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Coin and Paper Money Collecting/Foreign coins and precious metal



I'm looking to determine which of my foreign coins have precious metal content and/or potential melt value. I have thousands to sift through and research. I've separated them in to "gold" and "silver" piles but would like to reduce the silver one further still. (I'm pretty sure there would be no gold in the gold pile!).
They seem to be mostly run of the mill coins, and beyond face value for some (mostly the Canadian ones), I doubt there is much value beyond precious metal content.

I realize every country would have its own minting standards. But, for the purpose of determining silver content do you think it would be a good rule of thumb to dismiss any of these foreign coins minted from 1970 onward?

On another note, would you have any idea how to determine what an Asian coin may be? I have several with non-English characters but no name, value, or date. I doubt they have any silver content, but for curiosity sake is there any way to find out what these coins may be?

Thanks so much for your time and insight!    ~   Barb

Hi Barb,
I wouldn't rule out post-1970 coins, as some such as Mexican 10 and 20 peso coins even up to the early 90's had silver in them. Plus, many countries make commemorative coins in silver to this day.
I can certainly identify Asian coins for you from a picture, you can send pictures to me directly at if necessary.

Your best bet for determining which coins have silver/gold rather than just being silver or gold colored is to use something called a "magnetic slide". It's a relatively simple pool and the materials to make one are inexpensive. It works on the principle that gold and silver are not magnetic, but are electromagnetic. When they are being slid down the face of a magnet they do so very slowly even at a steep angle. Iron containing coins stick and don't slide, while other metals and alloys simply fall quickly.
Just keep in mind that copper coins will react the same as gold/silver, but they would not be in the pile of either silver or gold looking coins.

Youtube "magnetic slide" and you will get a presentation of one and instructions for buuilding it.

Thanks for the question! =)

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Dmitry Livshits


My specialty is world coins from the 18th to 20th centuries, primarily non-US foreign coins and related areas such as errors and exonumia (tokens, medals, etc.). I can answer questions relating to identification, grading, selling, preservation and evaluation of such items. In addition to catalog value, I can give you the practical market value and trends for specific types of coins. I will also take questions regarding counterfeits (both modern and antique) and on how to identify them. I am NOT knowledgeable in paper money/banknotes, ancient or "shipwreck" coins. Thank you.


Collector of world coins since early childhood. Access to a variety of auction records and reference material. You can also find me on Facebook.

A.S. in Psychology (2006), B.A. in Forensic Psychology (2008), M.A. in Forensic Psychology (2011).

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