Prepper Book Festival 12: Complete Guide to US Junk Silver Coins

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 3, 2019

You might think this is an unusual title for the Prepper Book Festival but given the keen interest many of you have in precious metals, I felt this book worthy of your attention.

The Complete Guide to US Junk Silver Coins by Brian Smith is a fascinating journey down the historical path of U.S. coinage. Not to be left out, it also includes a brief history of paper currency in the United States. Remember when paper currency was a “silver certificate” and not a Federal Reserve Note?  Back in the day, currency was backed by silver that the US government had on deposit, dollar per dollar.

Complete Guide to US Junk Silver Coins | Backdoor Survival

In this book you will find chapters on buying and selling junk silver as well as a chapter on ensuring you do not get ripped off during the purchase process  For those of you that are from other countries, there is a chapter on Canadian coinage as well as a chapter on bouillon silver coins that are minted by many different countries around the globe.  The book is very readable, and I appreciate that it is not a jumble technical jargon that takes a PhD to compehend.

Note:  “Junk silver” is a term to describe U.S. dimes, quarters, half dollars and other coins that were minted in 1964 and earlier.  These coins were composed of between 35% and 90% silver, while newer and current coins are composed of much cheaper base metals.

Getting back to history, the truly fascinating part of this book, for me, was the historical perspective.  Although I did not always like what I was reading, it was good to finally understand how we got to where we are in terms of coinage. There is even some humor that only a prepper will appreciate.  (More about that in “The Final Word”.)

Today I share an interview with Brian plus I have three copies up for grabs in a giveaway.

An Interview with Brian Smith, Author of The Complete Guide to U.S. Junk Silver Coins

Tell me about your book. What is it about?

My book, The Complete Guide to U.S. Junk Silver Coins, 2nd Edition, is all about junk silver coins.

“Junk silver” is a term to describe U.S. dimes, quarters, and half dollars that were minted in 1964 and earlier, as well as various other U.S. coins, because they are composed of between 35% and 90% silver, while newer and current coins are composed of the much cheaper base metals copper and nickel.

This comprehensive book covers everything you need to know about U.S. junk silver coins, from the history of how and why the Government made the switch away from silver, to the many benefits of holding junk silver today. In addition, it contains crucial information including: how wear and condition affect the silver content of coins, how to detect counterfeits, how to buy and sell junk silver coins wisely, and much, much more.

What type of research did you have to do while writing your book?

I did a lot of research, particularity for the history chapter of the book where I cover the background of how and why silver was removed from coinage in the 1960’s.

I spent a lot of time at libraries in the area looking at old newspaper articles on microfiche, and even worked with my library to borrow some microfiche from the Library of Congress. In addition, I did extensive research online and read several books on related topics.

How long did it take to write?

The first edition took a year to write, and the second edition took another year.

Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading your book?

I hope that readers of my book take away everything they need to know about all topics related to junk silver.

Additionally, I hope they learn that junk silver can be a fun and interesting investment, as well as a great way to diversify their savings and learn about the history of when the United States used to produce silver coinage.

Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

I work in the Information Technology field and am married with three children. When I’m not spending time with my family or writing, I love spending time outdoors.

As an author in the survival, prepping, self-sufficiency or homesteading niche, what are you personally preparing for?

I am preparing for both the good times and the bad times. I try to take a balanced approach and invest in items and skills that will help me in my day to day life, as well as an emergency situation.

What would be your first prep-step if you were just getting started?

It is easy to get started with junk silver. After reading the book, you’ll have all the information you need to know to buy it.

One of the great things about junk silver is you can get started for very little money, as a junk silver dime contains less than a tenth of an ounce of silver so they are very inexpensive. One of the best places to start is at a local coin store where you can easily buy 1964 and earlier dimes, quarters and halves. There are also many online silver dealers if you don’t have a coin store in your area.

What movie do you think gives the best portrayal of what could happen?

It’s not a movie (yet), but I loved the Lights Out book by David Crawford.

Do you have plans for another book?

I love writing, and I’m sure at some point in the future I will publish more books. Right now I have a couple of book ideas that I am considering, and hopefully will start on another book project soon.

The Giveaway

Brian has reserved three copies of his book in this newest Book Festival Giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific Tuesday with the winner notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article.  Please note that the winner must claim their book within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.

