Have you ever heard about junk silver coins and are curious what they are? If so, you may have wondered if they are even worth collecting, given the fact they are referred to as “junk.”
Well, in fact, junk is largely a relative term. In numismatics, “junk” is in the eye of the beholder, as one person’s trash is another’s treasure.
A junk coin, usually, is a piece that is of a lower wear-based grade than considered “collectible” for a certain coin type. Say, for example, a Roosevelt dime in a grade of Very Good (VG) – much lower of a grade than the Extremely Fine to Uncirculated grades that most people will usually look for when collecting coins from the Roosevelt dime series.
Junk coins are sometimes referred to as cull coins, but, in fact, the two terms aren’t really synonymous. I’ll tell you why – take that example of the VG Roosevelt dime in the last paragraph. That coin, while it may have a lot of wear, may in fact be entirely problem-free (I.E., has no dents, bends, major scratches, and has not been cleaned). A cull coin, on the other hand, while considered junk by many numismatists, usually would display damage – a previous cleaning, holes, deep nicks, you name it.
Low Ball Coins – An Extreme Example Of Junk Coins
There are also low ball coins, or those which are so well worn that they sometimes are often only identifiable as to type, since the date may be completely worn away. Low ball coins usually grade Poor-1 or Fair-2 and are more often than not collected because their sheer amount of wear is novel in and of itself.
Rarely are low ball coins collected for the sake of the coin, though in some cases those collecting coins on a budget have turned to low ball coins when purchasing an extremely rare piece (such as an early large cent or silver dollar) just to fill holes in their collections.
Some coin collectors have even made it a goal to have the “worst” coin collection – which they build by putting together sets of low-ball coins. The Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) even recognizes low ball registry sets!
Collecting Junk Coins For Bullion Purposes
While junk coins may find homes with coin collectors, they are no strangers to those who buy coins for the sake of sheer investment. Buying junk silver coins is a popular way to invest in the precious metal. Junk silver coins are typically common-date, pre-1965 coins from the 20th century (like Standing Liberty quarters, Walking Liberty half dollars, Franklin half dollars, and Morgan and Peace silver dollars) that grade somewhere between Good and Fine.
Though not necessarily the most desirable examples of their types, they are normally decent, often-problem-free pieces that simply aren’t outstanding enough to take up space in a dealer’s cases or worth the cost of putting into 2 x 2 holders and placing into browser albums. Best of all, most junk silver coins are 90-percent silver, giving the investor a high volume of silver in each coin.
A lot of people turn to junk silver coins instead of American Silver Eagles because of the inherent flexibility that the various denominations and designs of the junk silver coins provide the buyer. Plus, if the person wants to sell their junk silver coins, they have a dual market, as both bullion investors and numismatists (who would be interested in the coins for filling holes in albums or type sets) pursue such coins. And, since they are legal tender and highly recognizable even to non-coin collectors, they could easily be spent (in an extreme emergency, of course!).
The only major downside to buying junk silver coins instead of bona fide silver bullion coins like American Silver Eagles is that junk silver coins cannot be held as part of your Individual Retirement Account (IRA)/Roth plan, whereas most bullion coins can.
If you have any questions about investing in silver bullion as part of your IRA/Roth plan, I recommend you speak to your financial advisor for further details so you can find out more information about how to optimize your investing strategy given your individual needs and goals.