What's In A Bag Of Silver Coins?

A bag of silver coins is what you will receive if you buy a significant number of junk silver coins at one time.

To save money, silver bullion dealers consolidate circulated silver coins in bags and market them. These savings are then passed on to you in the form of lower silver prices.

Junk silver coins, by definition, do not carry numismatic (collectible) value. These US silver coins are purchased solely for their silver coin melt value.

Dealers are usually unconcerned about preserving the condition of coins that were heavily circulated. So the use of bags to hold junk silver coins is a standard practice.

US 90% Silver Coins (Mercury Dimes)

What Are Face Values?

To make it simple, dealers divide the circulated silver coins into face value amounts that are easy to understand. For example, if a bag of silver coins has a face value of $100 it could contain the following US silver coins:

  • 1,000 dimes
  • 400 quarters
  • 200 half-dollars
  • Some combination of dimes, quarters or half dollars.
  • 100 Morgan or Peace Silver Dollars

Using the first example, the legal tender amount of a dime is 10¢. So the $100 face value is calculated by multiplying 0.10 by 1,000.

Mint Dates and Silver Content Amounts

The silver content in coins with the same legal tender amount can vary based on their issue dates.

For instance, a $500 bag of Kennedy half dollars (1,000 coins) minted in 1965 has approximately 148 oz. of silver. But 1,000 Kennedy half dollars minted in 1964 will net you 358 silver ounces.

Why the difference? US half dollars minted prior to 1965 are 90% silver. From 1965 thru 1970 the silver bullion content was reduced to 40%.

The most frequently purchased junk silver coins are 90% silver dimes, quarters and half dollars. All US 90% junk silver coins have a 1964 or earlier mint date.

US 90% Silver Coin (1964 Kennedy Half Dollar)

The silver coin melt value is the price a refining company is willing to pay for scrap silver coins it intends to recycle.

Common Bag Sizes and Estimated Silver Weights

The quick guide included below is for 90% silver coins. It lists estimated silver weights of different bag sizes. I included face values commonly offered by silver bullion dealers.

Face Value of Bag Silver Purity Estimated Silver Dimes & Quarters Estimated Silver Half Dollars
    $50   90%       35.8 oz.     36.0 oz.
    $100   90%       71.5 oz.     71.9 oz.
    $250   90%       178.8 oz.     179.8 oz.
    $500   90%       357.5 oz.     359.6 oz.
    $750   90%       536.3 oz.     539.4 oz.
    $1,000   90%       715.0 oz.     719.2 oz.

Circulated silver coins were handled by people using them on a day-to-day basis. Over time these coins lose a little of their silver.

In the above quick guide, dimes and quarters are grouped together since they have been circulated the most.

Half dollars were handled less by the public. So I put them in a separate column to highlight the additional silver you get if you buy a bag of silver coins containing 90% silver half dollars.

Remember the silver weights in the above guide are estimates of what you should expect. You won't know the exact weights until you receive your junk silver coins and weigh them.

How To Weigh Your Junk Silver Coins

An easy way to weigh your silver coins is as follows:

  • Measure an empty container to get the tare weight.
  • Pour your coins into the container and get the gross weight of the container w/coins.
  • Subtract the tare weight (empty container) from the gross weight of the container w/coins to determine your coins' total weight.
  • Multiply the total weight of your coins by their silver purity percentage (i.e. 90% = 0.90) to get the actual (net) silver weight.

The conversion table (see below) may be helpful if you do not have a scale that measures in troy ounces.

Conversions to Troy Ounces
Unit of WeightTroy Ounces
  1 Pound  14.583333
  1 Standard Oz.   0.911458
  1 Gram   0.032150

Please click here for more detailed information concerning the silver content in coins and how to estimate silver coin values.

What If You Only Want A Few?

For more modest budgets, you can purchase smaller quantities of junk silver coins either individually or in rolls (like you see at a bank).

Nevertheless the cost per coin is a little more if you buy in smaller numbers ... as you have probably already guessed.

US 90% Silver Coins (Washington Quarters)

Whether you buy a bag of silver coins or only a few, junk silver coins are an excellent way to invest in silver bullion.

Please select a link in my navigation bar (upper left) or one of the links listed below to learn more about precious metals.

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