What is a Clad Coin?
A clad coin is a coin that has multiple layers of metal in it. Most current U.S. clad coins consist of an inner core of pure copper, with outer layers of a nickel-copper alloy that looks like silver. Examples of this type of clad coin are the U.S. Quarter and Half Dollar.
What Is Silver Clad?
The coins in your pocket are more than likely “clad,” meaning they’re made out a few layers of different metals. However, it wasn’t always this way. From 1920 to 1964, U.S. coins were made from 90% silver. In 1964, the U.S. Mint decided that producing coins that were almost purely made of silver was no longer economically realistic and began producing clad coins, including some silver-clad coins. Read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coinage_Act_of_1965.
Why did the U.S. Mint Change from Silver to Clad? Coins were a critical part of the economy before credit cards and electronic transfers became common. Almost every purchase resulted in change in the form of coins. Rising consumer demand, skyrocketing silver prices and increased collector activity all contributed in the early 1960s to a massive coin shortage. Clad coins were the solution.
Since July 1967, the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks have been issuing clad dimes and quarters only and holding in inventory mixed silver and clad dimes and quarters as they normally flow back to the Federal Reserve Banks.
40% Silver Clad means that the coin has a metal core, usually copper, covered by a silver layer. The U.S. mint produced silver-clad Kennedy half dollars from 1965 to 1969 that are 40% silver. This is different from original silver coins produced before 1965, which boasted a 90% silver content. Many coin collectors seek silver-clad half dollars due to their rarity.
What Is the Difference Between Silver Clad and Clad?
Nearly all U.S. coins produced since 1970 are clad. Silver-colored coins, like dimes, nickels, and quarters, have a copper-nickel core with a nickel exterior. Pennies contain a mix of copper and zinc, while dollars contain copper, zinc, manganese, and brass. These coins don’t contain any silver, unlike silver-clad coins.
How Can I Tell the Difference Between Silver and Clad?
The easiest way to tell if a coin is silver clad is to examine its edges. Silver-clad coins minted between 1965 and 1969 have a lighter silver stripe with traces of copper on the edges. This is because these specific coins are made from 40% silver.
There are several differences between silver coins and clad coins, including:
- Coin Sound: When dropped or knocked, silver and clad coins make different noises. Silver coins tend to make a higher pitched noise, while clad coins have a duller sound when dropped.
- Coin Appearance: Clad coins tend to turn more of a copper color as they age, whereas silver coins will become tarnished when exposed to the elements.
- Coin Weight: Silver coins are much heavier than clad coins due to their high silver content.
- Coin Edges: Pure silver coins do not have a different color on their edges, whereas clad coins have a noticeable copper-toned core on their edges known as a “third edge.”
Thinking About Your Coin Collection Value?
The U.S. Mint has been issuing clad coins by the millions. Therefore, circulated examples are only worth face value while uncirculated coins are frequently available for a premium over face value.
Now that there are more than 35 years’ worth of clad non-precious metal coinage to be collected, people are beginning to consider these coins as collectible. To be clear, there are no great classic rarities in the dime, quarter and half dollar series from 1965 to today yet. However, as Federal Reserve Banks continue to remove “non-current” coins from circulation, there will be.
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