Calculate U.S. Silver Coin Melt Values
1. How current is your silver price?
The default silver price is provide by Packetizer, Inc. and is updated daily. If you would like to use a different price, you may edit the price before calculating. To reset back to the default price, click the "clear" button.
2. I thought coin melting was illegal?
It depends on the coins.
In December 2006, the U.S. Mint issued a rule that generally prohibits the exportation, melting, or treatment of United States one-cent coins (pennies) and 5-cent coins (nickels). On April 10, 2007 the final rule was approved and became effective on April 16, 2007.
A violation of these restrictions can lead to a fine of up to $10,000, imprisonment of up to 5 years, and forfeiture of the subject coins or metal.
However, these rules have exceptions if you read the actual notice. One exception is that the war nickels of 1942-1945 are not banned from being melted. They are specifically excluded from the ruling.
So contrary to popular belief, it is legal to melt U.S. silver coins.
3. Why did the U.S. Mint ruling only restrict pennies and nickels from being melted?
The reason has to do with the harm any coin melting would have on the U.S. economy. There are very few silver coins still floating around in circulation, so melting these would have no overall impact on the U.S. economy.
However, with the metal content of the current penny and nickel either exceeding or having the potential to exceed their face value due to wildly fluctuating commodity prices, they are prime candidates for mass melting. This in turn creates the potential for a shortage of these coins. A shortage of these coins would have a harmful effect on the U.S. economy as merchants would not be able to give exact change in retail transactions. These types of coin shortages have happened in the past, particularly in the 19th century as silver and gold prices fluctuated.
Currently the dime and quarter have no restrictions as anyone melting them for their metal content would actually lose money as their face value exceeds the value of their metal content.
4. Can you tell me where I can find the actual rule regarding coin melting? I want to read it myself.
Yes, there are a couple of places you can read about the ruling. One is the U.S. Mint's press release concerning the final rule which can be found here. The other is the Federal Register Notice for the final rule which can be found here.
5. Where did you get the amount of silver in each coin for your calculations?
I use the net silver weight in troy ounces as published in The Official Red Book: A Guide of United States Coins. The net silver weight is multiplied by the number of coins you entered. This result is multiplied by the silver price and then rounded to the nearest penny.
6. Why do you lump coins types together, such as Morgan and Peace dollars?
If two types of coins contain the same amount of silver, there is no point in listing them separately as that only requires you to do extra typing.
7. Not all 1942 nickels have silver. How do you tell them apart?
The U.S. Mint made it easy to identify those with silver by placing an extra large mintmark above Monticello on the reverse. This also made it easier for them to pull the silver coins from circulation after the war ended and they returned to the pre-war composition.
The mintmark for non-silver nickels is located to the right of Monticello until 1968 when it was moved to the obverse.
8. Not all 1971-1976 Eisenhower dollars contain silver. How do you tell them apart?
First, if it doesn't have an "S" mintmark, it's not silver since all silver varieties were minted in San Francisco.
Second, if it has the "S" mintmark and is dated 1971, then it is silver as all San Francisco Ike dollars were silver that year.
Finally for 1972-1976 coins with the "S" mintmark, check the edge of the coin. Those that were copper-nickel clad should show a copper core that can be seen at the edge. If still in doubt, weigh the coins. The copper-nickel clad coins should weight 22.68 grams while the silver clad variety should weight 24.59 grams.
9. I am looking at a price guide that shows my coin is worth more than your calculation. Why?
The calculated value above only takes into consideration the value of the silver content of the coin. The price guide you are looking at probably shows a numismatic value. Numismatic values are determined by rarity, condition, and collector demand and can greatly exceed any value based on the metal content.
Before selling any coins based on metal value, it is generally a good idea to check a collector's price guide to make sure none of them have a greater numismatic value, especially for coins that appear to be uncirculated.
10. Are you willing to trade links with my website or blog?