coins have been around for over 2,500 years—ever since coins were
invented by the ancient Greeks. Silver was used in United States
circulating coins from the time the first silver Half Disme (Half Dime)
was minted in 1792—purportedly made from Martha Washington’s
silverware—through 1964. The purity of U.S. silver coins has improved
over the years–.8924 fine (89.24% pure) from 1792-1837, .900 fine from
1837-1964 (and for commemoratives issued starting in 1982), and .999
fine for American Eagle Silver Dollars issued for collectors and investors beginning in 1986.
The purity of world silver coins varies dramatically—from .100 fine (Mexico Peso 1957-1969) to .9999 fine (Canada $5 Maple Leaf beginning in 1988 and $5 Wildlife Series issued from 2011–2013).
The general standard for world silver commemorative and bullion coins
is .999 fine, though there are some notable exceptions, like Great Britain’s 2 Pound Britannia coins, issued annually since 1998, which have a fineness of .958.
collectors and investors should not be terribly concerned about the
fineness of silver coins—after all the difference in value for a 1 troy
oz. coin with fineness of .999 vs. .9999 is less than 2 cents! The
important thing is that you should pay a fair price that is based on the
amount of silver in the coin plus any numismatic value. The person who
paid over 1.4 million dollars for a 1792 Half Disme at a January auction
really wasn’t concerned that his coin contained less than a dollar and a
half worth of silver!
The critical factor when buying silver coins or silver bullion,
is that you should purchase only from legitimate dealers who are
members and abide by the bylaws of the American Numismatic
Association—who guarantee that their offering are absolutely authentic
and as described. Beware of so-called bargains on online auctions, at
flea markets, etc. like China's silver panda coins that are merely silver-plated counterfeits.
you deal with Modern Coin Wholesale, you get a triple guarantee of
authenticity, since we are not only a life member of the American
Numismatic Association, but one of only about 250 select members of the
Professional Numismatists Guild (we abide by the PNG’s Collector’s Bill
of Rights) and nearly all of our offerings are also graded and
guaranteed authentic by one of the two leading coin certification
services (Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guaranty