve been buying silver rounds. May pick up some more dimes though.

  7. My husband and I are just looking into buying/investing in silver.gold. Do you know hwere the best place is to just by silver or gold rounds? Not “junk silver?” Also, where did you get those mornoi coins? :)

    1. Laura, I am connected to a Silver Mint in Utah, and can get you connected to the owners of the mint, and the best prices in Utah. Almost every coin shop charges ‘spot price’ plus $2-5 fee per coin. Some even charge more than spot plus a fee. I can get you Silver for spot price plus only $1.75 per coin minting fee. I can get you full one ounce silver rounds, half ounce rounds and 1/10 ounce rounds.

      Many people only have 1 ounce rounds, but if one day Silver is worth $100 or $500, how will we trade that for a loaf of bread or milk? How will anyone be able to make change? I believe in having One ounce rounds also, but we also need 1/10 ounce rounds to be able to purchase items for less than $100-$500 at a time, so consider those as well. 

      Mark 801-420-1900

  8. My husband and I are just looking into buying/investing in silver.gold. Do you know hwere the best place is to just by silver or gold rounds? Not “junk silver?” Also, where did you get those mornoi coins? :)

  9. Nickels are not included in junk silver,
    only dimes, quarters, half dollar, and dollar coins.
    The reason is simple: they were not 90% silver.

    The best place to buy gold and silver is a local coin dealer that you trust. It is a good place to hang our and meet other goldbugs and silverbugs. Compare prices, not just when you buy, but also when you sell. Becoming an expert yourself is the best way not to get ripped off.

  10. Nickels are not included in junk silver,
    only dimes, quarters, half dollar, and dollar coins.
    The reason is simple: they were not 90% silver.

    The best place to buy gold and silver is a local coin dealer that you trust. It is a good place to hang our and meet other goldbugs and silverbugs. Compare prices, not just when you buy, but also when you sell. Becoming an expert yourself is the best way not to get ripped off.

  11. JUNK SILVER IS USELESS FOR A SHTF SCENARIO!

    If you disagree with my statement above, do me a favor. Borrow $5 in fiat currency from some sheeple you know. Then pay them back with a few dimes, quarters etc., in pre-1965 coins and watch their face as they get pissed! Then try to do the same thing while buying $5 worth of stuff at the neighborhood 7-11 store and see how far that gets your with Sanjay the owner. In the mind of sheeple, there is NO DIFFERENCE between post and pre-1965 money. If you’re not dealing with an informed survivalist or a numismatist you will NEVER CONVINCE them that your shiny pocket change is better than their shiny pocket change no way no how. Not to mention, the average American idiot couldn’t solve a math equation to determine silver content in 40% or 90% coins to save their idiotic lives. Besides, is a SHTF scenario really the time to conduct math classes with your uninformed trading partners. Heck, you might even get shot for your troubles when they think you’re trying to cheat them with your extra- special shiny dimes and quarters…and the last thing you’ll see will be all your lovely 90% and 40% coins getting kicked into the gutter while they check your pockets for something really valuable.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a soft spot in my heart (and in my head) for silver. I have 500 American Silver Eagles which I bought as a hedge investment and in case of a hyperinflationary situation without major political or socioeconomic collapse (non-SHTF in other words). Should hyper inflation kick-in my plan is to go to the local coin shop and exchange a few coins for some paper money to buy groceries immediately before they become even more devalued. Of course, the Silver Eagle has the words “One Ounce Fine Silver .999” on it so it has more street cred immediately, but the coin shop owner won’t need me to explain to him why they’re worth more than the $1 face amount anyway. Junk silver has value in this hyperinflationary non-SHTF case as well. However, in a SHTF scenario Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs will kick in ASAP. People will be looking for shelter, food, medicine, ammo, clothing, liquor, sex etc. Shiny metal will probably only get you killed in your sleep by someone who doesn’t see the benefits of trading perfectly good food for your precious shiny metals like silver or gold. Most especially if the shiny Junk metals look exactly like (to their uneducated eye) as the jingling crap in their own threadbare pants. To paraphrase an old anti-drug slogan, “There’s a reason they call it JUNK!”

