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Silver coins are just that -- metallic currency containing a significant amount (usually greater than 50%) of silver. Up until the mid-1960's, Canadian and American coins both contained large amounts of silver. Dwindling silver supplies, rising prices and silvers usefulness in industrial applications caused both nations to eliminate silver from common currency. The public noticed, of course -- leading to the great coin shortage of the '60s caused in part by people hoarding silver coins.

Coins to watch out for:

Nickel is magnetic, silver is not -- keep this in mind when sorting through piles of loose change.

Canadian Coins:

Previous to 1967:
1967:
1968:

American Coins:

1964 and earlier:
1965 and onwards:

Sources:

USGS - Silver History & Significant Events:
http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/silver/880798.pdf
The Coin Site:
http://www.coinsite.com
Albern Coins on Canadian Coin Varieties:
http://www.canuck.com/~albern/variety.html

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