Silver Coins FAQ’s

The following provides some of the most Frequently Asked Questions or FAQ’s about silver coins. Specific product related questions and answers focus on silver coins produced by the United States Mint.

What are 90% silver coins?

Simply put, 90% silver coins are those strikes which have a composition consisting of 90% silver and 10% in another or other metals. The term is typically applied to pre-1965 American circulating coinage such as the dimes, quarters, dollars and half dollars which were struck with that composition. In addition, modern U.S. commemorative silver coins also are 90%.

What is a coin’s melt value?

The term “melt” is merely slang for the current market value of the precious metal contained within a coin, also known as its intrinsic value. For example, an American Silver Eagle contains one ounce of .999 fine silver, so its melt value would be equal to the current spot price of an ounce of silver.

How do silver coins melt calculators work?

Basically, a silver coin calculator takes the amount of silver expected to be in each strike and multiplies it by the current spot price of silver. Thus, if you have one American Silver Eagle (containing one ounce of .999 fine silver) and silver is currently trading at $25 an ounce, the calculator would give you a value of $25. Four of the eagles at the same silver market value would give you a total of $100.

How do you calculate how much silver is in a coin?

The easiest way to calculate how much preciouesilver is in a coin is to use a coin calculator such as the one found on Along with the current melt value of the strike, it will also show how much silver the coin contains.

What is a coin’s intrinsic value?

A coin’s intrinsic value is equal to the current market value of the metals contained within that strike. For example, if silver is currently trading at $20 an ounce, an American Silver Eagle (which contains one ounce of silver) would have an intrinsic value of $20. Intrinsic values and melt values are often interchanged.

What is a coin’s numismatic value?

Numismatic value is how much a coin would be worth to collectors mainly based on its rarity and condition. Coins for which the mintage was extremely low, or coins which are in almost perfect condition would almost always have a higher numismatic value than coins not meeting one or both of those criteria.

Which circulating U.S. coins have silver in them?

Pre-1965 circulating dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars were all struck by the U.S. Mint from a silver composition for many years. These silver coins includes:

  • 1916-1945 Mercury Dimes
  • 1945-1964 Roosevelt Dimes
  • 1932-1964 Washington Quarters
  • 1916-1947 Walking Liverty Half Dollars
  • 1948-1963 Franklin Half Dollars
  • 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars
  • 1878-1921 Morgan Dollars
  • 1921-1935 Peach Dollars

Many of these same silver coins, when worn and of little value to collectors, are sold in 90% silver coin bags.

Why do the America the Beautiful Silver Coins have the same designs as the quarters?

The design of the America the Beautiful 5 oz Silver Coins is dictated by the law which authorized them, the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-456). The law created the 12-year quarter series that honors national parks and other national sites throughout the U.S. and its territories. It also requires the Mint to produce the three-inch diameter, five-ounce .999 fine silver bullion coins with designs that have to be “exact duplicates of the quarter dollars.”

How does the U.S. Mint decide on what commemorative silver coins to make?

All silver commemorative coins are authorized by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States. As such, the U.S. Mint does not play a direct role in the decision of which commemorative products it will produce.

How many commemorative silver coins does the U.S. Mint release each year?

Typically, the United States Congress will authorize two commemorative silver coins per year. That number may change, however, based on Congressional legislation. For example, in 2008 the U.S. Mint only released the Bald Eagle Commemorative Silver Dollar while in 2006 there were six different silver commemorative coins issued.

How many silver sets does the U.S. Mint release each year?

In recent years, the US Mint has issued two silver sets annually. The first is the United States Mint Silver Proof Set™. It contains proof strikes representative of all of the circulating coinage of the United States for a year, with the half dollar, dime and quarters all minted in 90% silver. The second set is the US Mint Quarters Silver Proof Set which contains proof quality silver strikes of the circulating quarters issued that year. Again, these are composed of 90% silver.

What are graded coins?

Graded coins are those strikes which have been sent in to a third party service that evaluates each piece and gives them a rating based on their condition. Coins with heavy wear would receive a much lower grade than one just minted.