Note:  This giveaway is only open to individuals with a mailing address in the United States.

The Final Word

Remember I said their was a bit of humor in the book?  Brian talks about silver and coin hoarding.  I had no idea this had occurred but apparently there was a time in the early sixties when people started hoarding coins. This happened right about the time silver was being all but eliminated from coinage.

Brian tells the story of how Johnny Carson mentioned on his late-night TV show that there was a minor shortage of TP. The mere mention of this send hoards of people to the store to do just that, hoard TP.

Much the same thing happened with silver coins.  Word spread that silver content was being eliminated and that some people were hoarding the older coins, just in case. More hoarding occurred, setting off a vicious cycle.  I don’t know about the rest of it, but most preppers can relate to hoarding TP!

I really enjoyed this book and believe you will too.  Good luck in the giveaway,

For more information about the books in this latest book festival, visit Prepper Book Festival #12: The Best Books to Help You Prepare, Stay Healthy and Be Happy.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!

In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates  and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.


Spotlight:  .The Complete Guide to US Junk Silver Coins (2nd edition)

“Junk silver” is a term to describe U.S. dimes, quarters, and half dollars that were minted in 1964 and earlier, as well as various other U.S. coins, because they are composed of between 35% and 90% silver, while newer and current coins are composed of the much cheaper base metals copper and nickel.

This comprehensive book covers everything you need to know about U.S. junk silver coins, from the history of how and why the Government made the switch away from silver, to the many benefits of holding junk silver today. In addition, you’ll learn crucial information including: how wear and condition affect the silver content of coins, how to detect counterfeits, how to buy and sell junk silver coins wisely, and much, much more.

The 2nd edition has new and updated material throughout the book, as well as several new chapters, including information on Canadian junk silver coins, and U.S. base metal coinage.


Plus: The Preppers Guide to Food Storage

No list of books would be complete without my own book, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage.  The eBook print version is available.




Free Guide | Emergency Food Buyer's Guide

Best Food Types, Storage Methods and Exactly What to Buy

Download Now →

Updated Jul 3, 2019

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Free Guide | Emergency Food Buyer's GuideDownload Now →

51 Responses to “Prepper Book Festival 12: Complete Guide to US Junk Silver Coins”

  1. Although I try for a well-rounded approach. I guess the one thing would be food since I don’t live where I can garden conveniently.

  2. I don’t know if I have just ONE item, I tend to spread it out as equally as possible over the food storage. However, when I go “garaging”(garage sales) I gravitate to any yarn that seems to be at garage and estate sales. DaHubs says it’s my inner cat coming out but I think it’s because I can make things to wear and blankets to stay warm with it AND most garage sales will sell me the whole lot they may have very inexpensively. I mean who’s going to care if the coat or socks one may wear if SHTF is multi-colored, they’ll be warm, right?

  3. .22 LR cartridges, because they have a multitude of uses, and can be hard to find or – now – expensive.

  4. I am very interested to read your book. I’ve heard so much about investing in precious metals but don’t know how to begin. Thank you for writing it!

  5. I tend to hoard food more than anything, as I have children.

  6. I tend to stock up on ground coffee. It’s my weakness.

  7. I look for junk silver, would use this. Thanks

  8. I tend to hoard different types of food items since I am unable to grow/produce it on my own.

  9. Unsweetened Cocoa. 🙂

  10. I regret that I got rid of all myfathers change collection after he passed away

  11. I don’t let any old coin or paper bill pass me by! I’ve been collecting(hoarding) since I can remember along with stamps – but not much there anymore. Nowadays, I hoard supplies of candles, batteries, oil lamps and oil as well as little propane tanks – if the power goes out, I will have heat and lights.
    When shtf, I’ll have my silver and supplies to barter with. Would love this book! Thanks for all you do Gaye! Love your site!

  12. I just cant pass up a good price on ammo. Just received a shipment yesterday of 1000 rounds of 223

  13. I guess my one item would be ammo. Since it has gotten so expensive and with the federal government’s ability to limit availability, it does not go bad when stored properly, and the upcoming need to defend ourselves, I just feel better having more than enough.