    1.  boy do i agree……i advise my gold bug friends to buy lead instead, with a reliable delivery system. however, if you read about hoarding in the civil war. or bribing boarder guards in the 2 nd, you can get the impression that ordinary people can learn fast, and become quite discerning. i guess you can get killed in your sleep for barterable items as well as metal, but the metal is easier to hide and carry. this is all for the here and now, anyway, so  peace of mind is what you are buying, and clever is what you think you are. we all want to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.

    2. You buy junk silver as a tie over until some other form of currency replaces the dollar. The transition could be short or long, quick or slow. If the internet stays up, it should be shorter than if it goes down. If the onset of chaos is quick because the dollar collapses or is destroyed then you can bet that the learning curve about silver coins will be straight up. One ounce silver coins (Eagles and Rounds) are being counterfitted from China as we speak and will worsen no doubt if things go sideways, so people could become wary of them and not except them. With junk silver on the other hand, each piece is relative unique and easy to spot nor are they worth the effort to counterfit. People are used to common quarters and dimes already and there will always be enterprising silver brokers that will exchange silver for whatever currency is in play at the time. Junk silver is easy to hide and desparate people and impromptu local governments will be looking to confiscate food, medicine and ammunition for the good of the community, long before they try to seek out silver horders. Just some thoughts.

  12. JUNK SILVER IS USELESS FOR A SHTF SCENARIO!

    If you disagree with my statement above, do me a favor. Borrow $5 in fiat currency from some sheeple you know. Then pay them back with a few dimes, quarters etc., in pre-1965 coins and watch their face as they get pissed! Then try to do the same thing while buying $5 worth of stuff at the neighborhood 7-11 store and see how far that gets your with Sanjay the owner. In the mind of sheeple, there is NO DIFFERENCE between post and pre-1965 money. If you’re not dealing with an informed survivalist or a numismatist you will NEVER CONVINCE them that your shiny pocket change is better than their shiny pocket change no way no how. Not to mention, the average American idiot couldn’t solve a math equation to determine silver content in 40% or 90% coins to save their idiotic lives. Besides, is a SHTF scenario really the time to conduct math classes with your uninformed trading partners. Heck, you might even get shot for your troubles when they think you’re trying to cheat them with your extra- special shiny dimes and quarters…and the last thing you’ll see will be all your lovely 90% and 40% coins getting kicked into the gutter while they check your pockets for something really valuable.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I have a soft spot in my heart (and in my head) for silver. I have 500 American Silver Eagles which I bought as a hedge investment and in case of a hyperinflationary situation without major political or socioeconomic collapse (non-SHTF in other words). Should hyper inflation kick-in my plan is to go to the local coin shop and exchange a few coins for some paper money to buy groceries immediately before they become even more devalued. Of course, the Silver Eagle has the words “One Ounce Fine Silver .999” on it so it has more street cred immediately, but the coin shop owner won’t need me to explain to him why they’re worth more than the $1 face amount anyway. Junk silver has value in this hyperinflationary non-SHTF case as well. However, in a SHTF scenario Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs will kick in ASAP. People will be looking for shelter, food, medicine, ammo, clothing, liquor, sex etc. Shiny metal will probably only get you killed in your sleep by someone who doesn’t see the benefits of trading perfectly good food for your precious shiny metals like silver or gold. Most especially if the shiny Junk metals look exactly like (to their uneducated eye) as the jingling crap in their own threadbare pants. To paraphrase an old anti-drug slogan, “There’s a reason they call it JUNK!”

  13. To avoid paying premiums, I want to get rounds and bars marked by reputable refiners such as englehart or however you spell it. Then people will know that it is real silver and what it is worth (whatever an ounce is valued at). What are some of your thoughts on this plan and what are the maker’s names to look for on the one ounce pieces that will serve this purpose, if you know.

  14. To avoid paying premiums, I want to get rounds and bars marked by reputable refiners such as englehart or however you spell it. Then people will know that it is real silver and what it is worth (whatever an ounce is valued at). What are some of your thoughts on this plan and what are the maker’s names to look for on the one ounce pieces that will serve this purpose, if you know.

