Letter Re: “German Silver” and Silver Purity

German-silver is a Brass – or in the family of brass thereof anyway just like bronze – don’t catch me out with too much details as an expert will tell me how far off I am on that statement! Regardless, “German silver” has NO silver at all, it is to varying degrees of composition depending on its intent etc, basically: copper, from 50% to 61.6%; zinc, from 19% to 17.2%; nickel, from 30% to 21.1%. Developed by the way by the German scientist Geitner. There is a related alloy called Tuetenag (see the German connection???…which is very “gold” looking – also the same idea really as a “replacement” for silver using german-silver, and had some sort of Chinese development taken on by the Europeans – Tuetenag can be found with various other names. Sometimes, pretty uncommonly, one sees old flintlock pistol barrels made form it – more expensive then brass. Coin Silver is .900 fine [90% pures silver] you are right there, but it isn’t exactly true to say that it represents silverware items: Flatware or Hollowware made from melted coins – instead really it is simply a way of stating the content of the silver as other then sterling. Indeed you should point out that there were various melts by the Mint and that those Congressionally sanctioned melts deleted a huge supply of American silver coinage (which WAS in turn remade into coins, the last time with the 1921 Morgans I think.) Lastly the Treasury was obliged to surrender 100 million ounces (I think, don’t quote me) of silver to the development of the atomic bomb during WWII – where that stuff came from and where it went – who’d know! There is a Canadian silver coin standard too – I think it is .800 – you may have to help me on that front but the Canadians you may want to add that to your Silver commentary. You might add something about Mexican and South American too – 50 Pesos pieces are the BEST – many silver and gold coins and medals from Latin America list their content right on them (“Ley .900”.) And as well sometimes their weight in grams. Anyway other pesos pieces sell for only respectable gold value money (especially late dates into the 1950s) and are easily carried and widely recognized even north of the Rio Grande – indeed following your good logic about silver dimes, one ought to invest in these pieces. Here’s some information which does NOT however represent all dates of mintages… Description: Mexico – 5 [gold] Pesos – 1906 – Weight: 4.1666 grams – .1339 Troy Oz. – Fineness: .900 Diameter: 19mm. – Fine Gold Content: 3.7497 grams .1205 Troy Oz. Regards, – “Fritz Holland”

JWR Replies: Canada’s early silver coins were originally .925 fine, and hence had slightly smaller coin sizes than their U.S. counterparts. In 1920 the standard was reduced to .800 fine, remaining there until mid-1967 when it was lowered to .500 fine. That was abandoned just a year later in 1968, when they switched to pure nickel coins.