The composition of U.S. coins has changed considerably over the past few decades. Because of a growing worldwide silver shortage, the Coinage Act of 1965 authorized a change in the composition of dimes, quarters, and half-dollars, which had been 90 percent silver. Silver was eliminated from the dime and the quarter. The half-dollar's silver content was reduced to 40 percent and, after 1970, was eliminated altogether. This applies ONLY to coins minted for everyday use with the general public. All dollar coins dated 1971 and later are either cupronickel or brass.
Nickels have always been made from copper and nickel, except during WW2 when they contained a small amount of silver. There has never been a 90% silver nickel.
For circulating coinage:
-- Dimes and quarters were 90% silver until 1964, and clad copper (that is, no silver) from 1965 onwards.
-- Half dollars were 90% silver until 1964, 40% silver 1965-1970, and clad after that
-- Silver dollars were 90% silver through 1935 and not made again until 1971. There were some 40% silver ones made for collectors, but circulation dollars were made of clad copper-nickel until 1999. The "golden" dollars came along in 2000 - but they're brass, and contain neither silver nor gold.
The mint continues to make silver commemorative and bullion coins, as well as silver versions of dimes, quarters and half dollars, for collectors - these are sold at a premium to face value and are unlikely to ever be found in pocket change.
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