Silver Content of US Coins 2


Hard to believe that there was a period that the circulating coins we used had silver and gold content. There was even a time when silver was included in various coins from the Three Cent Pieces to the Dollar. Today, we only find silver in special collector coins and Commemoratives. Let’s go through the history of Silver Coins in the United States.

Early Silver Coins

Back in Colonial Times, people used silver and gold coins from European nations. One of the most common coins used was the silver Spanish Dollar, also known as a Real or a piece of eight.

After the United States became it owns nation, one of the things that needed to be done was to produce its own coinage. The Coinage Act of 1792 would introduce a US Mint to be built in Philadelphia and a new US coinage system. The Half Dime (5 cent piece), Dime, Quarter, Half Dollar and Dollar coins would all include silver. With the Spanish Dollar being popular, the US would make their dollar similar in weight and would become the monetary standard. Back then, silver coins contained 89.24% silver. By 1837, the content of silver for all silver coins would be increased to 90% which they would remain until 1964.

End Of Silver In US Coins

When the US endured depressions including 1873 and 1929, silver and gold were threatened to be removed from US coins, but silver coins wouldn’t go away, at least until the 1960s. The price of silver was on the increase and people were starting to hoard their silver coins instead of spending them. The US Government was even considering bringing back the Morgan Dollar or Peace Dollar in 1964, but neither would make it. As a result, the Coinage Act of 1965 would finally remove silver from US coins. The exception being the Kennedy Half Dollar which would contain 40% silver from 1965 to 1970. With silver 1970-D Kennedy Half Dollars only available in Mint Sets, the 1969-D Half Dollar would be the last circulating coin to contain any silver.

With the 1970s came a new dollar for the first time in 36 years, the Eisenhower Dollar, which would be the first US dollar without silver, at least for the public. The Mint would release 40% silver Eisenhower Dollars for collectors between 1971 – 1976.

There would be special coinage and commemoratives that would contain silver, but it wouldn’t return to the Roosevelt Dime, Washington Quarter and Kennedy Half Dollar until 1992, and they would only be included in Proof Sets.

Silver Coin Content Table

As you can use this table to see how much silver each coin contained, you can also determine the melt value or minimum value of each coin by multiplying the current Silver Price per ounce by the number in the Silver (oz) column below.

Coin Type Date Diameter
(mm)
Composition Weight
(g)
Silver
(oz)
Three Cent Silver 1851-1853 14 0.75 Silver, 0.25 Copper 0.8 0.0193
Three Cent Silver 1854-1873 14 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 0.75 0.0218
Nickel Jefferson
(Wartime)
1942-1945 21.2 0.56 Copper, 0.35 Silver,
0.09 Manganese
5 0.05625
Half Dime Flowing Hair 1794-1795 16.5 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 1.35 0.0388
Half Dime Draped Bust 1796-1805 16.5 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 1.35 0.0388
Half Dime Capped Bust 1829-1837 15.5 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 1.35 0.0388
Half Dime Liberty Seated 1837-1853 15.5 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 1.34 0.0388
Half Dime Liberty Seated 1853-1873 15.5 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 1.24 0.0362
Dime Draped Bust 1796-1807 19 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 2.7 0.0775
Dime Capped Bust 1809-1837 18.8 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 2.7 0.0775
Dime Liberty Seated 1837-1853 17.9 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 2.67 0.0775
Dime Liberty Seated 1853-1873 17.9 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 2.49 0.0721
Dime Liberty Seated 1873-1891 17.9 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 2.5 0.07234
Dime Barber 1892-1916 17.9 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 2.5 0.07234
Dime Mercury 1916-1945 17.9 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 2.5 0.07234
Dime Roosevelt 1946-1964 17.9 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 2.5 0.07234
Twenty Cent Seated Liberty 1875-1878 22 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 5 0.1447
Quarter Draped Bust 1796-1807 27.5 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 6.74 0.19350
Quarter Capped Bust 1815-1828 27 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 6.74 0.1935
Quarter Capped Bust 1831-1838 24.3 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 6.74 0.1935
Quarter Liberty Seated 1838-1853 24.3 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 6.68 0.1934
Quarter Liberty Seated 1853-1873 24.3 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 6.22 0.18
Quarter Liberty Seated 1873-1891 24.3 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 6.25 0.18084
Quarter Barber 1892-1916 24.3 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 6.25 0.18084
Quarter Standing Liberty 1916-1930 24.3 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 6.25 0.18084
Quarter Washington 1932-1964 24.3 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 6.25 0.18084
Half Dollar Flowing Hair 1794-1795 32.5 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 13.48 0.3869
Half Dollar Draped Bust 1796-1807 32.5 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 13.48 0.3869
Half Dollar Capped Bust 1807-1836 32.5 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 13.48 0.3869
Half Dollar Capped Bust 1836-1839 30 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 13.36 0.3867
Half Dollar Liberty Seated 1838-1853 30.6 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 13.36 0.3867
Half Dollar Liberty Seated 1853-1873 30.6 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 12.44 0.36
Half Dollar Liberty Seated 1873-1891 30.6 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 12.5 0.36169
Half Dollar Barber 1892-1916 30.6 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 12.5 0.36169
Half Dollar Walking Liberty 1916-1947 30.6 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 12.5 0.36169
Half Dollar Franklin 1948-1963 30.6 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 12.5 0.36169
Half Dollar Kennedy 1964 30.6 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 12.5 0.36169
Half Dollar Kennedy 1965-1970 30.6 Clad: 0.8, Silver 0.2
Copper Core: 0.209 Silver,
0.791 Copper
11.5 0.1489
Dollar Flowing Hair 1794-1795 40 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 26.96 0.7737
Dollar Draped Bust 1795-1804 40 0.8924 Silver, 0.1076 Copper 26.96 0.7737
Dollar Gobrecht 1836-1839 38.1 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 26.73 0.7736
Dollar Liberty Seated 1840-1873 38.1 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 24.057 0.77344
Dollar Trade Dollar 1873-1885 38.1 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 27.22 0.78780
Dollar Morgan 1878-1921 38.1 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 26.73 0.77344
Dollar Peace Dollar 1921-1935 38.1 0.9 Silver, 0.1 Copper 26.73 0.77344
Dollar Eisenhower 1971- 1976 38.1 Clad: 0.8 Silver,
0.2 Copper Core: 0.209 Silver,
0.791 Copper
24.59 0.3161
Dollar American Eagle 1986- 40.6 0.9993 Silver 0.0007 Copper 31.10 1.00000

There Are Many US Coins With Silver

I read somewhere that between 1794 and 1935, the United States minted almost 900,000,000 Silver Dollars. Personally, I didn’t think there were that many minted. Compare that to the 1964 and 1964-D Washington Quarters which saw over 1.2 billion minted. There were more quarters minted in that one year than over a century of Silver Dollars. Incredible!

Wouldn’t it be something if we saw silver in circulating coins again? I don’t think we’ll see that again will all those dimes and quarters minted each year. Besides, people would hoard them like they did back in the 1960s, but it would be something nice to see.


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2 thoughts on “Silver Content of US Coins

  • Tim Bennett!

    Hi Kevin,

    I really like money…

    At least I like what I can do with it, so as I found your site, I was really interested to discover the facts about the silver content.

    I can completely understand why people would want to keep all that silver!

    I would too probably…

    Liked that article, which seemed well researched!

    Just curious, where did you do all your research for this project?

    Awesome!

    Tim

    • Kevin Post author

      Thanks for the comment Tim! I’ve been collecting coins for quite some time, but I still need to do research whether it be online or the Red Book.