These Are the 4 Best Silver Coin Types To Buy in Order To Turn a Profit

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mzajac / Getty Images/iStockphoto
mzajac / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Silver coins are highly prized by dealers and collectors — not just because of their silver content, but also because they tend to be scarcer than coins minted with copper, nickel, zinc and other metals. The most valuable silver coins sell for millions of dollars, but even ones worth much less than that can turn a tidy profit.

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Finding rare and valuable silver coins outside of dealers and auctions can be a challenge because there aren’t a ton in circulation anymore. The Coinage Act of 1965, signed by President Lyndon Johnson, eliminated 90% silver coins from circulation, according to a blog from ModernCointMart. That law mainly affected U.S. dimes and quarters. Half-dollar coins were still made with 40% silver from 1965 to 1970, but after 1970 no more circulating U.S. coins were made with silver.

You can find still find valuable silver coins on the collectibles market, however, and they might be a good investment. If nothing else, adding silver coins can help diversify your portfolio and give you a hedge against inflation and economic volatility. When spot price eventually rises, provided you have a low dollar cost average regarding your silver stack, you can sell for a profit.

If you are interested in buying silver coins, here are four basic types as listed by the United States Gold Bureau (USGB).

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90% ‘Junk’ Silver Coins

These are 90% silver coins minted before 1965, as referenced above. “Junk silver,” as a category, represents coinage from their period which holds “no collectible or numismatic value” — and is therefore “worthless” to collectors, according to the USGB. It should be noted that not all 90% silver from that period can be classified as “junk silver,” merely common and/or more damaged or circulated examples. However, you might be able to make a profit from them based on their silver content. As the USGB noted, you can buy these coins cheaply and in bulk to build a large collection with relatively pure silver content.

American Silver Eagle Coin

The American Silver Eagle began production in 1986 when the U.S. Defense National Stockpile wanted to get rid of its surplus silver, according to the USGB. One advantage of the American Silver Eagle (ASE) is that it can be used as a silver investment. They’re even eligible as an IRA asset.

There are three variations of this 0.999 fine silver coin: bullion ASEs, which are the cheapest and mainly used for silver investing; burnished ASEs, which are the rarest; and proof ASEs, which are the most expensive.

British Silver Britannia Coin

The USGB calls the silver Britannia “one of the most recognized rare silver coins on the planet.” The UK Royal Mint created these coins in 1997 following the success of their gold Britannia coins. The 1998 to 2012 editions contained 0.958 pure silver, while those from 2013 on contained 0.999 pure silver. Most of the coins bear images of Queen Elizabeth II, though from 2023 onward the coins bear the visage of King Charles III.

Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Coins

This is another silver sovereign coin valued by collectors. It contains 0.9999 fine pure silver and is minted yearly by the Royal Canadian Mint. Like the silver Britannia, many of the Silver Maple Leafs (SMLs) feature Queen Elizabeth II. They have since been updated following the death of the queen in 2022, and newer versions — similarly to the Britannias — feature King Charles III.

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