How to Find Silver Coins: a Short Guide

September 12, 2018

How to find silver coins when looking at dimes

Silver coins come in all shapes and sizes. They also come up in all kinds of places, if you know where to look and how to be patient. Learning how to find silver coins or is a subset of “junk silver” collecting.

Junk silver is a colloquialism used to describe non-bullion silver coins of varying fineness that lacks collectible or other meaningful value beyond scrap metal content. In other words, old silver coins that aren't very rare.

So why do you want to find it? According to Numista, Simply put, a Canadian Silver Dollar has 23.3276 grams of silver in it. If silver is trading at CAD $20 per oz., that's roughly $15 in value for a dollar! Now, let's get to business. You rarely find silver dollar in change these days. Funny this is that in 2025, some lucky people will find a 1925 dime in their change. And that's a fact that goes around the globe.

Why learn how to find silver coins? Why not just buy them?

The premise behind finding silver coins is that it can be a lot more fun. It does not mean you cannot or should not buy them. On the other hand, if you are going to buy silver it may make more sense to look at different kinds of bullion (99.5% or more silver). And that can be a lot of fun, too. You can spend hours scrolling through silver coin distribution websites admiring coins like the Silver Maple Leaf and trying to find the best bargains.

On the other hand, you can even subscribe to silver coin collector’s magazines to get insider access to the numismatic world. This kind of insight can add eons of experience to valuing coins just on their mintage. Int hat respect, there is a lot more to learning about how to fin silver coins than having fun. It can be a much cheaper way to add silver to your portfolio. And don't forget you can always refine junk silver or trade it in for silver bars.

That means unlike certain hobbies such as stamp collecting you are unlikely to lose money over the long haul if you can buy at good prices. And that is exactly what learning how to find silver coins is meant to help you with. So to summarize learning how to find silver coins can be profitable. Now whether you are looking to collect or invest, one thing remains certain: you must know where to look for silver coins, and what to look out for.

So before buying silver, learn how to find silver coins and stick to these guidelines.

Here is a quick guide to help you in your search for the dazzling coinage:

How to find silver coins in your change.

Most people stumble upon a little bit of silver coinage in their change. Unfortunately, most of us do not know that it is silver until long after they have given it away. Big deal? Not really, since it is only a few dollars of lost value. Still, over a lifetime, that builds up. Canadian coins before 1967 and US coins before 1964 contained 80% silver.

Note that this applies to coins larger than a nickel after 1921 in Canada, and the same generally applies in the USA. Note that exceptions exist such as the War Nickel which substituted silver content, and the Eisenhower Silver Dollar with 40% silver content.

In many ways you can stop reading there. Equipped with that knowledge, look through your coins and sooner or later you will be surprised to find some silver. In the US you can even save time by looking for a copper rim around the coin. If learning how to find silver coins in your change is to prove useful you do need to come across silver coins. In other words, if you pay for everything with a credit card, this article may be of less value.

How to find silver coins at Flea Markets and Other Sales.

A rummage through your local flea market is always a good idea for someone looking to score silver coins. To make the most of your silver rummaging at garage sales, yard sales, or flea markets it will help to be intimately familiar with the dates. Essentially, you want pre-1967 Canadian coins and pre-1964 US coinage. Now, it may take a few return trips, but chances are you will find a rare silver coin from ages ago that a dealer will pay handsomely for.

What you need to remember is that there are likely to be other people looking for these deals. You are also going to have to wade through sellers who want to get more than "melt" value for their coins. One way to do this is to stick to garage sales and understand exactly how much you are willing to pay. Another is to visit non-traditional markets like eBay. Here you will find a breadth of sellers from the large dealers to mom-and-pop coins shops, and even some people just selling coin collections.

If you can find rolls of unexamined silver coinage, that's your most exciting best. While you are unlikely to buy these at face value, i.e. $0.25 for a quarter, you can find good deals. Long story short, you can do very well if you find a rare coin in one of those rolls. The only time you can buy at face value really is from a bank. In another article, we wrote about how to find silver coins at the bank.

Understand bullion when learning how to find silver coins.

One thing to keep in mind is that you are less likely to find silver bullion in your change, in flea markets, and elsewhere trading for less than the metal value. So adjust your expectations.  It’s important to know the distinction between silver makes. Silver bullion coins are those made with the highest grade silver possible. Depending on where they come from, it may be 99.5% to 99.99%.

Things get a little tricky because of the presence of sovereign silver bullion such as the US Silver Eagle. These government-minted coins trade with a legal face value. In the case of the Eagle, it happens to be one US dollar. Unlike these, silver rounds are produced by private mints without particular government affiliations. They are not legal tender or generally used as currency. However, if you are ever looking to invest in silver they offer a lower premium-over-spot and many investors choose to purchase these.

If you want to learn how to find silver coins that are also rare, beware low premiums.

Some dealers will offer lower premiums on silver coins with high mintages that are not less valuable. As an informed investor or collector you need to be aware of this. One way to avoid this trick is to look up coin mintages online of in references such as the Charlton Coin Guide.

Just like paying extra for government bullion, you can make the choice to buy silver coins that are not strictly junk. Where these coins bear a premium you may even be rewarded in the long-term. Still, there is really no reason to believe that you will be able to make back the price you paid over the intrinsic value of the metal.

Pay attention to errors and age when it comes to how to find silver coins

Mistakes are usually bad. Not always with coins. When you find silver coins at home, or elsewhere, look for mistakes made by the mint. These will often command significant premiums from the numismatic community. The rarer your mistake, the more valuable the coin. Mistakes happen because producing coins is coin will always involve a few errors. Sine each run has unique qualities, each run will have unique errors.

Mostly, mints weed these out in advance.  When they fail to, a silver coin with an off-metal error may become incredibly valuable. Still, it all depends on the type of error in question. Look for indents, capped dies, cuds, off-metal strikes, and even blank coins to get real collector and financial value.

This might go without saying, but should be said anyways. Much like fine wine, silver gains value with age. Does that mean all older coins are more valuable than newer coins? No. There are some beautiful new silver coins made in the past year that are worth buying. Ironically, they are often worth much less than old coins with deformities.

Talk to collectors and dealers on how to find silver coins

It’s always a good idea to talk to experts before committing to anything. Forums like redflagdeals.com have discussion on finding coins at or below spot. You can also spend time on eBay shopping for silver coins. Unfortunately as more people learn of these deals, markets will reduce the bargains you can find.  While you might find a surprising deal occasionally, the majority of junk silver you will find is overpriced. That's why it's important to stay patient and positive.

You can also talk to dealers like Global Bullion to learn about promotions on silver coins. These relationships can be particularly valuable if you are later looking to cash out. In any case, stay patient for more news on how to find silver coins. In the mean time you can always explore other silver ownership alternatives like silver bars.



Also in Blog

It's Time to Sell Your Gold and Buy Silver
It's Time to Sell Your Gold and Buy Silver

March 27, 2020

The coronavirus crisis is shattering our workday culture and battering Wall Street but it’s also influencing the precious-metals market in a very interesting way: the price of gold rose dramatically, just as silver’s price plunged. That means there is no better time to trade your gold for silver than right now.
Read More
Selling Your Silver Bullion
Visit Us if You're Interested in Selling Your Silver Bullion

December 22, 2019

At Global Bullion, we buy all sorts of precious metal bullion through our sister store Muzeum, including gold and silver. 

Read More
Is it Time to Sell Your Bullion to Global Bullion?
Is it Time to Sell Your Bullion to Global Bullion?

December 15, 2019

Do you have any gold or silver bullion saved, and are wondering whether or not now’s a good time to sell? 

Read More