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Not a bad place to start

The 40-page Coin Market price guide section of Numismatic News goes to press later today.

Rising prices of gold, silver and platinum are pushing up prices for all sorts of coins, from the scuzziest pre-1965 quarter to the finest of proofs.

Longtime readers might be interested to know that any silver coin is worth approximately 10 times face value. That makes an easy calculation. A dime is a dollar, a quarter $2.50 and a half dollar is $5. This is approximate because of the daily price fluctuation. At yesterday’s close of $13.711 per troy ounce, it actually works out to a fraction more than 9.91 times face.

The old Morgan and Peace silver dollars were not struck to the same weight standard as those other silver coins. They weigh in at 0.7734 troy ounces of actual silver weight. A dollar face value of the other coins adds up to 0.7234 troy ounces.

The dealer rule of thumb calls the 0.7234 number 0.715, or 715 ounces per $1,000 face value, to account for wear. That makes the multiple 9.8 times face value.

Whatever you want to call it, as high as silver is, collectors with memories of 1980 might consider silver a laggard this time around. The present price is far from the $50 peak while gold is less than $100 from its old peak of $850 a troy ounce.

Will silver catch up? It could spurt a little, but it must be remembered that a good deal of silver’s price in 1980 was due to an attempted corner of the market led by Nelson Bunker Hunt. Without that factor, the 1980 high might have been significantly lower, perhaps somewhere near where the price is now.

Ten times face value, though, is a nice floor to any collector’s worth. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be happy to get more. We’ll see.