How To Know When A U.S. Coin, Proof Set Or Mint Set Has 90%, 40% Or Clad Coins
90% Silver - 40% Silver Clad US Coins Identification
Definition: A Silver clad coin is best defined as a coin that has a copper core, but is sandwiched between two layers of silver, one on each side. Most people refer to these coins as silver-clad, copper planchets. Detailed information and images below.
Remember 40% clad Kennedy Halves and Eisenhower Dollars will have a clad layer, but it's sandwiched in between a layers of silver (Refer to text for silver clad dates).
90% Silver 1964 Only
Clad in 40% Silver 1965-70
Clad in 40% Silver 1976-S
What U.S. Coins Contain Silver?
All U.S. dimes, quarters, half dollars, and dollars, minted for circulation or in proof and mint sets, before 1965 has a metal content of 90% silver and 10% copper. In other words, coins minted from 1964 and back are silver coins, with the exception of copper cents, nickels and three cent nickels. In 1982, the U.S. Mint, begin minting 90% silver commemorative coins, and in 1995 they begin production of proof sets with 90% silver Kennedy Half Dollar, Washington Quarter, and Roosevelt dimes. 90% silver proof sets and commemorative coins are still being minted in the present, since 1995.
In 1942 the U.S. Mint changed the composition of the Jefferson Nickel to 56% copper, 35% ailver and 9% Manganese and these continued until 1945. All other nickels are NOT silver and ALL silver nickels dated 1942 through 1945 will have a large mint mark of either P, D, S above the Monticello.
Silver (90%) Proof sets, dated 1936-1964 and mint sets dated 1947-1964, are housed in either a white, light brown or yellow envelope with COA, from 1995-1998 silver proof sets are housed in a black box, from 1999-to present they're housed in a red and white box.
The U.S. Mint begin producing Silver (40% copper clad planchets) Special Mint Sets housed in a narrow blue box (1965-1967), proof sets in larger, and more modern, blue box (1968-1970), mint sets housed in a white envelope (1968-1970), but only the Kennedy Half Dollar is 40% silver. Also, the 40% silver clad, Kennedy Halves 1965-1969, were minted for circulation and can still be found in half dollar rolls from local banks. The 1970-D and 1970-S halves were only included in proof and mint sets in low mintages.
In 1971, the U.S. Mint, begin production of 40% silver clad Eisenhower Dollars in GSA (General Service Administration) holders in blue packs (called "Blue Ikes") and brown boxes (proofs issues called "Brown Ikes") and this continued until 1974.
After 1970 the U.S. Mint stopped producing silver coins, in proof and mint sets, and stopped minting "silver Ike Dollars" in 1974. However, in 1976 and as part of the United States Of America's Bicentennial Celebration, they begin minting 40% silver clad Eisenhower Dollars, Kennedy Halves and Washington Quarters dated 1776-S-1976-S. These issues were released as proof and mint sets containing all three coins and in a special package from the mint.
This can be a confusing area for some collectors since non-silver issues from 1976 are similar in appearance to the 40% silver clad issues, but the images and explanations below should clear up any confusion
A silver coin will weigh different than a clad coin. In example, a clad Washington Quarter is 88 grains (5.7 grams), but a silver Washington Quarter is 96.6 grains (6.3 grams). You need a postal scale or jewelers scales to weigh coins in grams. The Edge-Look at the edge of coins. A clad coin will have a noticeable copper layer on the edge while a silver coin will not have a 'layered' appearance.
In conclusion, once you have held, in hand, silver and clad coins together, it should become easier to distinguish between the two from the feel of the coins and sound of the two different metals clanking together (Silver coins have a distinct sound when it clanks against other coins, or on a counter top). It will also be apparent, from appearance alone, that silver coins have a particular patina compared to clad coins.
So the next time you get change from the banks, vending machine or a store clerk, you may discover a silver coin, and you will know how to tell the difference.