  14. I don’t have one particular item that I hoard. In order to truly be prepared prepping items and knowledge need to be very diverse. It’s easy to fall into a trap of overloading on one item and the neglect everything else. If food is the focus, most load up on long term storable foods but then forget seeds as an example.

  15. I looked over my supply of food storage and found a rather surprising amount of good dark chocolate 🙂 I usually get some right after the holidays when it’s marked down and vacuum seal it in mason jars. Didn’t realize how much I had accumulated! Gotta go work on my inventory lists . . .

    • You can never have enough chocolate!

  16. Let’s see one item that I ‘hoard’ more than others? Guess it would have to be canned vegetables. Right now in our current location it is very difficult to have any type of garden so that is a concern.
    Junk Silver is not high on my list but I do collect coins and $2 bills. I am trying to get the various quarter series, the one dollar coins, and coins from each year our children/grandchildren were born. Not only does this give us a wide variety of coins for bartering but will be a great collection for the children as well. I am not working on the 100 items for bartering list that you published earlier. Talked to my hubby about that and he seemed to agree that those small items would be most valuable in a SHTF situation.
    Our personal SHTF may come up sooner than we anticipated with things heating up in the Philippines. Our son and his family are currently living there and may be in an emergency evac situation. That would add 3 more to our household and might require the use of some of our food stores for a bit while we get things settled more. Prepping can come in very handy in lots of situations.

  17. I’ve left a lot of comments. Still into coins.

  18. I guess I would answer this question in two ways. For my financial future, assuming there is no SHTF event that occurs between now and the time I retire, I’m setting aside silver and gold. So far, I’ve just been buying brilliant, uncirculated silver and gold eagles, but I would not be adverse to saving “junk” silver if it were cheaper. For a SHTF future where gold and silver might be worthless (except when recast as bullets), I’m setting aside freeze-dried food and ammunition.

  19. I tend to buy lots and lots of books.Everything from children’s books to ‘how to repurpose cloths’ – can’t forget coloring books – how to books – gardening books – I specifically like canning books and if they happen to have added rcipes using the ‘put up food’ all the better.

  20. Water….I know, weird thing to hoard, but it’s what I worry about the most

  21. I already have some “junk” silver, I hang onto it for easy portability of “real” money when/if the fiat currency failure rears its ugly head. I think it’s a wise move to have more than one form of “real” money available, it might be hard to trade gold or silver bullion for something like a loaf of bread, but a silver dime might work just fine.

  22. I totally agree with putting away (hoarding) some silver, not for the face value of the coin, but as a bartering tool. If our economy ever comes to a halt, for whatever reason, you will need a way to “buy” what you need. If our Dollar becomes worthless, Silver and/or Gold will still have an intrinsic value that can be relied upon. You have to understand the Pre-1964 difference in our coins to understand why the value of these coins is different. This book should contain a ton of useful information and get you up to speed on coin valuation. I haven’t read it, but if I win it, I will be delighted !!

  23. I would really love to win this book! I currently have more than a few containers with old coins in them. And would love this book!!

  24. I tend to collect books, and it’s hard to let go of them – they are interesting and informational. Thanks for the drawing.

  25. Yes, I admit it, I tend to accumulate a healthy supply of toilet paper as there’s no problem turning it over and it doesn’t go bad. (I remember the Johnny Carson incident and his profound sense of abashment at the inadvertent panic he caused, lol.) Along with aluminum foil and paper towels, it’s one of the things I’d miss the most If and When.

    I also keep a goodly supply of pet food for the cats, as much water as possible, and extra soap/cleaning products, just ’cause.

    Truth be told, I also hoard fabric. Yes, I’m a quilter which I tell people is just an excuse to buy MORE fabric (because if you don’t have any of THAT particular piece, that’s the only reason you to need to buy some, right?). I can relate to Gaye’s coloring hobby because it’s similar enough to what I do with my fabric–play with color and pattern to disengage the left brain and let the right brain just do it’s thing. It’s relaxing and enriching, and sometimes even leads to a quilt or wall hanging.

    And I would never refer to it as “junk” silver, since it’s potentially every bit as valuable than as its more pristine counterparts. Rare these days to check one’s change and find a silver dime or a wheat penny, but that doesn’t stop me from looking. Thanks for another great interview/book review.

