Brian Smith has released the 2nd edition of his Complete Guide to U.S. Junk Silver Coins, providing readers with a worthwhile update that warrants the attention of “junk” silver collectors and investors. Coming in at almost twice the length of the first edition, the book is a thoughtfully balanced resource complete with copious (black and white) images and helpful charts.
“Junk silver” is the name commonly used to describe pre-1965 U.S. coins that carry significant percentages of silver in their metal composition, yet are not seen as collectible in a numismatic sense. Oftentimes, years of wear from circulation have left their features worn or damaged. With some exceptions — which the author is careful to address — the general rule of thumb is that dimes, quarters, and half dollars struck before 1965 are composed of 90% silver.
This leads to an interesting situation, as the metal content of silver-based coins is now worth significantly more than their monetary denomination, while the value of contemporary clad coins is tied to the value of the dollar, which has gradually diminished over the decades due to inflation. For instance, a 1964 quarter composed of 90% silver is worth around 3 dollars today, while a clad 1965 quarter has lost value with inflation, since 25 cents doesn’t carrying the buying power it once had. Smith shows how junk silver holds its value over time and represents a reasonably safe way to invest in precious metals.
Included are chapters looking at the history of silver used in United States coinage, reasons for investing in silver, composition details on specific coins containing the metal, thoughts on how wear effects weight and value, avoiding counterfeits, considering bullion coins, and more.
Because of all the varieties, fractions, and percentages one must bear in mind while sifting through silver-based coins, investing effectively in junk silver requires sound information and patience. Smith helps his readers navigate the pitfalls with admirable clarity.
The Complete Guide to U.S. Junk Silver Coins, 2nd edition is a 160-page independently published paperback. At the time of this writing it can purchased from Amazon for $12.99.