Two Letters Re: Precious Metal and Base Metal Composition of Foreign Coins?

Mr Rawles,s
My family really enjoys and has benefited from reading your blog. Thank you for putting together such a quality reference site. One topic I have not seen discussed (even after a search of the archives) is whether or not pre-1960s foreign silver coins have any value. As a child, I received a large number of European coins from my grandfather (circa 1920s to 1930s), many of which are silver and a few appear to be bronze. While they have little value to collectors based on condition (I have kept them for sentimental reasons), I would assume that silver is silver and they have some base value. Do you have any opinions or advice regarding using these in a SHTF situation or a suggestion for a reference I could use for more information regarding their silver content? Thank you, – J.S.

I was wondering if you could point me to a source for determining the silver content by year of Canadian coins and if any of them would be worth hanging on to. Thanks in advance! – Montana Marty

JWR Replies: I recommend getting copies of both the 2009 Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000 and the 2010 Standard Catalog of World Coins 2001-Date reference books. Composition data on Canadian coins is also available at these web pages:

Ken Polsson’s Page

Canadian Nickels – Composition

Another good reference for US coins is The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins 2009, but coin composition data is also available online at and Needless to say, when preparing for a grid-down collapse, it is crucial to have hard copies of key references that you’ll need for barter.