Letter Re: Stockpiling Dimes?

I have a question what is the metal makeup of dimes [US 10-cent coins]. I am saving the nickels [US 5-cent coins, as suggested in SurvivalBlog, since 2007]. I have a small amount of dimes and was wondering if they are worth saving? – Curtis M.

JWR Replies: Stockpiling dimes would not be wise. See the base metal value data at Coinflation,com. As of Saturday, August 29th, the base metal value of a post-1964 dime is $0.01704, (less than 2 cents) but the acquisition cost fro each coin is the face value of ten cents.

Meanwhile, the base metal value of a post-1945 nickel, is 0.04811, but the acquisition cost is just five cents–nearly its actual base metal worth. So it is quite realistic to stockpile these as an inflation hedge. Unlike pennies, (which require sorting, and it requires a substantial investment to recoup the cost of buying a sorting machine), the nickel is the only other commonly-circulating coin that has a metallic value near its face value, so I’m steadfast in my advice on saving them. That is, at least until the inevitable new debased issue is released, whereupon it would become difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff.

For someone with time on their hands–such as a retiree–I recommend searching through rolls of half-dollars, from your local bank. The US 50 cent pieces made in and before 1964 are 90% silver (now worth about 12x face value), and those made from 1965 to 1970 are 40% silver (now worth about 5x face value.) Also, those that are dated 1970 have an even greater numismatic value, since it is a “rare date”, as they were only issued in mint sets and proof sets. Although it is not very common, once in a while later-date rare proof coins, which are also 90% silver will slip into circulation. These are easy to spot, because of their distinctive high contrast appearance. By the way, after you have done your “date picking”, when you re-roll the coins to return to the bank, make sure that you mark the rolls in a distinctive way (such as applying a ring of black magic marker), so you can avoid searching through the same roll twice.