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What Year Did The US Stop Making Silver Coins?

Sep 28, 2023 | Coins & Bullion, Silver Coins

The Evolution of U.S. Silver Coinage: Why Did We Stop Making Silver Half Dollars and Silver Dollars?

In this blog post, we delve into the history and evolution of silver coinage in the United States, with a particular focus on the silver half-dollar and the silver dollar. We will explore the Coinage Act of 1965 and how it dramatically changed the composition of U.S. coinage, transitioning from 90 percent silver to predominantly nickel and copper. This intriguing journey offers valuable insights into the world of numismatics and the strategic decisions that govern coin production. If you’re a coin collector, investor, or simply someone curious about the history of U.S. coinage, this article is a must-read. Stick around to unravel this piece of monetary history.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the historical transition in the U.S. from silver coinage to clad coins.
  • Discover why the U.S. stopped making silver half dollars and silver dollars.
  • Learn about the Coinage Act of 1965 and its impact on U.S. coinage.
  • Get to know the difference between a pawnshop and a trusted dealer like Accurate Precious Metals.
  • Discover how to purchase authentic precious metal coins from Accurate Precious Metals, irrespective of your location.

The Historical Background of U.S. Silver Coinage: When Did It Start?

The history of U.S. silver coinage dates back to the late 18th century, following the establishment of the United States Mint in 1792. Initially, the mint issued coins made of gold, silver, and copper. However, silver coins – such as the silver half dollar and silver dollar – rapidly gained popularity owing to their intrinsic value and the trust they inspired.

The silver dollar, in particular, played a crucial role in U.S. coinage. The most famous silver dollars – the Morgan Dollar and the Peace Dollar – were highly sought after, not just for their silver content but also for their artistic design. The Morgan Dollar, minted from 1878 to 1904 and again in 1921, and the Peace Dollar, minted from 1921 to 1935, were both made of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.

Why Was Silver Important in U.S. Coinage?

Silver has been an integral part of U.S. coinage for its aesthetic appeal, durability, and inherent value. It represented the nation’s wealth and stability, especially during times of economic uncertainty. Silver half dollars and silver dollars, due to their significant silver content, became symbols of American prosperity and progress.

Moreover, silver’s malleability and high conductivity made it a suitable material for coinage. It was easier to strike into coins than many other metals, and the resulting coins were hard-wearing and resistant to corrosion. These practical advantages, coupled with silver’s intrinsic value, made it the metal of choice for U.S. coins for a long time.

The Coinage Act of 1965: What Changed?

As the price of silver started to rise in the early 1960s, the intrinsic value of silver coins began to exceed their face value. This created a situation where it was more profitable to melt down the coins for their silver bullion content rather than use them as currency. Additionally, the U.S. was facing a coin shortage, largely because people were hoarding silver coins due to their increasing melt value. To combat this issue, the Coinage Act of 1965 was passed.

The Coinage Act of 1965 eliminated silver from the dime and the quarter, replacing it with a copper-nickel-clad composition. The silver half dollar’s silver content was reduced to 40 percent, surrounded by a 60 percent copper-nickel outer layer. The intent was to make coin hoarding and melting less attractive, thus keeping more coins in circulation.

The Gradual Elimination of Silver from U.S. Coinage

Following the Coinage Act of 1965, the silver content in U.S. coins continued to decrease. The Kennedy Half Dollar, which had been introduced in 1964, was minted with 90 percent silver only for its first year. From 1965 to 1970, the silver content was reduced to 40 percent, and from 1971 onwards, it was made entirely of copper nickel.

Similarly, the last circulating U.S. silver dollars were the Peace Dollars minted in 1935. Though commemorative and proof silver dollars have been produced since then for collectors, they have not been made for general circulation. Hence, the decision to stop making silver half dollars and silver dollars as they were traditionally known was driven by economic factors and the rising price of silver.

The Difference Between a Pawnshop and a Dealer Like Accurate Precious Metals

When it comes to buying and selling precious metal coins, it’s essential to differentiate between pawnshops and dealers. A pawnshop offers quick loans using your precious items as collateral. They often lack expertise in numismatics and are likely to offer you much less than your items’ worth.

On the other hand, a reputable dealer like Accurate Precious Metals has the knowledge and expertise to correctly appraise and price your items. We are not a pawnshop; instead, we focus on buying precious metals at rates that reflect their true market value. Our prices are often significantly better than those offered by pawnshops. We treat each item with the utmost care, whether you’re selling a single silver coin or an entire collection of gold and silver bullion.

How to Sell Your Precious Metal Coins to Accurate Precious Metals?

