Junk silver is an informal term used in the United States and Canada for any silver coin which is in only fair condition and has no collectible value above the bullion value of the silver it contains. Such coins are popular amongst those seeking to invest in silver, particularly in small amounts. The word "junk" refers only to the value of the coins as a numismatic collectible and not to the actual condition of the coins; junk silver is not necessarily scrap silver.
The most commonly collected U.S. junk silver pieces are Mercury and Roosevelt dimes, Washington quarters, and Franklin and Kennedy half dollars, minted in or before 1964. These coins have a 90% silver composition ("coin silver"), and when minted contained 0.7234 troy ounces of silver per dollar of face value. In practice, the content is usually assumed to be 0.715 ounces because of wear. Less common as junk silver are Kennedy half dollars from 1965 to 1970, which contained 40% silver. Peace Dollars may also be collected for their silver value, but are also less common.
Canadian dimes and quarters contained 80% silver (0.600 troy ounces per dollar of face value) until 1966. In 1967, they were minted in both 80% and 50% varieties. In 1968 they either contained 50% silver, or none at all (Cupro-Nickel). Dollars and half dollars were minted in 80% silver until 1967.
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