How do I know if my 1965 dime is silver? If you have a 1965 dime in your possession, you may be wondering if it contains any silver. In 1965, the United States Mint switched from a 90% silver composition to a copper and nickel-clad composition for dimes, so some 1965 dimes do contain silver while others do not.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Dimes dated 1965 that do NOT have any mint mark (no D or S mint mark) are 90% silver. 1965 dimes with a mint mark were struck in copper-nickel clad at the Denver (D) and San Francisco (S) Mints.
In this article, we’ll go into more detail on identifying 1965 silver dimes, looking at the history of coin composition changes, explanations of mint marks and differences between silver and clad dimes, and steps you can take to authenticate the silver content.
Background on 1965 Transitional Year for US Dime Composition
Pre-1965 90% Silver Composition
From 1946 to 1964, circulating dimes were composed of 90% silver and 10% copper (American Numismatic Association, 2023). This gave the coins a distinct bright white color and substantial heft. In the early 1960s, the intrinsic value of the silver in the coins began exceeding their face value as commodity prices rose (U.S. Mint, 2023).
This led to widespread hoarding and melting down of silver coinage.
The Coinage Act of 1965
To address this issue, the Coinage Act of 1965 was passed to eliminate silver from circulating U.S. coinage (U.S. Mint, 2023). Beginning in 1965, the Mint began producing copper-nickel-clad dimes without any silver.
However, during the transition in 1965, some dimes were still struck with silver at the Denver Mint until the new copper-nickel planchets were stockpiled and production fully switched over.
Part-Silver and Clad Versions Struck in 1965
This has led to two varieties of 1965 dimes:
- 90% silver – These “transitional” dimes were struck early in 1965 at the Denver Mint before the switchover to clad coinage. These rare silver dimes are highly valued by collectors and dealers.
- Copper-nickel clad – The majority of 1965 dimes have no silver and are solely made up of copper and nickel alloy. These are extremely common and only worth face value.
According to numismatic research firms like PCGS CoinFacts, approximately 40% of 1965-dated dimes contain 90% silver (PCGS CoinFacts, 2023). So out of every 10 1965 dimes, around 4 will be the earlier silver transitional version.
However, average people typically cannot discern between the two types without assessing weight and dimensions.
|90% silver, 10% copper
|Bright white color
|75% copper, 25% nickel
As the table shows, the silver 1965 dimes are heavier at 2.5g instead of 2.27g for clad versions. They also have a brighter white appearance compared to the silvery-clad dimes. If you have a 1965 dime that matches the silver variety, congratulations!
It is worth at least 20-30 times the face values for average circulated pieces.
To conclusively determine if your 1965 dime contains silver, you can get it professionally appraised by a third-party grading service like NGC or PCGS. Their experts will assess the coin’s dimensions, weight, composition, and mint marks to authenticate it and assign an accurate grade.
This will definitively prove whether you have a rare silver transitional 1965 dime!
Checking for Mint Marks on 1965 Dimes
What Mint Marks Signify
Mint marks indicate at which of the United States’ four coin manufacturing plants the dime was made – Philadelphia (no mint mark), Denver (D mint mark), San Francisco (S mint mark), or West Point (W mint mark since 1984).
Generally, coins struck at the main Philadelphia mint did not bear a mint mark, while the other branch mints placed their distinctive letter on each coin to denote its origin.
No Mint Mark Means Struck at Philadelphia
If your 1965 dime does not have a mint mark, it was produced at the Philadelphia Mint. As the main coin manufacturing facility, Philadelphia has always used the lack of mint marks to indicate coins made there. All 1965 dimes from Philadelphia are clad copper-nickel coins containing no silver.
You can easily check for a mint mark by looking above the central torch on the coin’s reverse side.
D and S Mint Marked Coins are Clad
Like their Philadelphia counterparts, all dimes in 1965 from Denver (D mint mark) and San Francisco (S mint mark) mints are clad copper-nickel coins – they contain zero silver. While earlier dimes did contain 90% silver, the U.S. Coinage Act of 1965 mandated that dimes transition to a clad composition.
So you can conclusively determine that any 1965 dime that exhibits a D or S is not silver regardless of its condition or appearance.
Authenticating Through Visual Inspection
Edge and Weight Differences
1965 dimes are composed of 90% silver, making them heavier than modern copper-nickel-clad dimes. Carefully weigh your 1965 dime on a precision scale, looking for a weight between 2.5 and 2.7 grams. Modern dimes weigh around 2.3 grams in comparison.
