Collecting Silver Coins: 10 Things You Need to Know
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the information being thrown at you in the bullion industry, you’re not alone. At one point or another, we’ve all been there. That’s why we created the Hero Bullion Academy, a resource perfect for people who are new to buying gold and silver bars, coins and rounds. The great news is that you don’t have to be an experienced bullion expert to buy your first silver coin with confidence. If you plan on collecting silver coins, there are quite a few things you need to know.
To start with, silver is an excellent choice for a first investment. While the price of silver has its ups and downs, the value charts for the precious metal have been consistently optimistic over the past decade or so. Collecting silver coins is also an affordable and rewarding pastime.
Collectors all over the world appreciate the intricate designs on popular silver coins, and the high silver purity of these collectables makes them excellent gifts, conversation pieces, or even heirlooms. We’ll cover the differences between silver and gold coins later in this guide, but one notable benefit to buying silver is that you don’t have to dump your whole savings to afford a beautiful new piece.
Do you have questions about collecting silver coins? We anticipate that new silver coin collectors will benefit the most from this introductory guide. However, even experienced collectors can always enjoy a refresher course in best collecting practices. Keep reading to learn ten of the most important things you need to know when collecting silver coins.
How Much Silver is in a Silver Coin?
Silver coins come in a variety of purities. If you plan on collecting silver coins, it might be helpful to develop an understanding of the main two terms used to define precious metal content in coins: fineness and purity. These terms functionally mean the same thing. Coin (and all bullion products) purity is usually described using decimals. For example, a coin with .999 fineness is made using 99.9% pure silver.
If your intention is to start collecting silver coins that were minted recently, you can generally expect purities of .999-.9999. Older coins are a bit different. U.S. coins minted and circulated before July 23rd, 1965 are made using 90% pure silver. Don’t let the purity drop fool you; some of these older coins can be worth thousands of dollars, depending on their rarity.
Where to Buy Silver Coins
We provide a more in-depth introduction to the best ways to buy silver in our article on the subject. But if you’re wondering where to begin collecting silver coins, the answer is pretty simple. Bullion collectors generally have four main options:
- Pawn shops.
- Local dealers.
- Online dealers.
Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. We generally suggest that new silver coin collectors avoid pawn shops. While it’s possible to find some great deals at the local pawn shop, new collectors might not have the knowledge necessary to avoid getting burned with a fake or counterfeit coin. Local dealers with a solid reputation can be a much better option, and these distributors give you the chance to deal directly with your sellers.
If you’re new to collecting silver coins, buying from an online distributor or directly from a mint might be a wise choice. Buying from the mint itself eliminates the risk of counterfeits or fraudulent coins, and the wide availability of reviews for online dealers makes it easy to evaluate a distributor’s long-term reputation.
Best Silver Coins to Collect
Collecting silver coins can be a rewarding and profitable hobby. Most new collectors are concerned with the ultimate question: what are the best silver coins to collect? Luckily, we’ve got you covered. There are several extremely popular silver coins available from Hero Bullion. Popular .999 fine silver coins include the Silver American Eagle, the Silver Canadian Maple, and the Austrian Silver Philharmonic Coin.
High purity mint coins aren’t the only type of silver coin products worth purchasing. Many collectors actually prefer circulated coins from the United States Mint. Prior to the passage of an anti-silver law in 1965, U.S. coins were regularly minted using 90% pure silver bullion. These coins can be purchased both circulated and uncirculated.
Special deals from certain Mints actually allow consumers to buy BU (Brilliant Uncirculated) editions of these popular coins. We have a deep appreciation for highly circulated 90% silver coins. They retain natural value because of their silver content, but these pieces also feature a wear that displays their impressive history.
Really, it’s hard to go wrong when it comes to high purity collectable silver coins. Your biggest concern should be to ensure that the coin you receive is as pure as it was advertised to be, and that your coins are properly certified from their original mint.
How to Store Silver Coins Safely
Each year, more and more investors turn to bullion as a way to secure their wealth. Silver coins are largely protected from the ups and downs of the financial markets. However, there is a significant risk to collecting silver coins: theft and damage.
There are no banks available to protect your coins like they protect your cash. New collectors often fail to realize just how easy it is to lose or damage gold and silver coins. How can you best protect your new investments? There are several strategies we recommend to people who are new to collecting silver coins and want to protect them.
First, you’ll want to store your silver coins in a place that is both cool and dry. Keep the coins away from abrasive substances, including aluminum foil, PVC plastics, and paper. We also recommend purchasing a completely airtight storage container specifically designed for coin collectors.
As well, if you plan on storing large amounts of silver at home, consider investing in a lockable safe. Safes should be large enough that potential thieves can’t just pick them up and carry them away. Combining good storage practices with top-notch security will keep the silver coins you collect as safe as possible.
