How Much Recyclable Silver Can You Find in Coin Rolls from the Bank?

Some people who go looking for recyclable silver are applying this simple strategy...

They go to a bank, buy rolls of coins and then sort through them, looking for coins from certain years that contain silver. If they can find just one or two old silver coins, they can recycle them and make money. And the more coin rolls they buy, the more money they make.

Is there silver hiding in this pile of coins? 

Is there silver hiding in this pile of coins? 

At least, that’s the theory. But how well does it work, and can you really make money sitting at your kitchen table emptying out coin rolls, looking for those rare U.S coins that are made of silver?

Let’s explore that question in today’s post.

What Old Coins Contain Silver?

  • Kennedy half dollars that were minted between 1965 and 1969 contain 40% silver. Each of them weighs 12.5 grams, which means that each of them contains about 5 grams of silver, worth about $3.00 at current trading prices.
  • U.S. quarters that were minted before 1965 were made of 90% silver. Each of them weighs 6.25 grams, which means that just one of them contains about 5.6 grams of silver, worth about $3.35.
  • Nickels that were minted late in World War II, between 1942 and 1945, were made of alloys that contained up to 35% silver. Each of them weighs 5 grams, so each of them contains about 1.75 grams of silver, worth about $1.05.
  • Dimes made between 1946 and 1964 contained 90% silver. Each of them weighs 2.5 grams, so each of them contains about 2.25 grams of silver, worth about $1.49.

Please not that those are approximate figures, since older circulated coins can weigh less, due to wear. Also, coin collectors will tell you that the silver content of those coins can vary, depending on where they were minted and other factors.

But nonetheless, those figures are kind of exciting, right? How many times can you find common items like U.S. coins that are worth many times more than what you paid for them? But before you jump in your car and drive to your car to buy rolls of coins, let’s answer a few more questions.

How Many Silver Coins Will You Find in Bank Rolls?

That, of course, is the big question. And there is no answer, because there are so many variables. Where did the coins come from, for example? Did the bank roll them up last week, or five years ago? (The older the roll, the greater the possibility, in theory, that it will contain some older coins.)

But let’s consider two case studies.

Case Study One: I Try It Myself

I went to my bank and plunked down $10.00 for a roll of 40 quarters, $2.00 for a roll of 40 nickels, and $5.00 for a roll of 50 dimes. So my total investment was only $17.00. (The bank didn’t have any rolls of half dollars on hand. If I wanted them, I would have to put in a special order.)

I went to my kitchen table and spilled them out one roll at a time, and didn’t find a single coin that contained silver. Now, you can argue that I hadn’t lost any money, which is true. After all, I can still spend those coins by putting them in parking meters or buying lots of breath mints. And of course, I can roll them up again and take them back to the bank, no money lost. So in a sense, my experiment was a gamble, with any potential profits being pure gain. If I had a gambling problem, I would probably have gone back to the bank and bought more rolls. But I don’t, so I considered my experiment to be over.

Case Study Two: A Video of a Guy Trying It

Here’s a video of a guy who takes my experiment to higher levels, by combing through $500 worth of rolled quarters. How much money did he make? He found one 1992 Canadian coin that appeared to be made of silver, with a value still to be determined. So how did he do? Not great. But again, he didn’t lose any money.


There are many other videos on YouTube videos that show people unwrapping rolled coins. Some purport to show the discovery of silver coins. I’d encourage you to watch and draw your own conclusions.

How to Stack the Odds in Your Favor

One collector in a YouTube video buys coin rolls from a large number of banks in the hope that the rolls he buys from some banks will contain more silver coins than the norm. That strategy might work. Then there is the fact that if you can find rolls that were put together years ago – maybe find them in your Uncle Harry’s dresser drawer – your return could be greater.

So, Is It Worth a Try?

It could be. As is the case with any kind of gambling, you could just make a bet that pays off, and possibly handsomely. But I’d say that the odds are small, just like the odds of winning at roulette or blackjack at a casino table.

But if you find old coins that contain silver, give us a call at 800-426-2344, tell us about your find, and let us tell you how you can turn older silver coins into dollars.

Related Posts:

How to Get Top Dollar for Your Coin Collection 
How to Turn Big Profits by Recycling Old Quarters 
Metal Detector User Finds 5,200 Ancient Silver Coins 
Four Videos that Can Help You Discover New Sources of Recyclable Silver