Although often referred to as ‘junk silver,’ pre-1965 US dimes aren’t junk in the true sense of the word. Silver dimes struck by the United States Mint during that era contained 90% silver and their silver content makes them valuable from a melt value standpoint. However, they’re still colloquially called junk silver in the precious metals market.
Which US Dimes Have Silver In Them?
A 90% silver alloy was used to strike both Roosevelt and Mercury dimes that were struck before 1965. So, all Roosevelt and Mercury dimes from that era will have silver in them.
Here’s an easy checklist to identify them:
- Year of issue 1964 or before;
- Faint white luster, characteristic of silver;
- The image of either Young Liberty (popularly mistaken for the Roman God Mercury) or President Roosevelt.
How Much Silver Do These US Dimes Contain?
These popular coins were struck using an alloy of 90% silver and 10% copper. Let’s jump into some numbers to find exactly how much silver these dimes contain.
Every one of these coins weighs 2.5 grams or 0.088 troy ounces. So, the pure silver content in the aforementioned US dimes comes out to approximately 0.0723 troy ounces. This gives them a melt value of somewhere around $1.10 – $1.30 (USD), depending on the prices of silver at the time of course (current silver spot price: $14.53).
Mercury Dimes (1916 – 1945)
The Mercury dimes’ name has an interesting story behind it. When these coins were first circulated, the designs on their obverses were mistakenly identified as a rendition of the Roman God, Mercury. However, Adolph A. Weinman, the designer had simply portrayed a Young Lady Liberty in the image.
Nonetheless, due to this initial public misconception, the Mercury dime’s nickname stuck and is still addressed as such today.
These dimes were produced until 1945. The treasury then stopped production – replacing it with a brand-new design to honor the recently-deceased United States President Franklin Roosevelt.
Roosevelt Dimes (1946 – 1964)
The United States Mint began striking these dimes after 1946 and continued to do so until 1964. Since this release intended to honor the deceased President Franklin Roosevelt, it quickly gained popularity among the masses.
Although most collectors and investors today love these coins for their 90% silver content, some of the more pristine specimens are held in high regard and priced accordingly.
Silver Dime Future Values
We can’t really predict what these coins will be worth in the future. But what we can do is look at it from an unbiased perspective.
Since wear and tear can be a problem, we presume collectors and investors will have a harder time finding specimens in relatively good condition as the years go by. So, it stands to reason that the supply of dimes in good condition will go down eventually – making them more valuable in the long run.
Now, let’s assume the worst and the coins’ collectability doesn’t really increase. Both these US dimes contain 90% pure silver, making them a relatively safe bet and will add silver bullion to your precious metals portfolio; which is why most purchase 90% Silver Dimes in the first place.