US Coins

When did the US stop making silver coins?

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January 22, 2016 12:50AM

1964 was the date on the last 90% silver coins. Silver coins were actually made up through the early part of 1966 but the 1964 date was used on all of those. 1965 was used on the clad coins that were made in that year. So any dime, half dollar or quarter with a date of 1964 is 90% silver.

Kennedy Half Dollars produced from 1965 through 1969 were made with a 40% silver content. By 1971 half dollars had been changed to copper-nickel clad as well.

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Regardless of rumors and myths, the only nickels that ever contained silver were the famous "war nickels" made during WWII. They were 35% silver because nickel was needed for the war effort. ALL other US nickels are made of a copper-nickel alloy.

Similarly there has never been a silver cent (penny). Many people mistake the steel cents also minted during WWII for silver coins, but they're simply made of zinc-coated steel.

Since 1971, the only US silver coins have been special issues sold to collectors and investors at a premium above their face value:

  • Special Bicentennial 40% silver quarters, halves, and dollars were made in 1975-76, and some standard Eisenhower dollars were minted in the same composition from 1971 to 1974.
  • In 1986 the U.S. once again started making silver "dollars" (Silver American Eagles) which are almost solid silver. However, although they have a face value of $1 and a bank can only give you the $1 for it, they trade at the price of 1 oz of silver bullion
  • In 1992 the Mint introduced "Prestige" proof sets containing a dime, quarter, and half dollar minted out of the traditional 90% silver alloy.

1964 was the last year for 90% silver coins. The Kennedy Half Dollar was struck in 40% silver from 1965-1969 and 1970 but the 1970 coin was not released for circulation.