Posted on June 15, 2022
Over 2,500 years ago, ancient Persian civilizations used silver coins for trading. Since then, silver coins have been a huge part of nearly every nation’s economy. If you’re interested in purchasing modern silver coins, there’s a lot you’ll want to know to help guide your decision. We’ll explain everything you need to know to help you choose which silver coins are best to buy.
First, let’s define what we’re talking about: silver bullion coins are modern, issued by government mints, and mostly bought and sold based on their intrinsic value (or weight of metal). Bullion coins are categorized separately from collector coins because they’re unlikely to enjoy an aftermarket price appreciation based on rarity, condition, popularity etc. They’re also almost always pure silver 0.999+ fine, which distinguishes them from circulating silver coinage (like Canadian silver dollars or U.S. “junk silver” coins).
Having said all that: silver bullion coins are an excellent choice (especially for beginners) because they’re affordable and offer the quality of a government mint, along with a guaranteed face value. Compared to most silver bars and rounds, silver coins are easily recognized and have more liquidity, meaning they’re easier to buy and sell.
Compared to other precious metals like gold, platinum, and palladium, the price point of silver coins is far lower per troy ounce. So your money will get you more silver coins. It’s totally achievable to build a respectable collection of the world’s finest modern silver bullion coins on even a modest budget.
Finally, silver is also a versatile metal with many manufacturing and scientific applications, which means the price of silver can increase not only due to investor demand but also in response to industrial consumption. Silver enjoys a wider range of applications than other precious metals, which means its price is typically more volatile than gold’s price.
Choosing which silver coins to buy is a personal choice. Even so, there are a number of factors everyone must weigh in making their decisions. During your journey to selecting the best silver coins, here are some elements worth considering.
Every mint has its own standards and techniques for manufacturing coins. When buying silver coins, your best options will be products from globally-recognized top mints, including the U.S. Mint, Royal Canadian Mint, Royal Mint (UK), and Perth Mint. Silver coins from these mints are among the best, most popular, and most recognizable in the world. That means there’s pretty much always a market for both buying and selling them.
The size or weight of silver coins can help guide your buying decisions. Silver coins come in a few sizes, typically ranging from 1 oz to 10 oz, though the 1 oz weight is considered the standard. Some of the most popular options include 1 oz American eagles and 5 oz America the Beautiful (ATB) silver coins.
Fractional silver coins weighing less than 1 oz are extremely uncommon because the cost of minting the coin rapidly dwarfs the intrinsic value of the metal used. So the lightest silver coin you’ll see, most of the time is 1 oz.
Fineness, or the purity of the silver in coins, can vary by mint, with most buyers preferring the highest level of purity. Most government mints make silver coins that are at least 0.999 fineness (99.9% pure), but some coins, like the Canadian silver maple leaf, are a cut above at 0.9999 fineness (99.99% pure). There’s functionally no difference in purity beyond 0.999 fineness, but the world’s mints love outdoing each other…
If you want to own your silver coins in a tax-deferred IRA, you’ll have to follow the IRS guidelines on precious metals. Only certain silver coins meet the IRS criteria, so be sure to verify that the coins you want to buy are eligible for deposit in your IRA.
The basic guidelines are:
Finding the coin you want to buy may be a challenge, so take the time to see which silver coins are actually available before choosing which ones you want to purchase.
If you have your heart set on a specific silver coin that’s in high demand and out of stock everywhere, you may have to wait until it becomes available.
Here are the most popular silver coins based on BullionMax sales.
Year after year, American silver eagle coins have been one of the most popular silver coins money can buy. These 1 oz silver coins have been minted since 1986 and feature the iconic Lady Liberty design by Adolph Weinman on the obverse and the famed bald eagle on the reverse.
To celebrate the 35th year of silver eagle minting, the US Mint updated the designs on the American silver eagles and launched a refreshed obverse design paired with a brand-new reverse design. These new coins dating from the second half of 2021 are known as Type 2 silver eagles, which makes those produced between 1986-2021 Type 1 eagles.