  15. I too avoided purchasing the junk due to concern that potential barterers will not be savey to the value of them. The one ounce pieces are easier to determine the value at any given time and most won’t want to have to do a field test to determine content. Therefore, I opted for either pay the premium and eat the cost or go with the known refiner’s name on the piece. This seems to be the safest method of insuring survival. If I’m wrong, please contest my rationale, but I don’t think I am.

  16. I too avoided purchasing the junk due to concern that potential barterers will not be savey to the value of them. The one ounce pieces are easier to determine the value at any given time and most won’t want to have to do a field test to determine content. Therefore, I opted for either pay the premium and eat the cost or go with the known refiner’s name on the piece. This seems to be the safest method of insuring survival. If I’m wrong, please contest my rationale, but I don’t think I am.

  17. I am going to go one step further and say that silver is worthless in case of TEOTWAWKI. As is gold, money or any other version of currency. Seriously, if you come to my house and want to trade some of my supplies for your “valuable metal” or something like that, I'm going to laugh so hard you'll still hear me when the security door has slammed shut before your face. In case of a disaster the only metal I might need some of would be steel, for welding projects in long term situations. What use would I have for silver? Trading for food? I have food, and besides, you saw how good it worked for you when you came to my door and tried to trade just a moment ago.

    No really, all joking aside… Take your time and really think about what would happen in a severe situation. Not only will the few people who still even believe in any form of currency still take any form of paper and coin money, those that do now believe in any form of currency any more will still happily trade you for all the extra supplies you could have bought for the money instead of putting it all in silver. If you are preparing for a “temporary” situation, where you one day will be able to sell your silver back to the state or something and go on with your old life, then you are not only deluding yourself, but you'll be dead before you get that far. Put your money into the supplies that matter… currency isn't one of them.

  18. Currently the best metals to invest in are lead and copper. over the last few years my “stocks” have gone up in value several times over.

  19. Currently the best metals to invest in are lead and copper. over the last few years my “stocks” have gone up in value several times over.

  20. Hello everyone,

    There's over 26,000 stores across the US already accepting silver and gold as payment. I think silver is great for profit purposes also, since it appears that it's very undervalued. A website that helped me learn a lot about silver barter is: http://www.silverbarter.com They also have very low premiums on their junk silver.

  21. I have just self published a book on junk coins at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/investing…. It gives an introduction to the hows and whys of investing in junk coins and data for thousands of coins minted throughout the Western world over the past 200 years.

    I will offer a free electronic copy of the book to anyone who has a blog or other site for promotion who will agree to consider a review and a link. No obligations other than an honest appraisal and consideration.

  22. thanks for coinflation info. it is a great site. one of the best ways i have learned to buy bullion is to get a good scale and test tools for jewlery. there is plenty to buy through friends and family, flip the jewelry and buy 90% coins sit down with people and be honest. tell them if they have a rare coin, assuming you know key dates and make fair offers on their coins. word gets around and before you know it people will seek you out. there are to many rip off and con artist stealing esp.from older and unknowledgable folks presious metals for big profits, don’t be one of them. stay with what you can afford to buy and cash is better than a check when your buying. you are making the investment so below spot is fair. the price goes down just as it goes up.use the coinflation site to see up to date prices and figure what is a fair offer to buy at.I have found it the best way to build up my personal possesion of silver. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Also make up a few cards with your contact info. Word of mouth goes a long way, the dealers are entilted to make profits so you have to pay their prices for gold and silver. Believe me you know plenty of people who have it. Why not be the buyer. do not over extend your cash flow. But even if you need to sell find the dealer paying the most[ I have a place in philly that I can get top buck for] People are suffering and selling their silver for peanuts. I  can not stress it enough be fair!!! but don,t over pay. If a dime has 2.00  of silver I buy at a  price my  conscience lets me, 20% under coinflation prices may be a fair price for you to buy at. Just buy some silver 90% coins you will need them in the near future in my opinion check out what the state of utah passed as legistation. folks are buying food with it.Yes stores are weighing it and telling you how much purchasing power you have. YES to buy foood WE are living at a time when the dollar is crashing and good old silver is king!. good luck

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