What coins are Silver?

All American dimes, quarters, and half dollars that were minted in 1964 or earlier contain 90% silver. However, the United States began to face a silver shortage in the 1960s. As a result, people started hoarding their silver coins, creating a shortage of coins as well as silver. President Lyndon B. Johnson wrote to Congress urging changes to the coinage system, stating that “We must take steps to maintain an adequate supply of coins or face chaos in the myriad transactions of our daily life — from using pay telephones to parking in a metered zone to providing our children with money for lunch at school.” The result was the Coinage Act of 1965. Following the Coinage Act, dimes and quarters were made from 75% copper and 25% nickel. The half dollar still contained silver, but this was reduced from 90% to 40%. The half dollar maintained a composition of 80% silver on the face but contained just 21% silver in the core. You can often distinguish 90% silver coins that were produced before 1965 by examining the edge. Clad copper coins have a visible ring of brown around the side, while silver coins are solid silver around the edge. Some of the most valuable 90% silver coins include:

  • 1946-1964 Roosevelt Dimes.
  • 1916-1945 Mercury Dimes.
  • 1892-1916 Barber Dimes.
  • 1794-1837 Bust Dimes.
  • 1837-1891 Seated Liberty Dimes.
  • 1932-1964 Washington Quarters.
  • 1796-1838 Bust Quarters.
  • 1838-1891 Seated Liberty Quarters.
  • 1892-1916 Barber Silver Quarters.
  • 1916-1930 Standing Liberty Quarters.
  • 1964 Kennedy Half Dollars.
  • 1948-1963 Franklin Half Dollars.
  • 1916-1947 Walking Liberty Half Dollars.
  • 1794-1839 Bust Half Dollars.
  • 1839-1891 Seated Liberty Half Dollars.
  • 1892-1915 Barber Half Dollars.
  • 1964-1970 Kennedy Half Dollars.
Back to blog