How to Tell if a Coin is Silver or Clad

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Written By Natasha Jones
I'm Natasha Jones, an avid collector of coins, stamps, and paper money.My passion drives me to seek unique finds, from antique shops to international exchanges.I enjoy connecting with fellow collectors through forums and meet-ups, sharing discoveries and insights.

In coin collecting, there are silver and clad coins; identifying them can sometimes be tricky. How to tell if a coin is silver or clad? In this article, we’ll look at their differences and how to distinguish them! What are we waiting for? Let’s jump in!

What are Clad Coins?


So, a clad coin is a coin that has more than one layer of metal in it. Well, you see, the majority of present-day American clad coins are comprised of a center made entirely of copper, surrounded by outer layers composed of a nickel-copper blend that resembles silver. The U.S. Quarter and Half Dollar are examples of this clad coin. The Sacagawea Dollar and the Presidential Dollars, also known as the “golden dollar” coins, are clad. They are composed of pure copper inside, with clad layers of zinc, manganese, and nickel.

What are Silver Coins?


Silver coins are made of pure silver. They have a higher melting point than clad coins and are usually heavier than clad coins by 1 gram. Therefore, the coin’s weight can tell you if it is silver; if the coin weighs more than 28 grams, it is likely to be pure silver. However, some people use other methods to determine whether or not their coin is genuine.

How to Tell if a Coin is Silver or Clad?


The main difference between clad and silver coins is the value of the metal. There are many different types of coins, but most fall into two categories: those made with precious metals like gold or silver and those made with base metals like copper. A silver coin is made with precious metal, while a clad coin has less valuable material.

There are three layers to a typical clad coin: an outer layer that contains 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel; an inner core composed of pure copper; and finally, an inner core that contains 90 percent copper and 10 percent zinc. This mixture makes these coins durable enough to circulate while still being cheaper than an actual non-clad “silver” coin—thus worth less money!

Which is More Valuable Between, a Clad Coin and a Silver Coin?

If you have a silver coin and a clad coin, which is more valuable? The answer to this question depends on several factors. 

  • First, you should consider that the older the coin is, the more valuable it will be. 
  • Second, check for imperfections in your coins; if none are, they are likely worth less than one without problems. 
  • Thirdly, if you have an uncirculated or proof version of these coins, they will have more value than circulated ones because they are made from higher-quality materials with no defects. The same goes for proof versions, though these may not be as valuable as uncirculated ones, depending on how old they are (older versions tend to be worth less). 
  • Finally, there’s one last thing: what type of metal do your coins contain? If it’s not silver, chances are good that your clad coins aren’t worth much!

Before you go…

Knowing the difference between a silver coin and a clad coin is essential. Not only will it help you make better investment decisions, but it can also save you money in the long run. In some cases, coins that look made of silver might be worth less than their face value because they are made from cheaper metals like copper or nickel. So don’t be fooled by appearances!

Check out my next article: “What Does .999 Silver Clad Mean?

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