Letter Re: Advice on Pre-1965 Silver Coinage

Hello James,
I have started buying “junk” U.S. silver coins as part of my preparedness plan. I have found the valuation formula for bulk bags of the 90% silver coins, but in spite of a lot of research I have still have not been able to find the formula to value an individual coin. Would you please provide the formula to determine the value of an individual 90% silver dime, quarter, and half-dollar?
Thank You and God Bless, – Joe from Florida

JWR Replies: Here is some data that you should print out and keep in your reference binder. Most of what you need to do to calculate coin melt values is simply shift decimal places…

90% .50/.25/.10 bags ($1,000 face value) contain approximately 715 ounces of silver.

So at today’s spot price (in mid-June, 2012):

$28.73 spot x 715 ounces = $20,541.95 for a full $1,000 bag (Or just think of it as 20.5 x face value.)


$2,054.19  for $100 face value


$205.42 for $10 face value


$20.54 for $1 face value.  (BTW, silver dollars have a silver content greater than four quarters. Not only is there numismatic value, but there is also slightly more silver content, per dollar.)


$10.26 for a silver half dollar


$5.13 for a silver quarter


$2.05 for a silver dime

You can find detailed coin specifications at Coinflation.com. (These are useful if you’d rather calculate coin values by the gram.)

And speaking of which, here are some handy conversion formulas:

Grams to pennyweights, multiply grams by .643
Pennyweights to grams, multiply pennyweights by 1.555
Grams to troy ounces, multiply grams by 0.32
Troy ounces to grams, multiply troy ounces by 31.103
Pennyweights to troy ounces, divide pennyweights by 20
Troy ounces to pennyweights, multiply troy ounces by 20
Grains to grams, multiply grains by .0648
Grams to grains, multiply grams by 15.432
Pennyweights to grains, multiply pennyweights by 24
Avoirdupois ounces to troy ounces, multiply avoirdupois ounces by .912
Troy ounces to avoirdupois ounces, multiply troy ounces by 1.097
Avoirdupois ounces to grams, multiply avoirdupois ounces by 28.35
Grams to Avoirdupois ounces, multiply grams by .035

P.S.: $1,000 face value bags of 40% silver half dollars (with 1965 to 1970 mint dates) contain approximately 296 ounces of silver.