One of the easiest ways to start investing in silver bullion or to expand your investment catalog without spending a lot of money is through the purchase of 90%, 40%, and 35% silver. The term “90%, 40%, and 35% silver” is a broad phrase used to describe circulation coinage that is heavily damaged or worn from use, but which still maintains its value based upon the weight and purity of silver within the coin. Learn a little more about 90%, 40%, and 35% silver now before you buy.
These coins, like the modern quarters, dimes, and half-dollars in your pocket today, were once used for all manner of commercial transactions. These coins were never housed in protective plastic or sealed up in capsules. The original intent was not for investment or collection, but rather for settling commercial transactions and debts.
As such, 90%, 40%, and 35% silver coins have signs of wear and tear on them. Others, based upon the design present on the obverse and reverse, may possess signs of attempted repair or cleaning to try and improve the value of the coin as a collectible piece. Regardless, 90%, 40%, and 35% silver coins showcase less luster in their finish and more damage to the design elements, surface areas, and edges than bullion coins which never entered circulation.
As the percentage figures suggest, coins within our listings that start with 90%, 40%, or 35% have that representative amount of silver within the overall metallic content of the coins. However, it is important to understand the distinctions between the coins and dates of those coins that have these varying silver content levels.
From the earliest issue of silver coins in the US, starting around 1795, the United States Mint offered denominations of half-dime, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar. These are the only US coins that were issued with silver content. After early combinations with varying levels of silver purity, the US Mint settled early on with 90% silver content and a balance of 10% copper. The use of copper in the metallic makeup of the coins was meant to provide durability so the coins would withstand everyday handling in commercial transactions.
The half-dime would go out of production in the early 19th century, but the US dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar would go on to feature 90% silver content through 1964 for the dime, quarter, and half dollar, and 1935 for the dollar as that was the last year the Peace Dollar was issued.
When it comes to 40% and 35% silver, the release of these coins was far more limited. 35% silver coins had the shortest and most narrow issue life. During World War II, nickel was a valuable metal in the war effort. As circulation US nickels had 75% copper and 25% nickel, the US Mint was instructed to find a way to remove nickel from production of the coins so it could be preserved and redirected to the war effort.
The result was a 35% Silver US Nickel that has gone down in history as the War Nickel. Featuring the effigy of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and his home at Monticello on the reverse, the War Nickel was issued from mid-1942 until the end of the war in 1945 with a new metallic composition of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. These are the only US coins ever issued with 35% silver.
As for 40% silver, these coins were likewise limited in denominations and date marks. The US half dollar was the first coin ever issued with 40% silver and the only one to reach circulation. The 1964 introduction of the Kennedy Half Dollar design was the one and only in that series with 90% silver. From 1965 to 1970, the US Mint continued to release the Kennedy Half Dollar with 40% silver content before transitioning the coin to the cupro-nickel alloy in 1971. The only other coin ever issued with 40% silver was the Eisenhower Dollar. Released from 1971 to 1978, the Eisenhower Dollar was the first silver dollar issued by the US Mint since 1935 and the last silver dollar issued. Only proofs of the coin were ever issued with 40% silver.
If you’ve purchased silver coins before, you’re probably familiar with some of the designs you’ll find on 90% silver coins in our 90%, 40%, and 35% silver catalog. The following are some popular examples of 90% silver coins, though it is not a comprehensive list of all possible coins with this silver content:
Amid rising silver prices in the 1960s, the United States Mint took action to ensure it was still economically feasible to strike silver coins. Though many of the smaller denominations of US coins were already transitioning toward more durable metallic alloys for composition, it wasn’t until 1964 that 90% silver content in coins was done away with.
As mentioned above, two coins featured 40% silver content and both were issued more recently in the 1960s and 1970s. The visuals on these coins include:
As mentioned earlier, the only coin in American history ever issued with 35% silver content was the War Nickel, the common name used for the Jefferson Nickels issued at the height of World War II between mid-1942 and 1945. The coin had the iconic designs that you still see modified versions of on the modern nickel. These designs include:
90%, 40%, and 35% silver is a great buy for several types of investors. If you’re just starting out as an investor, 90%, 40%, and 35% silver offers a very affordable starting point. If you already invest in major silver bullion coins, but want to add bulk amounts of silver at a more affordable pricing point, this type of silver is also a good option. The bottom line is that 90%, 40%, and 35% silver has a more affordable pricing point compared to the spot price of silver than modern bullion and proof coins.
We encourage JM Bullion customers with questions about 90%, 40%, and 35% silver to reach out to us at 800-276-6508 with questions. You can also connect with us online through our live chat and email address features.