This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Time to clean out all the hiding places in which you have placed certain silver coins that you have taken for granted for many years. Current $40 silver puts these pieces in a new light.
Do you have any circulated Jefferson war nickels from the 1942-1945 period that you pulled out of circulation like I did in the 1960s?
When silver was $5 an ounce, they were worth just over 28 cents apiece – not enough to put the handful in a safe deposit box, or even bother to take them to a coin dealer to sell.
But now? War nickels are worth $2.25 each. It doesn’t take too many for the value to add up to a sum that makes tracking these down a worthy goal. Then you have to decide if you want to keep them or sell them.
How about trading them in? You can probably buy yourself a set of all 11 dates and mintmarks in MS-65 with the proceeds. You’d have been the envy of your bicycle riding chums in the neighborhood had you come up with that set in the circulation finds era. Now you will just have to settle for the warm glow of personal triumph – though you will then have to consider upgrading the rest of your Jefferson set.
How about those 40 percent silver half dollars of 1965-1969 that you couldn’t bear to let go? Sure, they were devalued from the 90 percent alloy of the 1964 coin, but you just went ahead and save a few anyway.
But where did you put them? At $5 silver, they were worth just under 74 cents each. That price wasn’t worth thinking too much about them or worrying about where the stash was.
Now the price is $5.92 apiece. Who would have dreamed of such a high price? We had the opportunity to do so in 1980, but anybody who blinked missed it.
What should you do with those coins now? I am sure you can figure out a good use for the profit to be generated by cashing them in with a friendly dealer buyer.
Then there are those 40 percent silver Eisenhower dollars. Congress authorized them as sort of a numismatic consolation prize when the copper-nickel clad coins were created for circulation.
The public ignored the clad coins. Collectors bought large numbers of the 40 percent silver versions and promptly lost money on the 1971-S pieces. The $3 price for the brilliant uncirculated version and $10 price for the proof version in the brown box for a time seemed money badly spent.
At $5 silver, for many years you couldn’t get your money out of the proof coins without taking a loss. Each coin contained just $1.58 worth of silver.
But now at $40 silver, the coins have $12.65 in metallic value. That almost makes purchasing those $3 coins look astute.
Sure, anyone who kept buying Ikes hit it big with the 1973 silver proof, because by then three-quarters of the demand had disappeared and the mintage dropped accordingly. With silver at $40, all silver dates are winners now.