Located in Salem, Oregon, Accurate Precious Metals offers services to customers both local and far. You can mail in your gold, silver, diamonds, or jewelry to us, and we will treat your items with the utmost respect and expertise. You don’t have to be local to experience our excellent customer service and competitive prices. We have a straightforward and transparent process, ensuring you get the most out of your precious metal coins.

Selling your precious metal coins to Accurate Precious Metals is easy:

1. Contact Accurate Precious Metals to get a competitive quote. You can also visit them in person at 1855 Hawthorne Ave NE, Salem, OR 97301.
2. They will guide you on how to securely package and send your coins to them.
3. Accurate Precious Metals will inspect and verify the coins’ authenticity and condition.
4. Receive your payment promptly through your chosen method. If you are not satisfied with the quote, you can request a reconsideration, or they can safely return the coins to you.

Key Points to Remember:

  • The U.S. stopped making silver half dollars and silver dollars due to economic factors and the rising price of silver.
  • The Coinage Act of 1965 played a crucial role in this transition.
  • Accurate Precious Metals is not a pawnshop, but a reputable dealer offering fair prices for your precious metal coins.
  • You can mail in your gold, silver, diamonds, or jewelry to Accurate Precious Metals, no matter your location.


Q: What year did the US stop making silver coins?

A: The US stopped making silver coins for circulation in 1964.

Q: Why did the US stop making silver coins?

A: In 1964, the United States stopped making silver coins for circulation due to several reasons:

1. Rising Silver Prices: The price of silver began to increase significantly in the early 1960s, making it more expensive to produce silver coins. As a result, the silver content in coins started to exceed their face value, leading to the coins being worth more as metal than their monetary denomination.

2. Coin Shortage: There was a shortage of coins in circulation during the early 1960s. People were hoarding silver coins or melting them down for their silver content, causing a scarcity of coins in the economy.

3. Silver Act of 1963: The Silver Purchase Act of 1934, which required the U.S. government to purchase large quantities of silver for coin production, was repealed in 1963. This further contributed to the decision to stop using silver in coinage.

4. Transition to Copper-Nickel Alloy: To address the coin shortage and rising silver prices, the U.S. Mint decided to transition to a copper-nickel alloy for dimes and quarters starting in 1965. This change significantly reduced the silver content of these coins.

5. The End of the Silver Standard: In 1964, the United States abandoned the silver standard for its currency. Previously, U.S. paper currency was backed by a specific amount of silver held in reserve. Ending the silver standard meant that silver coins were no longer essential for currency backing.

As a result of these factors, the U.S. Mint ceased the production of silver coins for circulation in 1964, marking the end of the era of silver coins as regular currency in the United States. However, some special collector’s editions and commemorative coins continue to be made with silver content to this day.

Q: What are silver coins?

A: Silver coins are coins made from silver, which is a precious metal. They typically have a higher value than regular coins due to the silver content.

Q: What is a half dollar?

A: A half dollar is a coin denomination in the United States that is worth 50 cents. It used to be made of silver, but now it is made of a copper-nickel alloy.

Q: What was the use of silver in coinage?

A: In the past, silver was used to make coins because it was a valuable and widely accepted metal. It was used to create dimes and quarters, as well as larger denominations like half dollars and dollars.

Q: Why did the US stop making silver coins?

A: The US stopped making silver coins for circulation in 1964 due to a decrease in the silver supply and the rising price of silver. In an effort to conserve silver and reduce costs, the composition of coins was changed to a copper-nickel alloy.

Q: How much silver was in the half-dollar?

A: Half dollars minted prior to 1971 contained 90% silver and 10% copper. These coins, commonly referred to as “junk silver,” are sought after by collectors and investors for their silver content.

Q: What is the difference between a silver quarter and a regular quarter?

A: A silver quarter refers to a quarter that was minted prior to 1965 and contains 90% silver. Regular quarters, minted after 1965, do not contain any silver and are made of a copper-nickel alloy.

Q: How much silver is in a silver dime?

A: Silver dimes, also known as Mercury dimes or Roosevelt dimes minted before 1965, contain 90% silver and 10% copper. They have a total weight of 2.5 grams.

Q: Why are coins dated 1964 valuable?

A: Coins dated 1964 are valuable because they were the last coins produced by the US Mint that contained silver. These coins have a higher intrinsic value due to their silver content.

Q: Can I purchase silver coins from the US Mint?

A: The US Mint does not sell silver coins directly to the public. However, they do produce silver bullion coins like the American Silver Eagle, which can be purchased from authorized dealers.


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