Types of Coins

Whether you collect silver coins for their unique designs or their precious metal content, there are dozens of different coin types to consider. From an early U.S. dime to a modern-issue Australian Silver Kangaroo, silver coins have been made all over the world for many years.

Government Bullion

Many government mints produce their own silver and gold bullion coins. Each coin’s content and weight is guaranteed by the government producing it, making it a wise investment. Many collectors find such coins to be an affordable method of investing in precious metals. Silver bullion coins are sold for a small premium above the price of the metal they contain, and are available from many government mints around the world.

The most popular silver bullion coin in the world is the American Silver Eagle. This one-ounce coin was introduced in 1986 by the U.S. Mint. It contains 1 troy ounce of silver. Other widely-collected silver bullion coins include the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf, Austrian Silver Philharmonic, Chinese Silver Panda, Mexican Silver Libertad, and Australian Silver Kangaroo.

Many of these coins also have gold bullion counterparts. They generally contain 1 troy ounce of 99.9% or 99.99% pure silver. On occasion, some of these bullion coins are also made in smaller versions, known as “fractionals,” which are more affordable as they contain less silver.

These silver bullion coins are technically legal tender; each is marked with a symbolic face value. For example, a 1oz American Silver Eagle coin has a face value of $1. However, the face value is much lower than the value of the precious metal the coin contains. As a result, the current value of these silver coins is based on the spot price of silver, plus a premium to account for the unique design and rarity of the coin.

Junk Silver

In addition to silver bullion coins produced specifically for investment, there are a number of circulating U.S. coins that contain silver, which are collected by precious metal investors. These are typically termed “junk silver” because they are not considered rare or in good enough condition to be prized by coin collectors.

Junk silver includes coins minted in the United States prior to 1964, at which point silver was phased out of coinage due to its increasing cost. While many of these coins have the potential of collectible value, they generally have too much wear from circulation to be prized by coin collectors. However, they are still collected for their precious metal value.

Examples of junk silver coins include the Morgan Silver Dollar (1878-1921), the Peace silver dollar (1921-1935) and the Kennedy half dollar dated 1964. Dimes, nickels, and quarters produced prior to 1965 also contain silver.

Any combination of such coins with a face value of $1 generally contains 0.715 troy ounces of silver; $1.40 in face value contains a full troy ounce of silver. There are two notable exceptions to this guideline: each Morgan or Peace silver dollar contains 0.7736 troy ounces of silver.