The Silver Investment

Market offers a variety of silver bullion products. This overview provides brief discussions of the advantages and disadvantages of buying the most popular silver bullion and silver coin investments.

For detailed discussions of specific silver bullion products and silver coins, follow the links. Before investing in silver, readers should study this page and follow the links to the pages that discuss specific products. Get all your questions answered before you invest.

Silver investing, .999 silver bullion Silver bars are the most popular way of investing in silver because they are uniform in size, making them easy to handle and convenient to store. Additionally, silver bars are compact, which enables investors to secure a great deal of wealth in relative small storage areas. Silver bars with recognized hallmarks are readily accepted for resale, making them easy to convert to cash.

The standard purity for silver bars for decades has been .999 fine (99.9% pure). Most 100-oz silver bars, 10-oz silver bars and 1-oz silver rounds are .999 fine, including the US Mint's 1-oz Silver Eagles. However, the Royal Canadian Mint produces 100-oz silver bars of .9999 purity. In the industry, they are called “four 9s” silver bars. Johnson Matthey bars, although no longer produced, are the world's best known and are stamped .999 fine.

1-oz silver bars (rectangles) are available but not nearly as popular as 1-oz rounds. 1,000-oz silver bars are recommended only for IRA silver investments. At 70 pounds and sometimes heavier 1,000-oz silver bars are difficult to handle. At times, though, large RCM silver bars with weights between 800 ounces and 900 ounces are available and carry smaller premiums than the 100-oz silver bars.

100-oz silver bars dominate the silver investing market. Investors who buy 100-oz silver bars generally ignore the survival aspect (Learn about Survival Coins) of owning silver, which comes with owning pre-1965 US 90% silver coins and 1-oz silver rounds. 10-oz silver bars provide features of both silver investment bars and of survival forms (junk 90% coins and 1-oz rounds).

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Investing in Silver Coins:

Although not bullion, circulated pre-’65 US 90% silver coins, (commonly referred to as junk silver coins because they have no collector value, essentially are bullion silver investments because $1,000 face (a “bag”) yields right at 715 ounces of pure silver when refined. When minted, a bag of 90% contained 723 ounces of silver. Because of wear, however, a bag of dimes or quarters will net about 715 ounces.

A bag of half dollars will net a little more, maybe 718-720 ounces because half-dollars did not circulate as much as dimes and quarters. Investors can expect to pay a little more for half-dollars than for dimes or quarters because of the higher silver content and because half-dollars are more popular. And, fewer half-dollars were minted than were dimes and quarters.

When investing in silver coins, buyers basically have three choices of 90% silver half-dollars: 1964-dated Kennedy half-dollars, Ben Franklin half-dollars, and Walking Liberty half dollars. As a rule, circulated Kennedy half dollars and Franklin half dollars carry small premiums over dimes and quarters. However, Walking Liberty half dollars sell at higher premiums.

Premiums on bags of silver coins rise and fall, depending on demand and availability. At times, bags of silver coins carry higher premiums than 100-oz silver bars, but sometimes lower, and sometimes about the same.

Investors who can handle the added bulk and weight of bags of 90% junk silver coins should make them their first silver investing choice because 90% coins pick up premiums in markets where the public is investing in silver heavily. In past precious metals bull markets, bags have tacked on premiums of $2.50 to $3.50 per ounce. At times, premiums can rise to ridiculously high levels

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