The United States government used to make nickels, dimes, quarters, half dollars, and dollar coins out of silver. The key is to accurately identify your old coins to determine how much silver is in them.
From mid-1942 until 1945, the U.S. government made nickels out of 35 percent silver. They are fairly common and not worth much more than face value. If they are in uncirculated condition they are worth a few dollars each.
All dimes minted in 1964 or earlier are made out of 90 percent silver. Most are worth a few dollars each. A 1916-D silver dime is worth more than $15,000 in uncirculated condition.
All quarters minted in 1964 or earlier are made out of 90 percent silver. The 1932-D and 1932-S quarters are worth more than $100 each, while common date silver quarters are worth about $12 each.
Silver Half Dollars
All half dollars minted in 1964 or earlier are made out of 90 percent silver. A 1916 S silver Walking Liberty half dollar could be worth as much as $4,000. Kennedy half dollars minted between 1965 and 1970 are made out of 40 percent silver. They are worth a few dollars each.
The U.S. Mint stopped making silver dollar coins in 1935. Even poor examples of common date coins are worth more than $20 each. An 1893-S Morgan silver dollar sold for more than $1 million in 2008.
Kent Ninomiya is a veteran journalist with over 23 years experience as a television news anchor, reporter and managing editor. He traveled to more than 100 countries on all seven continents, including Antarctica. Ninomiya holds a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences with emphasis in history, political science and mass communications from the University of California at Berkeley.