Junk Silver Coins – 40% & 90%

Junk silver is the term used when referring to any silver coin that may be in cull or fair condition and has no numismatic or collectible value other than the bullion value of silver that it contains. These old coins may contain either 90 or 40 percent silver. Over the years, junk silver coins have proven to be quite popular among individuals who wish to invest in small amounts of silver. The word “junk” pertains only to the value of the coins as collectibles and has nothing to do with the actual condition of the coins. Additionally, contrary to the popular assumption, “junk” silver does not necessarily mean “scrap” silver. 

More often than not, the true value of a junk silver coin depends on the amount of its silver content. This is why it is important to understand how participants within the market usually pay for silver items. Precious metals such as silver are measured in troy ounces (ozt). The spot price of silver is assigned per troy ounce, which strictly contains either 99.9 percent pure or 999 fine silver. 

Silver coins, including even junk silver, normally carry silver-alloy contents that range from 30-percent to 90-percent or more. The term “coin silver”, in fact, actually refers to 90-percent silver-alloy – the most common alloy used to mint silver US coins.  

Storing money or investing on junk silver coins may not be as widely practiced as collecting precious bullion bars, but there are still fans of junk silver coins out in the market. Novices to coins who want to enter the market actually prefer to trade using junk silver coins because they are relatively smaller, and thus, easier to handle. 

In the US, the most commonly collected junk silver coins are the ones minted before 1965. These include the following:


  • Morgan (1878–1904 & 1921) — 90-percent silver
  • Peace (1921–1928 and 1934–1935) — 90-percent silver


  • Liberty Head “Barber” (1892–1916) — 90-percent silver
  • Walking Liberty (1916–1947) — 90-percent silver
  • Franklin (1948–1963) — 90-percent silver
  • Kennedy (1964) — 90-percent silver
  • Kennedy (1965–1970) — 40-percent silver


  • Liberty Head “Barber” (1892–1916) — 90-percent silver
  • Standing Liberty (1916–1930) — 90-percent silver
  • Washington (1932, 1934–1964) — 90-percent silver


  • Liberty Head “Barber” (1892–1916) — 90-percent silver
  • Winged Liberty Head “Mercury” (1916–1945) — 90-percent silver
  • Roosevelt (1946–1964) — 90-percent silver


  • Jefferson “Wartime” (1942 (partial)-1945) — 35-percent silver