Since Type 1 silver eagles will probably never be minted again, today’s silver buyers are willing to pay slightly more for Type 1 designs compared to the newer, still-unlimited Type 2 mintages.
Silver ATB coins each consist of 5 ounces of 0.999 pure silver in a satisfyingly hand-filling form (approximately the size of a beer coaster). The ATB program began in 2010, releasing 56 different designs (one for each US state and territory) over a 12-year period. The designs on the ATB coins’ reverse sides celebrate America’s parks and historical sites, like Grand Canyon National Park and the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site.
On the obverse, the ATB coins feature the classic George Washington portrait from 1932, originally designed by John Flanagan – the same one you’ll recognize on quarters minted from 1932-2021.
ATB coins often sell significantly above spot prices due to increased demand from collectors. That’s what happens when the mint releases such a huge quantity of new designs in wildly varying mintages (ranging from 24,000-126,000). Even though they’re bullion-grade (rather than “collectible”) products, you can expect to pay more for them.
Canadian silver maple leafs are renowned for their high purity and innovative security features and technologies that are engineered into every coin. These coins are only available in a 1 oz size that is 99.99% pure and bear the image of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and the Canadian maple leaf on the reverse.
The Canadian silver twin maples are the younger sibling of the Canadian maple leaf coins. The new silver twin maples have a pair of maple leaves on the reverse, but share the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. One of the key differences between the original maple leaf and the twin maples is that the twin maples come only in a 2 oz weight, double that of the standard silver maple leaf coin. Silver twin maples are a kind of coin technically called a piedfort (literally, French for “strong foot”) what we at BullionMax refer to as a “double-decker.” Piedfort coins typically have the same diameter as their little brother (in this case, the standard silver maple leaf) but are twice as thick. This really makes a silver twin maples stand out in a collection!
Perth Mint’s Australian silver kangaroo coin is a 1 oz coin made of 0.9999 silver. These coins have been minted since 1993, and today, they bear images of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, coupled with a jumping red kangaroo on the reverse. Unlike Perth Mint’s proof line of silver kangaroos, the bullion coin design’s reverse is consistent year after year.
The 1 oz Australian silver koala bear coin was first released by the Perth Mint in 2007. Though they were originally made of 0.999 silver, the silver koala was upgraded to 0.9999 fineness in 2018. Today, silver bullion koala coins come in 1 oz and 1 kg sizes, though other sizes – like 1/10 oz, 1/2 oz, and 10 oz – have been produced for some years. Like many other coins, the silver koala is stamped with Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait on the obverse. Unlike the silver bullion kangaroo, the silver koala coin has an updated reverse design every year, which adds to its collectible appeal.
The South African silver Krugerrand comes as a 1 oz, 0.999 silver coin. Dating back to 1967, the South African silver Krugerrand has a rich history as one of the leading silver coins. These iconic coins still have the same design as the very first mintage: former South African President Paul Kruger on the obverse, and a prancing springbok antelope, a native of the South African veldt, on the reverse.
The Royal Mint’s silver Britannia coin is available as a 1 oz, 0.999 silver coin. The silver Britannia was first produced in 1997, though its fineness was only 0.958 for the first 15 years of production. Silver Britannia coins minted since 2013 are emblazoned with Philip Nathan’s triumphant Lady Britannia design on the reverse and the profile of Queen Elizabeth II wearing a crown on the obverse.
Check out this complete guide on how to buy silver bullion coins, including important considerations like shipping, storing, and insuring your silver coins.
The best place to begin your search for the best silver coins is at BullionMax, where you can find the world’s best silver coins at below reasonable prices, and free shipping on orders over $199. And if you really can’t make up your mind, don’t worry – we put together a silver starter kit that includes 5 oz of the most popular forms of silver coins on the market, to take the guesswork out of the equation.