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Silver decline makes me think of quarters

Is the sagging price of silver becoming a sore point for anyone?

When I checked the Kitco website this morning, silver was trading for $14.46 a troy ounce.

This is down from roughly $48 in April 2011.

At today’s price, silver has now declined 70 percent from its most recent peak if you use the standard rounding convention for numerals after the decimal point.

If you have a mind to minimize the blow psychologically, you can write the decline as 69.875 percent.

This put me in the mood to see what this does to the value of the silver content of the standard 90-percent silver coins that I spent time pulling out of change in the late 1960s.

The standard convention in the numismatic business for many years is that a $1,000 face value bag contains 715 ounces of silver.

If all of the coins are uncirculated, it would be 723 ounces of silver, but somehow the 715 figure was adopted as the average to account for wear and to speed up transactions and avoid the necessity of weighing every single coin.

Using that 715 convention, $1 face value of dimes, quarters or halves would contain .715 ounce of silver.

At $14.46 an ounce multiplied by the .715, the value of the silver in $1 face value of coins works out to 10.3389 times face value.

For dollar terms all you do is put the dollar sign on it at $10.3389. That makes a dime worth slightly more than a dollar.

I went to the APMEX website to see what might be available for sale.

I went to the Washington quarter prices. After all, I think of them as absolutely common.

I found listings for $500 bags and $100 bags. The $1,000 bag is probably just too large these days to be called a standard.

The $500 bag was out of stock.

A $100 face value bag was priced at $1,432.86.

At that price, the markup over silver melt value works out to be 38.6 percent.

Markup for 100 2015 silver Eagles was 27.6 percent. Who would have thought junk Washington quarters would ever be more expensive than current year silver American Eagles?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

• There is more basic information like this available in Coin Collecting 101.