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    90%, 40%, and 35% US Silver Coins

    Understanding 90%, 40%, and 35% US Silver Coins from JM Bullion

    One of the easiest ways to start investing in silver bullion or to expand your investment catalog without spending a lot of money is through the purchase of 90%, 40%, and 35% silver. The term “90%, 40%, and 35% silver” is a broad phrase used to describe circulation coinage that is heavily damaged or worn from use, but which still maintains its value based upon the weight and purity of silver within the coin. Learn a little more about 90%, 40%, and 35% silver now before you buy.

    Condition of 90%, 40%, and 35% Silver?

    These coins, like the modern quarters, dimes, and half-dollars in your pocket today, were once used for all manner of commercial transactions. These coins were never housed in protective plastic or sealed up in capsules. The original intent was not for investment or collection, but rather for settling commercial transactions and debts.

    As such, 90%, 40%, and 35% silver coins have signs of wear and tear on them. Others, based upon the design present on the obverse and reverse, may possess signs of attempted repair or cleaning to try and improve the value of the coin as a collectible piece. Regardless, 90%, 40%, and 35% silver coins showcase less luster in their finish and more damage to the design elements, surface areas, and edges than bullion coins which never entered circulation.

    Silver Content of 90%, 40%, and 35% Silver Coins

    As the percentage figures suggest, coins within our listings that start with 90%, 40%, or 35% have that representative amount of silver within the overall metallic content of the coins. However, it is important to understand the distinctions between the coins and dates of those coins that have these varying silver content levels.

    From the earliest issue of silver coins in the US, starting around 1795, the United States Mint offered denominations of half-dime, dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar. These are the only US coins that were issued with silver content. After early combinations with varying levels of silver purity, the US Mint settled early on with 90% silver content and a balance of 10% copper. The use of copper in the metallic makeup of the coins was meant to provide durability so the coins would withstand everyday handling in commercial transactions.

    The half-dime would go out of production in the early 19th century, but the US dime, quarter, half dollar, and dollar would go on to feature 90% silver content through 1964 for the dime, quarter, and half dollar, and 1935 for the dollar as that was the last year the Peace Dollar was issued.

    When it comes to 40% and 35% silver, the release of these coins was far more limited. 35% silver coins had the shortest and most narrow issue life. During World War II, nickel was a valuable metal in the war effort. As circulation US nickels had 75% copper and 25% nickel, the US Mint was instructed to find a way to remove nickel from production of the coins so it could be preserved and redirected to the war effort.

    The result was a 35% Silver US Nickel that has gone down in history as the War Nickel. Featuring the effigy of Thomas Jefferson on the obverse and his home at Monticello on the reverse, the War Nickel was issued from mid-1942 until the end of the war in 1945 with a new metallic composition of 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. These are the only US coins ever issued with 35% silver.

    As for 40% silver, these coins were likewise limited in denominations and date marks. The US half dollar was the first coin ever issued with 40% silver and the only one to reach circulation. The 1964 introduction of the Kennedy Half Dollar design was the one and only in that series with 90% silver. From 1965 to 1970, the US Mint continued to release the Kennedy Half Dollar with 40% silver content before transitioning the coin to the cupro-nickel alloy in 1971. The only other coin ever issued with 40% silver was the Eisenhower Dollar. Released from 1971 to 1978, the Eisenhower Dollar was the first silver dollar issued by the US Mint since 1935 and the last silver dollar issued. Only proofs of the coin were ever issued with 40% silver.

    Examples of 90% Silver Coins

    If you’ve purchased silver coins before, you’re probably familiar with some of the designs you’ll find on 90% silver coins in our 90%, 40%, and 35% silver catalog. The following are some popular examples of 90% silver coins, though it is not a comprehensive list of all possible coins with this silver content:

    • Morgan Silver Dollar: Introduced in 1878, the Morgan Silver Dollar was designed by George T. Morgan. Mr. Morgan was British by birth, but came to the US as an apprentice engraver and designer for the US Mint at a time when it was difficult to find employment in the same role at the Royal Mint. The Morgan Silver Dollar was primarily in circulation from 1878 to 1904, with a partial year in 1921. The obverse includes Morgan’s left-profile portrait of Lady Liberty and the reverse features his version of the heraldic eagle.
    • Mercury Dimes: Designed in 1916 during a Golden Era of American coin design, the Mercury Dime was actually known as the Winged Liberty Dime. Created by Adolph A. Weinman, the vision of Liberty on the obverse included a winged cap. The vision of Liberty Weinman created resembled the Roman messenger god Mercury, hence the name. Mercury Dimes were in circulation from 1916 to early 1945.
    • Walking Liberty Half Dollars: The popular 50-cent piece was designed by Adolph A. Weinman in 1916, the same year as the Mercury Dime. This vision of Liberty showcased the nation’s drive toward a brighter future as Liberty walked toward the rising sun on the horizon in the obverse design. The Walking Liberty Half Dollar was in circulation from 1916 to 1947, and eventually succeeded by the Benjamin Franklin and John F. Kennedy designs.

    Examples of 40% Silver Coins

    Amid rising silver prices in the 1960s, the United States Mint took action to ensure it was still economically feasible to strike silver coins. Though many of the smaller denominations of US coins were already transitioning toward more durable metallic alloys for composition, it wasn’t until 1964 that 90% silver content in coins was done away with.

    As mentioned above, two coins featured 40% silver content and both were issued more recently in the 1960s and 1970s. The visuals on these coins include:

    • Kennedy Half Dollar: The design currently in use on the US Half Dollar, the Kennedy Half Dollar design features obverse and reverse designs from two US Mint Chief Engravers. The obverse bust of President John F. Kennedy in left-profile relief was created by Gilroy Roberts, the 9th Chief Engraver of the US Mint. The reverse image of a modified Great Seal of the United States was created by Frank Gasparro, the 10th Chief Engraver of the United States Mint.
    • Eisenhower Dollar: Only available in 40% silver for a few years in the 1970s, the images on the Eisenhower Silver Dollar include an obverse design of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in left-profile relief, with a depiction of an American bald eagle landing on the moon in the reverse. Both designs on this coin come from Frank Gasparro.

    Examples of 35% Silver Coin Designs

    As mentioned earlier, the only coin in American history ever issued with 35% silver content was the War Nickel, the common name used for the Jefferson Nickels issued at the height of World War II between mid-1942 and 1945. The coin had the iconic designs that you still see modified versions of on the modern nickel. These designs include:

    • The obverse features a left-profile bust of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States. The design is based on a sculpting of Jefferson completed by Jean-Antoine Houdon. On the reverse is a depiction of Monticello, the home of Jefferson in his native Virginia.

    Why Buy 90%, 40%, and 35% Silver?

    90%, 40%, and 35% silver is a great buy for several types of investors. If you’re just starting out as an investor, 90%, 40%, and 35% silver offers a very affordable starting point. If you already invest in major silver bullion coins, but want to add bulk amounts of silver at a more affordable pricing point, this type of silver is also a good option. The bottom line is that 90%, 40%, and 35% silver has a more affordable pricing point compared to the spot price of silver than modern bullion and proof coins.

    Purchasing Silver from JM Bullion

    We encourage JM Bullion customers with questions about 90%, 40%, and 35% silver to reach out to us at 800-276-6508 with questions. You can also connect with us online through our live chat and email address features.