How to Spot Fake Silver Coins
New investors interested in collecting silver coins should learn how to easily and quickly identify counterfeit coins. Every year, thousands of men and women fall victim to counterfeiting scams, and scammers continue to become more technically advanced each year. The best way to avoid getting scammed with a fake bullion piece is to carefully evaluate the company or mint you plan to purchase from. Reputable mints will provide you with a certification for your collectable silver coin to ensure its legitimacy.
Fake silver coins can be easily identified using a few different tests. The “ping” test is a solid option, but it requires dropping your precious coin onto a surface. This can result in damage.
Purchasing a magnifying glass for your coins may also be a good choice, as this will allow you to examine new shipments to ensure that the features of the coin align with what was promised. If you’re doing business with a smaller or non-reputable silver distributor, consider buying new coins instead of older ones. Because old silver coins use antiquated security technologies, they’re often easier to replicate by counterfeiters.
Silver Coin Spot Price
The price of a silver coin will depend on multiple factors. Generally, mints and bullion distributors will combine the spot price of silver with a certain “premium” to get the total cost of a coin. The premium covers the cost of manufacturing and includes a small profit for the distributor; premiums over spot are often higher for coins than for other types of bullion products.
The current spot price of silver bullion can be found on Hero Bullion’s website. This price changes daily, so you should check back frequently if you plan on collecting silver coins. Silver investors working on a budget might consider going for silver bars, which are far less expensive because of lower premiums over spot.
Popular Silver Coin Mints
Silver coins are one of the most popular product categories in the entire bullion industry. Because of this, you’ll find no shortage of government mints manufacturing and distributing silver coins. The United States Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint, the British Royal Mint, the Austrian Mint, the Perth Mint, and the Central Mint of China are all popular choices.
You might note that we said “government mints” above instead of public and private mints. This is because the term “silver coin” specifically applies to circular silver pieces minted by government-backed mints. Private mints also distribute their version of silver “coins,” but these products are generally known as “rounds.”
Silver Versus Gold Coins
While silver and gold coins are similar, there are a few major differences between these different investment vehicles. Both gold and silver coins have been used as common currency for thousands of years; even Ancient civilizations in Egypt and Rome used bullion coins to help facilitate trade and signal their vast wealth.
Gold coins are obviously more expensive than silver coins. Interestingly enough, silver coins often come with a higher premium over spot than gold coins. This is due to a few different reasons, but a big contributor is the increased historic volatility associated with silver bullion. Because prices for silver have fluctuated pretty wildly in the past, distributors make up for this with a higher premium cost.
Premiums on Silver Coins
Like we explained above, silver coin prices are calculated by adding a set premium to the spot price of a piece. The spot price of silver is constantly fluctuating. It is estimated that around 80-95% of a bullion item’s value comes from its spot price. This means that anywhere from 5-20% of a coin or bar’s price will be premium over spot. Silver coins actually have a higher premium than silver bars, gold coins, and gold bars.
Silver coin premiums are especially high right now because of increased demand for bullion products. During times of economic anxiety, purchases for gold, silver, and platinum have historically spiked. When you combine this with the current global shortage of silver, the result is an exceptionally high premium price on most silver products.
Buying Silver Coins with Hero Bullion
This isn’t exactly a fact that all people collecting silver coins need to know, and we certainly don’t want to weigh you down with the sales pitch for Hero Bullion. However, we offer an extensive selection of silver coins, as well as a litany of safety and storage products that can help make your first purchase even easier. We ship all of our coins using a strict shipping process intended to avoid any kind of blemishes, scratches, or imperfections. The very last thing we want is for one of your new silver coins to arrive with scratches or marks from shipping.
Our customer service email is always open to questions from new and experienced bullion collectors alike. Whether you’ve just started collecting silver coins or you’ve been at it for years, we have the expertise and dedication to make your investment goals a reality.
There are several things that you should consider as you begin collecting silver coins. Silver coins have been considered an excellent investment option for centuries, and even the Ancient Romans understood the value of this coveted precious metal. Famous government mints from all around the world are constantly releasing new and exciting silver coin designs. Because silver is currently in a global shortage and demand continues to climb, there has never been a better time to get involved in this exciting market.
We hope that this guide to the top ten things you need to know about collecting silver coins helps you begin (or continue) your exciting journey into the world of bullion purchasing and collection. Be sure to check out some of the other guides on the Hero Bullion Academy page. Many of the topics covered in our list items here are discussed more in-depth on other parts of the website.
About The Author
Jake HaugenFollow @herobullion
Hero Bullion provides an environment that is informative and safe for those looking to own physical gold and silver bullion as an investment. We love helping folks at all stages throughout their bullion journey making progress towards acheiving their financial goals. Whether you are a seasoned bullion investor or brand new to the game of gold and silver bullion ownership, we're here to help and serve you in any way we can.