From roughly 1836 until 1964, all denominations of US silver coins were issued with 90% silver content. These coins included the US dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar. Each coin had 90% silver content and 10% copper content. With the price of silver rising in the 1960s, the US Mint transitioned all of these coins to a new cupro-nickel alloy that was more durable in circulation and more affordable to use in the production of the coins. This applied to all denominations, but not all denominations adopted the new alloy at the same time. Two types of US coins continued with 40% silver content through the end of the 1960s and into the 1970s before moving to the cupro-nickel alloy as well.
When the United States began to move away from 90% silver content in its coins, the Kennedy Half Dollar was the only coin then in production that continued on using 40% silver content instead. The coins were struck from 1965 to 1970 with 40% silver and 60% copper, lowering the silver content enough to not vastly exceed the value of the silver compared to the face value of the coins. The only other coin issued with 40% silver was the Eisenhower Dollar that was introduced in 1971 and available only as a collectible specimen.
The Kennedy Half Dollar design was introduced in 1964 as the last 90% silver coin to debut at the United States Mint. It was conceived in late 1963 following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The US Mint moved quickly to place Kennedy on the half dollar in place of Benjamin Franklin. The design was approved in January 1964 and new coins with Kennedy’s bust were available for distribution by March 1964. Designed by Gilroy Roberts and John R. Sinnock, the images on this coin include:
The last time the United States of America issued a silver dollar was in 1935 when the final Peace Silver Dollars were struck. In 1971, the United States reintroduced a silver dollar with the debut of the Eisenhower Dollar coin. The US Mint contemplated issuing the coins, which were struck from 1971 to 1978, with 40% silver for circulation. However, the mint opted against issuing 40% silver for circulation, instead opting to use the new cupro-nickel alloy. In the end, the Eisenhower Dollar was eventually released with 40% silver content as a collectible piece only through 1978. The design of the coin included:
When you look to buy silver from JM Bullion, you will find 40% silver available amidst our inventory. Please feel free to reach out to JM Bullion customer service with any questions at 800-276-6508. You can also connect with us online through our live chat and email address.