In the United States, all dimes, quarters, and half dollars minted in 1964 or earlier are made up of 90 percent silver. From 1965 on, dimes and quarters are made of a combination of nickel and copper, as are half dollars minted after 1970. It can be difficult to tell whether your coins are silver, especially if the coin has gone through a lot of wear. However, here are a few tips to help you figure it out.
Look for the Date
The easiest way to tell if the coin is silver is to find the date. If you can read the date and it falls within the time period when that coin was minted with 90 percent silver, it is silver. Any dime, quarter, or half dollar minted in 1964 or before is 90 percent silver. From 1965 on, dimes and quarters have been minted in a combination of nickel and copper. Half dollars minted after 1970 are also made of nickel and copper.
Examine the Edge
Another way to figure out if the coin is silver is to examine the edge of the coin. You can hold it up and look at it in the light. If you see a solid silver edge, the coin is most likely silver. Coins that are minted of nickel and copper are going to have a copper colored stripe on the edge. There is one coin, the Kennedy half dollar, which was minted from 1965 to 1970. This coin is 60 percent silver and it will not have a copper edge. The silver edge will have faint traces of copper but it will not be as obvious as the new coins.
Tap the Coin on Metal
If you tap a silver coin on a piece of metal, it will make a low dull clinking noise. Coins made with copper will have a louder sound. This is especially easy to do if you have a coin that you know is silver for reference. Either way, silver will sound different from copper when you tap it on a piece of metal.
Silver coins are more valuable than ordinary coins so it is good to know if you have one in your possession. If you can’t see the date due to wear and tear, try one of the other methods or take the coin to a bank to see if they can help you find out.