Turn old silver coins, jewelry and silverware into quick cash

Do you have old silver coins lying in a dish? Do you know how to tell? Did you know that there is quite a lot of difference in silver content from different years? The same holds true for silverware and jewelry. You can sell all of these surplus silver items for cash and maybe make a tidy profit. The prices of precious metals, silver and gold, is very high now. There are lots of buyers willing to offer you a great price for your items.

The first thing you have to do is determine whether you have old silver coins at all. Secondly, you need to find out if the coins have value over and above the base metal price. All coins have a basic value. Those made of precious metals have higher base values than those made of copper, zinc or nickel. Most modern coins have a base value that is lower than the value stamped on the coin, its face value. For example, the value of the metal in a quarter is only a few cents. This is referred to as the "melt value". If a coin's melt value is lower than the face value, there will be no buyer offering you more for the coin that the bank will. On the other hand, old silver coins have a melt value that is far higher than their face value.

Most people do not own any old silver coins. Pennies have never contained silver. Only a very few nickels have ever contained silver. The US mint stopped using silver in most dimes, quarters and half dollars back in the 1960's. In the years since then, many people have sold their old silver for melt value. You may be lucky to have some silver coins, however. Your parents or grandparents may as well. Here is the list of coins that you may find in a drawer or jar that do have silver and which may be sold for melt value higher than face value:

Coin Silver Troy Ounce Content
US Nickel 1942-45 0.0563
US Dime pre-1964 0.0723
US Quarter pre-1964 0.1808
US Half pre-1964 0.3617
US Half 1965-1970 0.1479
US Dollar Pre-1936 0.7734
US Dollar 1971-1976 0.3161
Canadian Dime pre-1967 0.0599
Canadian Dime 1967-68 0.0375
Canadian Quarter pre-1967 0.15
Canadian Quarter 1967-1968 0.0937
Canadian 50 cent piece pre-1968 0.2989
Canadian dollar pre-1968 0.6001

Determining the melt value of your coins is a simple matter of adding up the number of each, multiplying by the troy ounce weight of each and multiplying by the current price of silver. For example, if you have one US Eisenhower dollar from 1971, your melt value would be:

1 x 0.3161 x $35.75 = $11.30

In the example, the price of silver is $35.75 so the melt value of the coin is $11.30. Two are worth $22.60 and so on. In the real world, however, there is a spread between the published price of silver and what you receive for melt value. This value represents the profit for the buyer of your coins and covers the actual cost of melting and shipping the coins to a mint or other processing facility. It is up to you to decide whether the spread is justified or not.

Tips to protect you when selling your silver
Always count your coins before you show them to a potential buyer. Make a list of the number of each category. 5 1960 dimes, 6 1960 quarters, 2 1959 dimes. Total 13 coins. Write the value down on a list, make sure it's right and then approach the buyer. You don't want to accidentally lose one in transit or at the buyer's establishment.

Take out the list of your coins when you show your coins to the buyer. This establishes that you have an inventory of your items. Chances are that your buyer is reputable but you never know.

Don't hand a huge pile of unsorted coins to a buyer, hoping for a big payoff. You are likely to get a lower offer to compensate the buyer for having to sort your coins, which takes time.

Don't try to get paid for a coin that isn't on the list. A good buyer will spot junk coins in an instant. It just wastes their time and yours.

Don't try to negotiate a higher price. The price should be established by the buyer and it should apply to everyone who comes in that day. Tomorrow, the price of silver will be higher or lower so the buyer will offer a different price. If you don't like the offered price, thank the buyer and leave. Try another buyer.

If the buyer ups their offer when you attempt to leave, be suspicious. There should be a set price for all silver that is purchased that day. If you receive a higher offer because you are willing to leave, you may have been given a low-ball offer at first. This may indicate that you are dealing with a deceptive buyer.

Make sure that the coins are yours to sell. If you have had them since you were a child, that's great. If you found them in the house, make sure that everyone knows that you are going to check the price of them. Sometimes, the sentimental value of a coin is worth much more than the face or melt value.

Numismatic Coins
There are many coins that have a value far in excess of their melt or face value. These are termed numismatic, (or collectible), coins. Perhaps 98% of all produced coins have little or no numismatic value. These coins can be sold for the melt value. Knowing which coins should not be melted is the subject of the coin collecting hobby. If you have any coins that fall into the above list but which are packaged in mint sets or plastic packaging that protects them, these may be numismatic coins. If the coins have been carefully preserved by your ancestor, they may be numismatic, especially if they are in very attractive condition. Do not touch these coins, drop them or attempt to clean them in any way. There are certain dates which are more valuable than normal. Generally, the dates to watch are those before 1950 or even 1940 and they are particularly rare. As a general guideline, really old silver, pre-1960 half dollars and all silver dollars should be shown to a coin dealer, not a scrap silver buyer. This goes double for all gold coins. Do not, under any circumstances, allow these coins to be sold for melt value. With few exceptions, they are always worth more than the scrap gold content.