Letter Re: Advice on Silver Coins and Silver Certificates

Dear Jim:
I am new to survival preparedness but I am learning by reading SurvivalBlog every day and your book Patriots. I do have a question about junk silver. My dad always collected coins when I was a kid and he always told me about saving the ones from before 1965 as they were silver and I have a small stash from those years. But what about the [Eisenhower] “silver dollars” from the 1970’s? I always got those as gifts when I was a kid and I have a small stash of those too. Do these “silver dollars” have any real silver in them? Are they worth keeping with my “junk silver” stash? What about the new Liberty “Silver Dollars” that the banks sell each year? Do they contain real silver? Are they worth the $17 per coin the that bank charges for these? And finally, I have some old “Silver Certificate” Dollar bills – any thoughts as to if those will have any worth in a SHTF scenario? Thanks for your help.
– L.C.A. in N.Y.

JWR Replies: Take a look at the rims of those Eisenhower”silver” dollars. If they have a copper color streak, then they have no significant silver contents. (Like the post-1964 quarters, they are a silver-flashed copper-nickel token.) There were a few Eisenhower dollars minted in 90% silver as “mint proofs”, struck especially for the collector market. These special silver proof coins will not show any copper on the rim. Nearly al of those will still be in special U.S. Mint holders, but it is conceivable that a few were removed from their holders and are floating around loose. It is worth your time to examine them. But the ones that are clad tokens only have marginal collector’s value

The “Liberty Dollars” and other one ounce silver rounds and bars–typically .999 fine (99.9%) silver–have been struck in large numbers by private mints over the years. Like the U.S. Mint American Eagle silver rounds, they are indeed pure silver. Silver one ounce rounds and bars are first sold at a huge premium over the spot price of silver. (At least 50%), but on the secondary market, they sell at just “spot”–the day’s current price of silver. I prefer pre-1965 U.S. coinage for barter–since they are more immediately recognized as genuine by the citizenry. But if you ever have the chance to buy some one ounce “rounds” right at or just over the current spot price of silver, then that would be worth purchasing.

Sadly, U.S. Silver Certificates have had no redeemability for silver since 1964. (Yet another broken promise from Uncle Sugar. They are marked “In Silver, Payable to Bearer on Demand”, but what they should have had printed is: “In Silver, Payable to Bearer on Demand, until we renege on our promise, then it’s tough Schumer for you.”) If a silver certificate $1 note is in minty condition, and depending on its issue series, it could be worth several dollars to a currency collector. (To currency collectors, condition is everything. They want notes that look brand new, with no signs of wear, folding, or discoloration.) Unless you intend to be a collector in the long term you are probably better off trading those notes to a coin shop for some circulated “junk” silver dimes or quarters that you could use for barter. Who knows, if you are lucky they might even give you $1 worth (in face value) of well-worn 90% silver coinage for each of those notes.