How do I organize my circulated silver coins for sale?

Several times a day customers come in to sell us their circulated silver coins.  These coins arrive in containers, bags and boxes of every imaginable shape and size.  We find them unnecessarily sorted by decade, by date, and by type.

Silver coins have not circulated in over 45 years so most people under the age of 40 have never even seen a silver coin.  Understandably, we don’t expect first-time customers to know very much about these coins.   The truth is most people don’t know how to organize their bulk silver coins for sale to a coin dealer.

Although there are many sources to determine the value of silver coins there is very little online help on how to prepare your coins for a visit to a coin dealer.  This post aims to help you sell your coins easily and hassle-free.

When customers bring us their bulk silver coins one of the first things they ask is whether we will search for rare or key date coins.  Of course, since we specialize in rare U.S. coins, we are always looking to buy coins of historical significance and value.  Yet our experience shows that most of the bulk circulated silver coins we purchase today are really worth only their silver content.

The reason is:  many well-known rare coins were pulled from circulation by the end of World War II.  Most silver coin hoards were accumulated between the mid 1960’s and the early 1970’s as a result of the removal of silver from coins in 1965.  So despite the low probability of finding better date coins we will still do our best to look for them as we appraise your bulk silver coins.

On the other hand, you may have coins in albums with holes for each coin by date and mint.  These would have been  assembled by a collector who might have purchased coins from a dealer or auction.  A coin album is where better date coins can be found, not in the coffee can.  If you have coins in an album it is best to keep them intact because they could contain key dates that may be worth a great deal more than their silver value.  You definitely will want to bring us your albums along with your bulk coins for a free written appraisal.

For purposes of selling your bulk silver coins we advise our customers to organize them into 4 groups.  While this is not a requirement doing so will help expedite our process.  However, we realize that with today’s hectic schedules, weeding through a pile of old coins may not be high on your priority list.  If this is the case then please bring us your coins as they are and we will gladly take the time to organize and appraise them for you.

If you like, here is how to group your silver coins:

  1. Dimes, quarters, and half dollars 1964 and prior.  This includes all 20th century U.S. silver coinage through 1964.  These coins contain 90% silver by weight.  You can combine them because 10 dimes have the same amount of silver as 4 quarters or 2 half dollars.
  2. JFK half dollars from 1965 through 1970.  These half dollars were made of 40% silver unlike previously dated silver coins that contained 90% silver.  Since all silver JFKs look alike, the only way to distinguish the 40 percenters from the 90 percenters is to examine them individually by date.  Place any 1964 JFKs with your 90% coins (group 1) and 1965’s through 1970’s in group 2.
  3. Silver dollars from 1878 through 1935.  We examine and appraise each silver dollar individually as there is a greater chance that you have a rare date or better condition coin.  Both contribute to higher value.  You want to take care in handling your silver dollars and never clean them.  Please note, modern U.S. dollar coins taken from circulation (Eisenhower, Susan B. Anthony, and Sacagawea) are only worth their face amount so you don’t have to bring them.  You can simply spend them or deposit them in a bank account.
  4. Silver coins that do not fall into the above 3 groups.  These include 19th century and earlier U.S. silver coins.  This is the category where you are most likely to find rare and valuable coins.  You may also include any foreign silver coins with this group.

Sometimes modern copper-clad coins can get mixed in with silver coins.  Therefore, we must remove any of them before counting.  Although checking each coin by date is one way to verify content it is difficult and time-consuming.  There is a much easier way.

The best way to is to hold a group of coins like I am demonstrating here.  Any non-silver coins will immediately stand out.  In the picture notice that the third coin from the left isn’t silver.  You can tell by its copper color.  Thus, you can identify any post-silver era circulating coin by its edge; it won’t be silver.

This is what we do when you bring us your coins.  When you organize your silver coins into the four groups described above, your visit to our shop will be fast and easy.  Be assured, this is only a recommendation and not a requirement.  Either way, we will help you to get the highest possible prices for your coins.

Stay tuned for future blogs where we plan to discuss how to organize your pennies and nickels and how cleaning can ruin a coin’s value.

Read on for the five most common mistakes people make before visiting a coin dealer.

About Robert Minichino

Robert Minichino is owner and full-time numismatist at Central Jersey Rare Coins. He is a Life Member (#3485) of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and has submission privileges with coin grading services of PCGS, NGC, and CAC. He supports local coin clubs including Watchung Hills Collectors Club and the Garden State Numismatics Association.
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7 Responses to How do I organize my circulated silver coins for sale?

  1. Jeff says:

    You can always check out coins values at

    But the real key is doing what you are doing here….establishing a relationship with a dealer. Can’t stress the importance of this enough!

  2. Florida ElaineYoung says:

    I have 7 silver certificate paper money. I would like to know if they are worth anything, please get back to me.

  3. Moises says:

    I have a 1913 drei mark coin I found when I was a kid in southern Brooklyn. Where can I bring this coin to find out how much it’s worth? Thanks for your reply!

  4. Dan S. says:

    Thanks a million for your courtesy, your time & your much needed expertise in helping me with my Morgan Dollar Collection on ( Fri.) 12-16-2011. I have some Peace Dollars also that I’ll bring them along when I come in the next time…maybe next week before you go to Fla.

    Once again- let me say “Thanks”–it’s been a real pleasure dealing & speaking with you…’re a CLASS ACT !!
    Your new Pal,
    Dan S.

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