The 1960s were a turbulent time for both gold and silver. With an increasing amount of money printing by the US Federal Reserve, market prices for both gold and silver began to increase substantially. While governments were able to maintain gold’s official price somewhat during the ‘60s, silver was another story altogether. Successive governments had to stop minting their subsidiary coinage from silver as the silver content of the coins quickly eclipsed their face value. Perhaps nowhere was that more visible than in the United States.
By the early 1960s the value of the silver in US coins began to rise, and many Americans began to hoard or melt silver coins that now were worth less in circulation than they were melted down. There quickly became a shortage of circulating money and, despite the assurances of the US government that it would continue to mint coins with silver, base metal coinage was introduced in 1965. That hastened the disappearance of silver coins from the economy. But not every coin changed to base metal overnight.
The JFK half dollar was minted from 1965 to 1970 with a 40% silver content. That was to assure markets that still wanted to see silver coinage. Unfortunately, because of JFK’s popularity most consumers hoarded the half dollars as collector’s items. Half dollars never again circulated as they used to, and the silver half dollars largely ended up in cupboards and drawers around the country. The US Mint eventually threw in the towel and switched the half dollar’s composition to cupronickel in 1971.
In 1971 a new “silver” dollar was introduced, the Eisenhower dollar. That coin was struck in cupronickel for circulating issues, but in 40% silver for coins sold to collectors. The 40% silver version was minted from 1971 to 1974, and in 1976. Similarly, the Mint also minted the JFK half dollar in a 40% silver version for collectors to celebrate the 1976 bicentennial.
As the silver content of these coins is low, they are ineligible for investment through a silver IRA or precious metals IRA. But many of them still survive and may even be found in rolls of coins available from your bank. They’re not the most popular silver coins, but if you want a fun and easy source of silver, think about looking into US 40% silver coins.
- JFK Half Dollar: 11.50 g
- Eisenhower Dollar: 24.624 g
- JFK Half Dollar: 0.1479 troy oz.
- Eisenhower Dollar: 0.3162 troy oz.
- JFK Half Dollar: 30.6 mm
- Eisenhower Dollar: 38.1 mm
- JFK Half Dollar: 2.15 mm
- Eisenhower Dollar: 2.58 mm