Additionally, silver dimes have visibly thicker edges when inspected side-by-side with clad dimes.
Color and ‘Ring’ Test
The silver in vintage dimes creates a brighter, whiter color and more of a “ring” when flipped as compared to clad dimes. The difference becomes clear when comparing a 1965 dime directly next to a modern dime.
You can also test the acoustic properties by lightly striking the dime with another small metal object, listening for the higher-pitched ringing sound that silver produces.
Condition and Details
Examine your 1965 dime closely under good lighting while using a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass if needed. Authentic silver dimes in decent condition should clearly show details like the feather tips on the wings and legs of the Roosevelt image as well as the finer details of the torch and olive branches. Severely worn, damaged, or counterfeit dimes will not show the same level of crisp detail.
It’s also important to inspect the coin’s rim for potential damage or tooling marks, which can be signs of counterfeiting. A real silver dime’s rim should be properly reeded with no visible cracks, gaps, or suspicious marks.
Professional Authentication Options
When looking to determine if your 1965 dime is the valuable silver version or not, turning to professional authentication services can provide definitive answers. Experts have the skills, tools, and experience to thoroughly inspect coins and identify key details that indicate silver versus clad versions from that transitional year in US minting.
Long-time coin dealers specialize in buying, selling, and evaluating coins like potentially silver 1960s dimes. Their day-to-day handling of these coins allows them to quickly identify silver versus clad with details like weight, dimensions, sonic signatures, and wear patterns.
Through professional associations like the American Numismatic Association, you can search for reputable dealers in your area to meet with in person for an assessment and valuation.
Third-Party Grading Services
As an alternative to local coin shops, national third-party grading services like PCGS, NGC, and ANACS authenticate and grade collectible coins for a fee. You ship your 1965 dime off to them, and their expert graders will determine if it is 90% silver or clad copper-nickel.
This authentication comes with a tamper-evident sonically-sealed case and official certification paperwork indicating the coin’s specifications and grade.
|Approx. Authentication Fee
Coin shows provide a great opportunity to get multiple expert opinions on whether your 1965 dime is 90% silver or clad copper nickel. You can walk around the bourse floor meeting with representatives of major grading services, specialized variety attribution services, respected dealers, and fellow knowledgeable collectors.
Getting several perspectives with help validate any findings on the coin’s authenticity and condition.
Upcoming noteworthy shows to consider attending include the Whitman Coin & Collectibles Expo in March and the huge ANA World’s Fair of Money in August. Check club sites like the American Numismatic Association and CoinShows.com for extensive coin show listings by state.
Additional Tips for Collecting and Selling
Storage and Handling Silver Coins
Properly storing and handling your silver coins is crucial to preserving their condition and value over time. Here are some tips from numismatic experts:
- Store coins in inert plastic holders or acid-free cardboard holders to prevent scratches and wear.
- Use cotton gloves when handling coins to prevent skin oils and dirt from damaging the surfaces.
- Keep coins in a cool, dark, stable environment with low humidity to prevent corrosion and toning.
- Do not clean coins yourself as this can drastically reduce value. Leave that to professional coin graders if needed.
Following these best practices allows your coin collection to retain its eye appeal, sharpness of details, and collector value for potential future resale.
Setting Appropriate Prices
Determining fair asking prices for your silver coins ensures you receive their full market value while finding buyers efficiently. Use these pricing tips as a silver coin seller:
- Research coin values using authoritative sites like the PCGS Price Guide or NGC Coin Explorer based on coin details like mintage, grade, scarcity, and demand.
- Account for special attributes like toning, die varieties, or exceptional strike sharpness that make a coin unique.
- Review recent auction records for your coin type as the ultimate proof of current market values.
- Price coins realistically according to their actual condition rather than what you wish they were.
- Consider getting highly valuable coins >$1,000 professionally appraised to ensure accurate valuations.
Periodically reassessing your asking prices allows you to maximize returns in an evolving market while staying competitive as a silver coin seller.
How Do I Know If My 1965 Dime Is Silver – Conclusion
We hope this guide gives you a good understanding of how to determine if your 1965 dime contains silver or not. Look closely for mint marks, perform visual inspections, get professional opinions, and follow best practices if you have a rare silver transitional dime.
Knowing the backstory and details will help ensure authenticity and preserve these coins’ numismatic value.