Junk silver is a term used to describe coins with a high content of silver but no numismatic or collectible value. The value of junk silver depends entirely on the silver content of the coins and the spot price for silver on the market. Most American silver coins contain 90 percent silver. Exceptions include the 1942 to 1945 War Nickels, with only 35 percent, and the 1965 to 1970 Kennedy Half Dollar and 1971 to 1976 Eisenhower Dollar, both with 40 percent silver content. Junk silver is also popular with survivalists, who believe precious metal coins, with their intrinsic value, will be the only valid currency if the current financial system collapses. (See References.)
Organize your junk silver by coin type and keep a record of how many coins you have of each type.
Research the silver weight for each coin type in your collection. Several websites (see Resources) provide lists of coins with their silver content and silver weight. For instance, the 1916 to 1945 Mercury Dimes have a silver weight of 0.7234 ounces while the 1932 to 1964 Washington Quarters have 0.18084 ounces of silver in each coin. (See Reference 2.)
Check the current spot price for silver. Newspapers and many websites (see Resources) provide up-to-date spot prices for silver and other precious metals.
Multiply the number of coins you have of any one type by their silver weight and the spot price of silver. For example, if you have 100 Washington Quarters and the spot price of silver is $30 per ounce, you multiply 100 by 0.18084 by 30, which equals $542.52. Not bad for a bag of quarters.
Add the total value of each type of coin you have to find the grand total value of your junk silver collection.