World Silver Melt Guide

A guide to silver coins minted and circulated worldwide during the 19th and 20th Centuries

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Africa
The Americas & Caribbean
Asia & The Middle East
Europe
Oceania

A Brief History of Silver Coins

Societies around the world have utilized precious metals as a form of currency.

Silver was used as a coinage metal for thousands of years.

The ancient Greeks used the silver Drachma for trade as early as the 9th Century BC.

Their silver drachmas were popular trade coins.

Ancient Persians used silver coins between 612-330 BC.

Before 1797, even British pennies contained silver.

Silver coins are one of the oldest mass-produced forms of coinage.

The ancient city of Lydia in Turkey minted gold coins over 2500 under King Croesus.

For thousands of years gold and silver coins were in common circulation around the world.

The use of base metal in coins is a recent occurrence.

The United States introduced a cupronickel alloy for circulating coinage in 1965.

Canada stopped producing silver coins by 1968.

Some countries continue to use silver for commemorative and bullion coins. The purpose of these is for collector or investment markets and not for circulation.

Monetary systems developed around silver as a common unit of currency. Called the Silver Standard.

The Silver Standard is a monetary system where the standard economic unit is based on fixed weight of silver.

The silver standard was widespread from around 330 AD until the 19th century.

Explorers discovered large deposits of silver in Bolivia during the 16th Century.

This resulted in an international silver standard based on the Spanish Real. The Spanish Real was also known as "Pieces of Eight.

Silver real coins were used as the international trading currency for nearly four hundred years.

The silver standard began losing popularity throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.

Countries began adopting a Gold Standard, or a combined Gold-Silver Standard called bi-metalism.

The silver standard started to end in 1935 when China and Hong Kong moved to a gold standard.

Silver bullion coins with no collector value are often referred to as Junk Silver.

Junk Silver is a popular investment. Many people looking to hedge against currency inflation buy junk silver as a store of value in precious metals.

The value of junk silver is based on the weight and purity of the silver in each coin.

Canadian silver quarters circulating in the early 20th century were minted from sterling silver. Sterling Silver has a purity of .925/1.000 fineness.

Over time the purity of the alloy used to mint the coins was reduced. This is called debasement.

For Canadian coinage, first to .800 fineness in 1920. Then again to .500 fineness in 1967 and 1968.

Starting in 1969 all newly minted Canadian quarters for circulation contained no silver.

These quarters all have the same gross weight of 5.8319 grams.

The intrinsic value of each type varies based on the purity.

The majority of silver coins are no longer circulating. Most are of no interest to collectors.

These coins are worth much more than their face value because of their silver content.

"Junk Silver" is the name given to coins that contain silver but have no collector value.

This guide is the World Silver Melt Guide. We explore how each country around the world used silver as coinage. We track the value of each countries' junk silver.

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