How to Clean Junk Silver Coins

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How to Clean Junk Silver Coins

Coin collectors around the world invest time and resources in numismatology. Collecting coins is a hobby for many, a passion for some, and a lucrative investment option for others. Junk silver coins are an important part of many coin collections. Collectors who want to invest in small quantities of silver are particularly interested in junk silver coins. These coins include silver dollars, barber quarters, mercury dimes, Kennedy half dollars, and so on. Collectors should learn about junk silver coins and the common types of American junk silver coins. Knowing the steps required to clean them can make the collection more valuable.


Junk Silver Coins

Junk silver coins are all silver coins that have not numismatic value other than the value of silver metal in them. Collectors in United States, Australia, Canada, and United Kingdom use the term junk silver for these coins. The word junk defines the collectible value of such silver coins. Most junk silver coins contain 90 percent silver by weight and some contain 30 to 45 percent silver by weight. Many collectors are not interested in junk silver because people use them as everyday currency. They look for uncirculated junk silver coins. These uncirculated coins have both collectors' value and silver content value. Junk silver coins derive their value only from their silver content, and they have no rare or collectible value otherwise.

Investors often invest in precious metals such as gold and silver because they retain their value during times of economic instability. Junk silver is an easy and low cost investment option. It retains its face value irrespective of the value of silver. Most buyers consider dollars, half dollars and dimes as the best junk silver coins to collect.


How to Clean Junk Silver Coins

Collectors should never clean coins that have a collectible value greater than the value of the metal or alloy, because cleaning can cause microscopic abrasions on the coins and reduces their value. Experts call the tarnish on valuable coins "patina" or "toning." Buyers often clean circulated junk silver coins because the coins are worth as much as the value of silver content in them. Here are some ways to clean junk silver coins.

Clean the Tarnish

Lay a square piece of aluminum foil at the bottom of a stainless steel pan. Fill the pan with a few inches of water, and bring it to a boil. Turn off the burner when the water is boiling hot. Alternatively, lay aluminum foil in a plastic or any non-metallic container and pour boiling water into it. Add half a cup of baking soda and a tablespoon of salt into the pan or container. Put the coins into this solution on the foil in a single layer. All the tarnish from the coins disappears after the baking soda causes a chemical reaction that transfers the tarnish from the coin to the aluminum foil.

Clean the Grime

Take coins with grime deposits to the sink. Scrub each coin individually under the faucet with baking soda and water. Use thumb and fingers to rub the coins with baking soda paste. Use an old toothbrush with soft bristles to clear grime from the nooks. Baking soda is a very soft abrasive and causes no damage to the coins. Dry the coins with a towel or a soft jeweler's cloth.

Clean Stubborn Stains

Place the coins in a jar of liquid silver cleaner for fifteen minutes. Read instructions on the silver cleaner container and follow the time accordingly. Some collectors place the coins in lemon juice for an hour and rub them with fingers and a towel afterwards to clear the stains.


Common Junk Silver Coins

The U.S. Mint produced the most common junk silver coins before 1965. Many of these have 90 percent silver content. This is the list of the most common American junk silver coins, with their silver content and mint years.


Junk Silver Coins

Silver Content

Mint Years

Morgan Dollar

90 percent

1878 to 1904, 1921

Peace Dollar

90 percent

1921 to 1928, 1934 to 1935

Barber Half Dollar

90 percent

1892 to 1915

Walking Liberty Half Dollar

90 percent

1916 to 1947

Franklin Half Dollar

90 percent

1948 to 1963

Kennedy Half Dollar

90 percent

1964, 1965 to 1970

Barber Quarter

90 percent

1892 to 1915

Standing Liberty Quarter

90 percent

1916 to 1930

Washington Quarter

90 percent

1932, 1934 to 1964

Seated Liberty Dime

90 percent

1836 to 1891

Barber Dime

90 percent

1892 to 1916

Mercury Dime

90 percent

1916 to 1945

Roosevelt Dime

90 percent

1946 to 1964

War Nickel

35 percent

Mid-1942 to 1945


Collectors use troy ounces to measure the weight of silver and the spot price of silver is the price of a troy ounce of 99.9 percent pure silver.


How to Buy Junk Silver Coins on eBay

eBay offers a wide range of junk silver coins. To begin a search, enter the keywords "junk silver coins" in the search field. This search provides a varied range of different types of junk silver coins. Coins are available individually and in sets. Select from the different categories and subcategories to narrow down the search and find the exact coin or set of coins required. Materials to clean junk silver coins are also available. Enter the appropriate keywords to find them. Collectors like to collect junk silver coins for many reasons other than their collectible value. All information needed to keep the coins clean and shiny, makes the collection process fun. 

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