Coin Silver

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Would-be silver collectors and gift buyers should take a little time to do research about the multiple silver standards of vintage silver pieces. For instance, coin silver typically contains less silver than sterling silver. Nonetheless, coin silver has solid historical significance.

Coin Silver: Yankee Ingenuity at Work

Coin silver, as a term, refers to American silver made from melted foreign coins. This type of silver was widely available from pre-Colonial times to the late 1800s. Coin silver made by smiths in the early 1800s will often feature "pure coin" or "coin silver" stamps.

Coin silver was widely used prior to the acceptance of the Sterling standard. Since it was made from melted coins, "coin silver" then contains as much silver as those coins once did. Coins from a wide variety of countries were used, including those from Europe and Mexico, all of which contained varying levels of silver. Nonetheless, coin silver is usually considered to be around 900 parts silver to 100 parts other metals. Sterling silver, on the other hand, is always 925 parts silver to 75 parts copper.

Many examples, though not all, will bear stamps which read "pure coin" or "coin silver." They may also contain the first initial and last name of the silversmith. Sometimes, too, the location of the smithy shop would also be included in the stamp. However, there are a multitude of coin silver pieces which contain no hallmarks or informational stamps whatsoever. Coin silver today is considered highly collectible, not only for its silver value, but also for its significance in American history.


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