Several popular investment newsletter writers recommend that investors buy silver bars and “junk silver coins” as a hedge against economic & monetary uncertainty. Buying kilo bars of silver in Australia is easy enough – you just need to get in touch with the Perth Mint or the bullion dealer in your local Yellow Pages to get as many as you want. But many Australians have no idea what “junk silver coins” are, whether we have them in Australia and where can buy them.
“Junk silver coins” is a term used in North America to refer to bulk quantities of silver coins that were actually used as legal tender in the US prior to 1965, and are now traded in bulk for their silver value. The “junk” part of the name refers to the fact that these coins don't have any numismatic or collector value.
US dimes; quarters; dollars and half dollars struck before 1965 have a 90% pure silver content – many investors prefer buying silver this way because it's in a form that they know and trust. We obviously have never used dimes or quarters here in Australia – so what did we have? There are 3 basic types of “junk” silver coins here in Australia:
Pre silver. This term refers to the Imperial silver coins (threepences, sixpences shillings and florins) that were issued in Australia between 1910 and 1945. These coins were made with 92.50% (Sterling) silver - 1910 is the earliest date because that was the first year that the Australian Commonwealth Government issued silver coins. 1945 is the final date because the Commonwealth Government reduced the percentage of silver in Australian coins to 50% from 1946 onwards.
Post silver. This term refers to the Imperial silver coins (threepences, sixpences shillings and florins) that were issued in Australia between 1946 and 1964. These coins were made with 50.00% silver - 1946 is the earliest date because any Australian silver coins produced prior to that date have 92.50% silver in them, 1964 is the final date because that was the final year coins were produced before the introduction of decimal currency in 1966.
Rounds. This term refers to the round Australian 50¢ piece struck (only) during 1966 they were made with 80% silver.
Pre silver and post silver coins are generally sold in small plastic bank change bags containing $10 face value in each bag. This can be a little difficult for the novice buyer to come to terms with initially, this table will help:
|Coin||Equivalent Decimal Face Value||Gross Weight|
|Florin / 2 Shillings||20¢||11.31g|
Using the figures above and some simple mathematics, you'll be able to see that there's basically $17.70 in face value of pre & post silver coins per kilo. That means that a $10 bag of pre silver coins contains approximately 523g pure silver, while a $10 bag of post silver coins contains approximately 283g pure silver.
Round 50¢ coins are generally sold in small plastic bank change bags containing 50 coins per bag. Each coin weighs 13.28g, which means that each bag contains 531.20g in pure silver.
Just which type of “junk silver” coins you buy will depend entirely on your own personal preferences – some folks prefer the round because they are uniform in size and are pretty simple to calculate. Others prefer pre silver bags because they contain a range of sizes, and have a relatively high purity. Others still will prefer the $10 bags of post silver coins, because they're getting more coins per dollar. Just which you buy is entirely up to you – keep in mind that the best portfolio / holding of junk silver coins contains a wide range of coins, and not just one type.
At Sterling & Currency, we handle all three major types of coin and much more. We generally don't advertise it on our website due to the volatility in prices that the precious metals have, but can readily quote you availability and pricing on anything that you're after. if you're interested in acquiring some junk silver, don't hesitate to contact us either via telephone or email – our contact details can be found on the “Contact Us” page.