What is Junk Silver?

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Junk silver is a term used informally in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia for silver coins that have no collectible value and are only worth the amount of the silver contained within the coin. These coins are popular with those that want to invest in small amounts of silver. Junk silver is not the same as scrap silver, as the term only means that the coins are not valuable to collectors, not that the coins are in poor condition.

Precious metals such as silver are weighed in troy ounces (ozt). The market price of a troy ounce of silver that is 99.9-percent pure silver (also called 999 fine) is referred to as the spot price. Junk-silver coins, like all silver coins, are made from a silver alloy that contains anywhere from 35 to 90-pecent or more of silver. The 90-percent silver alloy commonly used to mint silver U.S. coins is often referred to simply as “coin silver.”

Combinations of 90% US silver coins with a face value of US$1.00 contain 0.715 troy ounces of 99.9-percent silver, while uncirculated coins contain 0.7234 troy ounces with the exception of Morgan and Pearce silver dollars, which have a silver content of .7736 troy ounces. Put another way, there is one troy ounce of 99.9-percent silver in any combination of 90-percent silver United States coins, with a collective value that totals US$1.40.