Some silver coins, which were minted in the United States through 1964, remain in circulation and are often spent as pocket change. But even if sold for scrap or melt price, the silver in the coins far outweighs their face value. Because most of these coins are not rare and lack any real collector value, they are worth far more when melted down for investors than they are as collectibles. Some silver investors trade in sealed bags of "junk" silver coins, at $1,000 face value per bag.
Check the dates to determine which of your coins are silver. Dimes, quarters and half dollars minted before 1965 are 90 percent silver. These coins also stand out because they do not have a copper core visible from the edge.
Count out your silver change. A face-value dollar's worth -- such as four quarters -- will carry slightly more than 0.7 ounces of pure silver.
Monitor the spot silver price, which may change daily. The listed price is for one troy ounce of silver. Most brokers will factor in a dealer's commission, so the spot price won't be the amount you get. You can get the spot silver price online, or in the business section of your newspaper.
Locate a buyer. Your best bet may be a reputable silver and gold broker, or a local coin shop.
Call the potential buyer to get a price quote, and call more than one to get the best rate.
Bring your coins to the broker or dealer. They will be counted and inspected.
Collect your money. Even for large transactions, most coin dealers and silver brokers prefer trading in cash.
Hold onto any uncirculated silver dollars minted through 1935. If in brand-new condition -- determined by the complete lack of wear on the coin, not by how shiny it is -- it may fetch much more than the scrap price.
If you know the buyer, you may be able to get your quote "locked in." This may be a hedge if the silver price drops before you cash the coins in. You will, however, forfeit any last-minute price gains.
Precious metals are exchanged in troy ounces, which are heavier than the more common avoirdupois weight. A pound contains 12 troy ounces, compared to 16 ounces avoirdupois per pound.
Be careful where you cash in your coins, and make sure you get a price that is close to the spot silver price.
Screen out any silver coins that may be more valuable than the scrap price -- particularly silver dollars. These coins have a high demand among collectors, particularly when in pristine condition.
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