Precious metals like gold and silver are regarded as a common barter currency among most preppers. Historically no matter the civilization they have remained of high value and acted as a wealth preservation device. For this reason myself and many others buy Gold and Silver American Eagles and junk coins. What some preppers may not realize is there are some US and Canadian Coins that are worth more than face value. The reasons is the coinage is made from silver or copper rather then zinc and other cheap metals. They use to make USA quarters out of 90% silver back when the dollar was still worth something. 6 quarters = ~1 ounce of silver. As a result many preppers already know that Quarters that are pre-1965 are silver quarters. Their scrap metal value at this moment are around $3 each. That’s worth a lot more than the $0.25 face value.
Imagine buying a $600 AR-15 for $50. 200 silver quarters are worth $600 but show a face value of $50. That really shows how much inflation has hit US currency since leaving the gold standard for fiat money. What some people don’t realize are pennies are also more valuable then the face value. Pennies 1983 and earlier are 95% copper. Making them worth 1.9 cents each scrap value. While copper isn’t in demand to make it common trade today. But imagine you need to make a copper bullet in a post-apocalyptic world. Pennies when melted down can make copper bullets or jackets. So whenever I get change back I am always looking for these hidden treasures. Here is a list of the key dates to know when hunting precious metal coinage.
|Quarter||Pre 1965||90% Silver|
|Dimes||Pre 1965||90% Silver|
|Half Dollars||Pre 1965||90% silver|
|Half Dollars||1965-1969||40% silver|
|Pennies||pre 1984||95% Copper|
|5 Cents||1858-1919||92.5% Silver|
|5 Cents||1920-21||80% Silver|
|10 Cents||1858-1919||92.5% Silver|
|10 Cents||1920-67||80% Silver|
|10 Cents||1967-68||50% Silver|
|20 Cents||All||92.5% Silver|
|25 Cents||1858-1919||92.5% Silver|
|25 Cents||1920-67||80% Silver|
|25 Cents||1967-68||50% Silver|
|50 Cents||1858-1919||92.5% Silver|
|50 Cents||1920-68||80% Silver|
Don’t expect to pay scrap metal prices
You can look up the scrap metal value of the coins based off the current price of silver at various online silver coin calculators. I have not yet been able to pay scrap silver prices on any retail metal purchases. There has always been a mark up to cover dealer fees/profit. As well I believe some of that markup is the converting of hard money to paper money. Think about it which would you rather have… Something the retains or gains in value and is easy to trade or something that is constantly dropping in value. In order for someone to trade for the later they will need more of it. You can make that difference back however when the value rises. Also be careful you aren’t getting a “uncommon” year coin where price is inflated due to the year or place production. That version is great for a coin collector but has no extra value to you the prepper. Beat up Dirty Circulated coins are just as good as mint, rare ones. You want the price as close to scrap value as possible. Sometimes this means buying in bulk.
Silver Coin Hunting
My first exposure to these coins was when I owned a gumball machine business. I saw a strange whitish colored quarter that felt different. After research on it I found out about the silver coins. Without knowing it someone had payed $3 for $0.25 worth of candy. A coin operated business is a great way to hunt these. Some people like going to the bank and getting rolls of coins preferably ones rolled by customers not ones rolled by the banks. Unfortunately most of the silver has been removed from circulation either by the mint or by collectors. Your best chance is with Half Dollars. However some banks require you be a customer and to get $500 worth of half dollars before they will order them for you. Rural Communities and community banks are better places than national banks. Either way the strike rate is low. Pennies on the other hand are easy but they aren’t as valuable or desired right now.
For the silver coins I like to use plastic coin storage containers. These help me to make sure I don’t turn in the rolls. where as the paper wrappers are easy to confuse. Make sure to clearly mark the coins and keep family members informed that these are special and valuable. Worse thing to have happen is for a roll of 40 quarters worth $150 be traded in for a $10 bill.