Whether you want to collect silver coins as a hobby or as a hedge against economic uncertainty, knowing how much they are worth according to their silver content will help you avoid paying too much.
U.S. silver dollars, half dollars, quarters and dimes made before 1965, and silver state quarters, are 90 percent pure silver.
Pre-1965, silver dollars contain 0.7734 troy oz. of silver. Half dollars contain 0.3617 troy oz. Quarters contain 0.1808 troy oz. Dimes contain 0.0723 troy oz.
To calculate a coin's silver value, multiply its silver content by the spot price of silver. Based on a hypothetical spot price of $14 a troy ounce, a 90 percent silver dollar would be worth $10.83.
American Silver Eagle bullion coins, produced by the U.S. Mint since 1986, contain 1 oz. of 99.9 percent pure silver. The noncollectible version sold by coin dealers would be worth $14 based on the hypothetical spot price above.
Depending on rarity and condition, many silver coins command a collector's premium that far exceeds their silver value. Dealers charge a small premium even for noncollectible silver coins, commonly called "junk silver."