Benton Coins & Jewelry, LLC

What about the purity of the Krugerrand, Eagle, 50 Peso, and Austrian 100 Coronae? Will they be worth less later since they’re not 24 karat?
Purity is largely irrelevant among gold and silver dealers. Coins and bars are bought and sold based on their weight, not their purity. Unless you’re going to melt the coins down, it’s just not an issue and doesn’t affect the price.

How can I tell if my coin is counterfeit?
Genuine coins have certain characteristics that counterfeit coins typically do not have.  For example, die erosion around a coin’s rim is a characteristic of a genuine coin.  Once you become familiar with the genuine characteristics of genuine coins it becomes easier to spot the forgeries.  Also, for coins that are rare, there are die diagnostics to look for when examining them.  If these diagnostics can be identified then the coin can be authenticated.  There are many good books on this subject.  The American Numismatic Association also offers a correspondence course as well as a summer seminar on counterfeit detection.  If you have any questions about a coin’s authenticity bring it to the shop and I will be happy to assist you.

Why do you recommend older-issue, foreign fractional gold coins instead of modern issues or American Eagle fractionals?
Modern issues like American Eagles, Maple Leaves, Philharmonics, and Nuggets include half, quarter, and tenth ounce coins: the smaller the coin, the higher the cost per ounce. With the smallest coins, premiums over the gold content approach 15%. That makes no economic sense because gold is gold. British sovereigns (containing 0.2354 troy ounce fine gold), French 20 francs (0.1867 oz.), Swiss 20 francs (0.1867 oz.), German 20 marks (0.2304 oz.), Netherlands 10 guilders (0.1947 oz.), the whole series of Mexican peso coins, and a number of other gold coins offer lower cost per ounce and good liquidity. Not recommended are gold coins so infrequently seen in this country that you will suffer a big discount when you sell them, such as Iranian pahlavis (0.2354 oz.) or Saudi guineas (0.2354 oz.). If you can’t sell them, they’re not a bargain.

Is it illegal to melt or destroy coins?
Usually it is not illegal to melt or destroy coins, but there are exceptions.  Currently there is a temporary ban on melting more than 200 cents or nickels.  Since the cost to manufacture a cent and nickel is more than the face value of the coin, this ban was put in place to prevent the shortage of these for general circulation.  Altering a coin is usually not illegal either.  However, it is illegal to alter a coin with the intent to defraud, for example by adding or removing a mint mark to make a coin appear to be more valuable.  

Contact us with any questions you may have that were not covered on this page; chances are that others have the same question!

What is US 90% silver coin and how do you buy/sell it?
90% silver coin is quarters, dimes, and half-dollars minted before 1965. (90% silver coin does not include silver dollars.) Everyone knows that 4 quarters = 1 dollar. In the same way, 4 quarters minted before 1965 = 1 face value dollar. A face value dollar is how we sell 90% silver coin. So, when you ask for the price of 90% silver we will say it costs, for example, $25.00 per face value dollar. A face value dollar is either 10 dimes, four quarters, or two half-dollars. A face value dollar contains .715 ounces of silver.

What about investing in silver rounds or bars?
These are simply one ounce, 99.9% pure silver rounds or bars made by various private refineries and are not just “blanks” of silver. They all have varying pictures because the companies that mint them have varying production runs using different designs. Regardless of the picture on their front and back, all silver rounds we sell state clearly  “1oz. silver, 99.9% pure (or .999 fine).” We sometimes recommend silver rounds instead of 90% silver coin because premiums (not our commission—the premium is the percentage over the spot price that you pay for a coin) can fluctuate for a variety of reasons.

Are silver coins melted to make bars?
Sometimes, but not generally.  Since 90% silver coins are already assayed as to the exact silver content, they are traded on the market and investors buy/sell/hold them like any other commodity.  Coins that are damaged such as bent, holed, burned, etc. may find their way into the melting pot in order to make a more palatable form of owning silver bullion, but most 90% silver coin remains coin.     

What is the difference between a troy ounce and a 'regular' ounce?

The standard weight measure for all precious metal is Troy ounces and pounds.  All legal tender silver, gold, and platinum coins are struck in troy ounce sizes, not Avoirdupois ( AVDP) ounces (which are used for coarse dry weights such as grain, flour, sugar, tea, etc.)
The term Avoirdupois was adapted from the French phrase “aveir de pois” or “aver de peis” – which roughly translates to mean “goods of weight.”  Precious metals, gems, and drugs use the Troy system. By the way, the Troy system is NOT named for the Ancient Greek city of Troy, but for Troyes, France – where they were first introduced.  Troy weights are also called Apothecary weights. 

Troy Ounces are LARGER than Avoirdupois Ounces.
1 Troy Ounce = 31.1034768 grams
1 Avoirdupois Ounce = 28.3495 grams
In other words, a 1 ounce silver coin is HEAVIER than an ounce of tea. 
Troy Pounds are SMALLER than Avoirdupois Pounds

12 Troy Ounces = 1 Troy Pound (which is 373.242 grams)
16 Avoirdupois Ounces = 1 Avoirdupois Pound (which is 453.592 grams)
In other words, a 1 Troy pound bag of silver coins is LIGHTER than a pound bag of rice. 

It's important to remember that most household scales weigh in Avoirdupois ounces only.
So if you place a pound of silver coins on your household scale, it will appear to only weigh .823 pounds.

In what years are half dollars silver?
Half dollars dated 1964 and earlier are 90% silver.  Those dated 1965 through 1970 are 40% silver.  Note that 1970 half dollars were minted only for mint and proof sets and not for general circulation.  In 1976 a 40% silver half dollar was minted for a special 3-piece mint and proof set.  Starting in 1992 the mint issued silver proof sets as well as the non-silver clad proof sets, so both clad and 90% silver half dollars exist from 1992 to present.  Both have the S-mintmark for San Francisco.  They can be easily distinguished from one another by color (the silver having a more white appearance) and by the absence of a copper line on the edge of the coin on the silver issue.     

Silver Eagles vs. Silver Rounds; which should I invest in?

The advantages of American Silver Eagles (ASE) is that they are highly recognizable, they are a government issued product, they are a coin so they have a denomination (One Dollar) and certain dates can grow in demand with collectors, increasing their value beyond their intrinsic silver value.  As a coin that is highly recognizable it's advantage is that it is more easily traded, even outside the US.  It also makes it more difficult to counterfeit since any inconsistencies would be readily apparent.  As a government product it's advantage is that minting tolerances are very strict and as a legal tender coin counterfeiting would bring more issues with the law to a would be counterfeiter than if just counterfeiting a silver round.  The disadvantage of ASE vs. silver rounds is that you will generally have to pay a couple dollars more per ounce of silver for the ASE, but you will likely get more for the Silver Eagles when you sell them than you will for the silver rounds.  ASE and Silver rounds/bars are both good ways to own silver and which one you add to your portfolio will depend on the premiums over spot at the time of purchase as well as other considerations such as those listed above.