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Old 06-06-2012, 01:49 PM   #1
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Another dumb-ass "newbie" question

Is silver coinage pure silver? Like, is a Mercury dime or a Morgan silver dollar pure silver? I'm not talking about the clad coinage from '64 on, just the silver ones.
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:01 PM   #2
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Junk silver is generally 90% silver, with the exception being wartime nickles which are 35% silver. Mercs, Morgans, etc., are all 90% silver.

Kennedy Halfs, 1965-1970 are 40%.

True sterling silver (if you are into junk, non-coinage) is 92.5%...

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Last edited by ADK; 06-06-2012 at 02:02 PM. Reason: Added info
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:02 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Mark View Post:
Is silver coinage pure silver? Like, is a Mercury dime or a Morgan silver dollar pure silver? I'm not talking about the clad coinage from '64 on, just the silver ones.
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Purity depends on the coin. Morgans and Mercurys are 90%, while American Silver Eagles are 99.9% silver.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silver_coin

http://www.certifiedmint.com/silver.htm
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:02 PM   #4
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You will probably like this...

http://www.coinflation.com/
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:11 PM   #5
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Mark, I have American Silver Eagles as my choice. YES, they carry a higher premium, but, that is the collection route I have taken.

If ALL you care about is the maximum amount of silver you can get for your $$$, then I believe above comments are correct: "junk silver" (circulated pre-1965 silver coins).
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:57 PM   #6
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Thanks guys!
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:33 PM   #7
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BTW - I always print out a copy of the prices shows at
http://www.coinflation.com/ and throw it in my pocket before going to the LCS, just in case there is some junk silver I wasn't targeting (I like Morgans for junk silver... just personal preference)

But, then, at least I have some price guidance at hand.

I don't have an i-phone or anything of the sort...

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Old 06-07-2012, 07:56 AM   #8
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Yeah I went home and found some '41-'44 nickles, two Mercury heads, and (haha) 4 silver certificates in some stuff I was keeping. Hey, that's 4 dollars toward the purchase of silver.
I'm really interested in the ingots. I don't care about the intrinsic value of coinage but I don't think I'll melt down what I have.
BTW, what's the best way to clean these silver coins? Comet and steel wool is leaving them dull looking. Fine grit emery cloth doesn't do much better.
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Old 06-07-2012, 08:26 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Mark View Post:
Yeah I went home and found some '41-'44 nickles, two Mercury heads, and (haha) 4 silver certificates in some stuff I was keeping. Hey, that's 4 dollars toward the purchase of silver.
I'm really interested in the ingots. I don't care about the intrinsic value of coinage but I don't think I'll melt down what I have.
BTW, what's the best way to clean these silver coins? Comet and steel wool is leaving them dull looking. Fine grit emery cloth doesn't do much better.
Mark maybe this will help. Just Google cleaning Silver and they have tons of methods.

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Old 06-07-2012, 09:14 AM   #10
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Y'know I was just kidding about the Comet, steel wool, and sandpaper. Grinding wheel's faster.
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:15 AM   #11
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Mark,

Do NOT clean your silver coins. I know you are not interested in numismatic value, but someone might be. Cleaning them will greatly degrade any value they might have over and above their melt value.

That's my advice anyway.
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Old 06-07-2012, 09:21 AM   #12
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Not to mention, changing silver sulfide (tarnish) on the coin into silver chloride in solution removes some silver from the system unless you're going to recover that from the solution separately.

Edit:
In a way, that tarnish proves the authenticity of the silver - not much else looks like that.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:05 PM   #13
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I know silver and gold do not oxidize, but for some weird reason I was thinking the tarnish was a form of oxidation. Well, I guess since those metals don't degrade, then the tarnish doesn't affect them.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:16 PM   #14
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They DO oxidize, else there'd be no such thing as electroplating them. Silver mostly goes with any sulfur around...Gold likes chlorine but then wants to stick to a nitrate ion (guess what aqua regia is made of?). They just oxidize slowly. Most of the time. Check the periodic table. The stuff on the right is "oxidizers" in the chemist sense (electronegative), and the stuff on the left is oxidizable more or less (electropositive), again in the chemist sense of oxidation being the giving up of electrons to an oxidizer that likes to get an extra one or two of them to complete a full orbital. The "noble" gases have complete orbitals, and are the only truly noble things there are...but in extreme conditions, you can get Xenon to bind with Flourine, kind of - the essence of an excimer UV laser in that case.

So, as I said, when you remove that tarnish, you're removing oxidized (in this case with sulfur) silver and putting it into solution in the cleaning junk. Unless you want to do a heck of a lot more chemistry to get that back, it's lost.

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Old 06-07-2012, 03:36 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
They DO oxidize, else there'd be no such thing as electroplating them. Silver mostly goes with any sulfur around...Gold likes chlorine but then wants to stick to a nitrate ion (guess what aqua regia is made of?). They just oxidize slowly. Most of the time. Check the periodic table. The stuff on the right is "oxidizers" in the chemist sense (electronegative), and the stuff on the left is oxidizable more or less (electropositive), again in the chemist sense of oxidation being the giving up of electrons to an oxidizer that likes to get an extra one or two of them to complete a full orbital. The "noble" gases have complete orbitals, and are the only truly noble things there are...but in extreme conditions, you can get Xenon to bind with Flourine, kind of - the essence of an excimer UV laser in that case.

So, as I said, when you remove that tarnish, you're removing oxidized (in this case with sulfur) silver and putting it into solution in the cleaning junk. Unless you want to do a heck of a lot more chemistry to get that back, it's lost.
Hmmm.... deja vu. Seems like CHM 101 all over again. Wish I'd have listened better.
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