There are many different ways to invest in silver, silver bullion of course being one, but there are others, and one of the most popular is in silver bullion coins. One of the questions often asked by investors is what is the difference between modern silver bullion coins, and those termed semi-numismatic or numismatic ( collectable to you and me!). The answer is very simple – modern bullion coins are bought for their investment grade silver only, whilst collectible coins are bought partly for their silver content and partly for rarity or collectability. By investment grade silver we mean between 0.95 and 0.9999 fineness. In simple terms this defines the purity, so a 0.99 means the coin is 99% pure silver. The value of a bullion coin is solely determined by the price of silver in the spot market, whereas the semi-numismatic and numismatic silver coins are priced according to their rarity or collectability.

Silver bullion coins provide a very stable market for both buyers and sellers, and their attraction lies in the fact they are easy to transport, are available in small denominations and are accepted throughout the world as a universal currency. Unlike gold bullion coins, silver coins tend to be minted in more limited sizes, and generally the 1 ounce is the standard size, although larger sizes are available, particularly in the Australian Kookaburra, which has four variations, the largest being a 1kilo coin! So if you are considering investing in silver and in particular silver bullion coins, which ones should you be considering ? The ones listed below would be my top three choices and all of these are pure silver, refined to 99 percent–sometimes even better. With a high amount of silver, (as silver is a soft metal), it’s a good idea to purchase proof coins rather than un-circulated, since proof coins retain their mint condition, whereas un-circulated can possibility have scuff and other marks on the coins. These scuff marks can devalue the coin. The proof sets usually come packaged in a special plastic case to protect the surface of the coins. This protection should not be removed as the case ensures the quality of the coin remains unchanged. A proof set will retain the value of the coin, as the case also serves as an authentication should the time ever comes to sell the coin. Simply put, a proof set proves the value of the coins. So what would be my top three for silver bullion coin investment – well here they are:

Silver Eagle One Dollar Coin

Silver Eagle One Dollar Coin

My first choice would have to be the American Silver Eagle coin ( shortened to Silver Eagles), first minted in 1986, and with a fineness of 0.9999, and the only silver bullion coin, whose weight, content and purity are guaranteed by the United States Government. The Eagle silver coin was first issued on the 24th November 1986 and was only struck in the one troy ounce weight, with a nominal face value of one US dollar.  Just like their gold cousins, the design for the American Silver Eagle was taken from the classic ” walking liberty” design of Adolph Weinman, with the reverse showing an heraldic eagle designed by John Mercanti, which carries an olive branch and arrows in it’s talons. In addition to issuing the standard one ounce coin, the US mint has also issued special versions of the coin since 1986, most notably the reverse proof coin issued in 2006 for the 20th anniversary, and the 1995 W proof silver eagle, of which only 30,125 were minted. This is one of the few silver bullion coins which can also be considered a numismatic or semi-numismatic coin, due to its rarity value. Before buying any coins, you must do your research and understand what you are buying and what the relative price should be. As an example, a 1994 silver eagle will be worth more than any other years due to the low numbers minted in that year – in 1994 only 4.2 million were minted, whereas in 1987, 11.4 million were produced. This is the sort of information that you will need to find for yourself before rushing in and buying the first coin you see on the internet, or offered to you by the dealer. Take your time and do your research. If you are a serious investor then consider buying the “green monster” which is 1000 silver eagles in 25 tubes of 40 coins each – an extremely effective and economic way to buy in bulk!

Canadian Maple Leaf Silver Coin

Canadian Maple Leaf Silver Coin

My second choice would be the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf, again a coin whose purity is 0.9999 and guaranteed by the Royal Canadian Mint. Following the success of the gold Maple Leaf bullion coins first introduced in 1979, the Canadian mint started to produce the one troy ounce Silver Maple Leaf in 1988 with a face value of $5. The first issues in 1988 and 1989 used the decimal portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, which until then had been used on UK decimal coinage, first introduced in 1971. From 1990 onwards, the portrait was changed to that used on British coins from 1985 to 1997. The reverse of course carries the Canadian national emblem, the maple leaf. As an investment, this is one of the best, simply because it has the lowest mint run of any North American bullion coin. If you are interested in the coin as a collectable, then there is one mint to look for in particular, and the year is 1998, during which the Royal Canadian Mint issued a very limited number of special edition Silver Maple Leaf coins. These $5 coins have a small privy mark of a ship, located on the reverse of the coin and just below the Maple Leaf design. These were issued to commemorate the 85th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and only 26,000 were ever produced.

Silver Kookaburra Coin

Silver Kookaburra Coin

My final choice would have to be the Australian Kookaburras of which the large bullion series silver coins are the world’s largest bullion coins. First produced in 1990 by The Perth Mint, the first mint of 300,000 coins was five times over subscribed, such was their demand, and is one of the few silver bullion coins to change its design each year, but which always retains an image of the Kookaburra on the reverse. The design on the obverse is that of Queen Elizabeth II designed by Ian Rank Broadley, and her portrait is encircled by her name, the name of the country and the denomination. The design is slightly unusual in that the coins have a slightly frosted appearance ( a security feature), but to me this simply adds to their beauty and design. Originally introduced as a one troy ounce in 1990, the mint added the 2 ounce, 10 ounce and 1 kilo silver coins in 1992, followed by a 0.5 ounce in 2002. As with the two coins above, the silver is investment grade at 0.9999 fineness. In 2009, the mint introduced their new Kooala silver coins, available in 0.5 ounce, 1 ounce and 10 ounce weights – perhaps these will be even more attractive that the Kookaburra series – we will have to wait and see, but from a design point of view they are just as beautiful!