  26. This is an area that I know nothing about. Oh, I know they should be pre- 1965, and that is the extent of my knowledge. I know I’m probably the only one out there this ignorant on the subject. This book would definitely help me become more knowledgeable. Another great choice. Thank you.

  27. I have probably over done it in the lighting area. I have tons of flashlights, batteries, 120 hour candles, solar lights, etc, etc.

  28. I’ve got a few “junk” coins and keep watching the market.

  29. Nice book, it would be a very helpful addition to my preps.

  30. I hoard flashlights and batteries, I’m always looking for a clearance bargain!
    I have some junk silver, but not allot, I have plenty of other barter items and skills, when the need arises.

  31. I hoard books! I love books! A kindle just isn’t the same!

  32. I have always loved looking through change looking for old coins

  33. Ammunition.

  34. I don’t know if there is really anything we tend to hoard. Mostly because we use most of what we store, so it comes in and goes out at about the same rate. Plus there is nothing I feel I have an over abundance of. So maybe my answer would be – everything I can think of because you never know what you might need! Lol

  35. Since our income is below poverty level we really can’t stock up on much of anything. We are not on food stamps or welfare. I don’t like to use the word “hoard.” It has a bad connotation applied to it. Possibly one could use stocking up or acquiring. This is no attack on you for using the word. It is a pet peeve of mine as it makes prepping sound badly and I thought now is an opportunity to rant. The word hoard is used correctly-A hidden accumulation. It’s just me.

  36. I collect informational books, chemistry, electrical engineering, physics, how to books. If my Kindle goes down with the electricity, I’ll still be able to read my books.

  37. I hoard books, reading was highly encouraged in my family and I had zero restrictions on reading as a kid. Between the library’s spring and fall book sales, yard/moving sales, book club members bringing boxes of free books to a good home, and husband reviewing books for an online magazine we have lots of books. We keep some and we donate several boxes of books to children’s charities and veteran’s groups.

  38. I hoard food.

  39. Be fascinated with learning more about old US and other silver coins – how to find them, best ways to keep them long term, values, and I hope more – thanks for this Gaye –

  40. be fascinated to learn more – finding, keeping, valuing, and generally hoarding for when needed . . .!

  41. I have extra ammo in .22LR and silver. I also keep various types of alcohol. Thinking of also doing cigars; people love their vices!!!

  42. “If only…”
    That is my greatest lamentation.
    If only:
    I’d have done without some things when younger I’d be better off today.
    If only I could have convinced my then-wife that we needed to put aside for the proverbial rainy day, things would be better today (although IF I had, I’m sure she would’ve taken at LEAST half even though she contributed nothing and made 30-50% more in wages than I did).
    Of only I would have started accumulating silver, both junk and otherwise, sooner than last year I would feel better.
    If ONLY the ground here was fertile instead of old, failed, farmland that seems to produce bumper crops of desert tumbleweeds instead of quality foods I could can, dehydrate and put up more than I can.
    The point is, you MUST start somewhere and start SOON, since time continues to march on and things don’t seem to be getting good better in the world or our own nation. But STARTING and being consistent is an absolutely MANDATORY need right NOW if one has any expectations of surviving what many see as dire days ahead.
    My one item I am most thankful for is my firearms and ability, plus stocks of components, to reload. If I were to be able to equate that to a farm-like contrast, I’d have a VERY fertile and productive farm and I’d never go hungry.
    But like most, I always feel as though I’m behind the power curve and eight ball, which gives me no confidence or comfort at all.
    I pray NONE of the bad inkling I fear are in the horizon come to fruition. If it doesnt, I won’t feel the least bit bad about “wasting” my time, energy.or financial resources to come along as far as I have.
    God Bless and Good Luck to ALL of us!

    • How extremely well put. I have so many coulda woulda shoulda’s in my life that I get a headache just thinking about them.

  43. TP and candles are my go to choice of stockpiling.

  44. Good idea for a reference book…. always up for any information on silver. I personally have a fondness for 80% silver Canadian dimes….

  45. Light sources: flashlights, candles, lanterns, solar lights, etc. Probably have more of these than any other prepping supplies.

  46. just a beginner here, still learning! thanks for the giveaway

  47. The thing I collect most is knowledge,

  48. I collect old coins. It would be helpful to have a book so that I could have more knowledge for my collecting. Thank you

  49. Food…


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