Find Silver Coins in Circulation

These days, I make a large percentage of my purchases with a credit card.  Yes, I know that some readers might do the opposite, and pay cold

Silver Dime

The silver dime I found

hard cash for everything.  But I like to charge for various reasons (topic for another post), one of which is to avoid getting loose change.

However, there is one thing that this approach reduces: the likelihood of being able to find silver coins.  Yes, Virginia, there are actually some real silver coins in circulation.  We just have to be lucky enough to find them.  We also have to be alert enough to look, and informed enough to recognize them.

Now, admittedly, I very rarely look for silver coins.  As I alluded to above, being free of loose change when out and about is a nice thing.  Thus, I’m not usually thinking about examining everything that comes my way.  Nevertheless, maybe once a month I’ll come across a coin that just looks older and different, as if it’s made of something different than what most coins are.  On rare occasion, they might be silver!

One of those rare occasions happened recently. I was gathering up a small batch of loose change I had collected over the last week, and noticed a dime that looked different.  I checked the date, and lo and behold, it was 1959.  Thus, it was silver.  Not that it’s a big deal, but the thrill of finding something that you don’t see everyday in circulation was kind of cool!

Basically, today’s dimes with Roosevelt’s face are made of a combination of copper and nickel.  This has been the case since 1965, when the Coinage Act of that year moved forward a change in the composition of some coins being produced.  The Roosevelt dimes before 1965 – from 1946 to 1964 – were 90% silver and 10% copper.

If silver is a good investment, as we considered here recently, these coins might actually have some value above and beyond the face denomination.  At a current silver price of close to $35 per ounce, and pre-1965 dimes weighing about 2.5 grams, the silver portion of those coins can be worth around $2.50.  Not bad.  Thus, it’s almost like that dime I found was a “super dime” worth 25 times face value!  Of course, that’s based on the metal value, so we would have to sell the coin first before getting that purchasing power at stores.  But, it’s a nice fun find nonetheless.

It’s not just dimes that have contained silver.  Prior to 1965, quarters were 90% silver, as were half dollars.  Find one of those, and you’re getting something with even more metal value than the aforementioned humble dime.  After all, these other coins are heavier.  Even some nickels had silver: some during the 1942-1945 time frame had silver, though far less than 90%.  Nonetheless, those are clearly worth more in metal value than five cents :)

So, next time you see a coin looking a bit different – check the date on it.  It doesn’t happen very often, but on rare occasions you just may be getting way more than change, in the form of precious metal instead!

My Questions for You:

Do you ever check dates on coins?

Have you ever found a silver coin in circulation?

If so, what did you do with it?


  1. says

    Hubby and I have looked a few times before, but only like 1 in 200 are ever special and I have no idea what to do with them once I find them, lol. So we sort of stopped looking and just use currency as currency. I can see the draw for coin collectors though…

    • Squirrelers says

      Crystal – 1 in 200 isn’t bad. In face value, that would be $20 in dimes. If one of them is worth $2.40 extra due to silver content, your $20 face value is really worth $22.40. An 11.2% rate of return, if scalable, wouldn’t be too bad :)

  2. says

    Before I roll my dimes and quarters, I always look at the stack from the side to check to see if any are silver. I have found one silver dime in that time. I am holding on to it at home.

    • Squirrelers says

      CFM – that’s a good way to look, checking from the side. It sure does seem like there are less of them in circulation these days.

  3. says

    I found a 1966 quarter the other day. Zounds!
    My older son found a Roosevelt dime in change back from a Walmart cashier. He skipped and hopped with delight all the way back to the car.

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