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Silver Coin Types and Series Every Investor Should Know

Silver Coin Types and Series Every Investor Should Know

January 24, 20247110 view(s)

Economic inflation has affected everyone differently. But, like most people, you might be feeling the financial pinch.

Investing in silver coins is one way to buffer against turbulence amid the current economy. Searching for the best silver coins to buy might seem counterintuitive.

After all, you could save your money instead of spending it on coins, but the efforts can pay off.

Coin collecting is an excellent way to diversify your portfolio; silver is among the safest currencies you can rely on. But there are various ways to collect silver, and there are many coins you can choose from. 

Below is a guide to the myriad types of silver coins. We'll discuss the general merits of collecting silver, the differences between coins and bullion, and coin types. 

Is Investing in Silver the Right Choice?

Have you heard the term "inflation hedge" before? Inflation hedges are investments that protect a currency's buying power if it decreases in value

Currencies can lose value because of various economic factors. However, inflation is a common reason why money's worth decreases.

Think of the term "hedging your bets." The phrase means that you're increasing your odds of success.

Inflation hedging works the same way. You invest in something to buffer your money, which has lost value thanks to an economic downturn. 

Hedging helps you stay afloat because you've chosen something that stays stable or increases during inflation. 

Remember when we mentioned "diversifying your portfolio" earlier? It may sound complex, but it means you're investing in various assets. The goal is so that your financial portfolio isn't subject to economic volatility. 

Inflation hedging helps keep your portfolio stable when certain other assets lose value. 

Now, what does all this have to do with investing in silver? Well, silver isn't prone to value changes like fiat money. Fiat money is a currency backed by government decrees, like the US dollar or the euro. 

These fiat funds have value because the government says so and not because of any practical worth or physical commodity. Silver, though, stays stable and may even grow in value. 

Silver has a separate value aside from fiat money and isn't subject to valuation loss. 

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Silver Coins vs Silver Bullion: What's the Difference?

On the surface, how you collect silver seemingly doesn't matter as long as you've got some stored away. In reality, though, there is a difference between the types of silver you can invest in. 

There are differences between silver coins and bullion, which affect how easy it is (and if it's worth it) to collect them. 

Silver Coins

First, we'll discuss silver coins. One great thing about coin collecting is how accessible it is. Coins are easier to store than bullion and less difficult to access.

A silver coin's value mostly comes from its numismatic value. Numismatic value is how much you stand to earn from the coin's sale. However, this value can change according to market fluctuations. 

Silver Bullion

Bullion is bars, ingots, or rounds that contain 99.5% to 99.9% pure silver. Unlike silver coins, which can have monetary value, bullion does not. It is not legal tender and only exists for the precious metal it has. 

Rounds are the only exception. Like bars and ingots, rounds have no financial value and aren't produced by the US Mint. Silver rounds sometimes have elaborate, decorative designs. 

You can often buy these at spot price (or how much the silver itself is worth). While most bullion can be tedious to store, silver rounds are more manageable due to their smaller, streamlined profile. 

Rounds are an alternative to coins for people who don't want (or have no time) to research different types of silver coins. 

What Are the Best Silver Coins to Buy?

We've explained why silver is worth buying and how coins differ from bullion. So now you might be curious about which silver coins are the best to buy. Here are a few types of silver coins we'd like to discuss below: 

  • 90% Junk Silver Coins
  • American Silver Eagle Coin
  • British Silver Britannia Coin
  • Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Coin

These coins are (usually) gorgeous, rare, and contain enough silver to tide you over in times of inflation. They're a perfect start for both collectors and people seeking to diversify their portfolios.

90% Junk Silver Coins

Junk silver coins or constitutional silver are 90% coins minted before 1965 that have no collectible or numismatic value. They're worthless to collectors or people looking to sell based on collectible worth.

People buy and sell junk coins for the silver content. Before we continue, you need to know that silver coins are costly. Premiums for the precious metal add up fast. 

A premium is how much more you pay for a silver product above the spot price. So, a silver premium is the cost of the coin plus how much the silver in the coin is worth.

Junk silver doesn't come with this issue. You buy these coins cheaply and in bulk. 90% junk silver offers buyers a less expensive way to stack coins with high pure silver content. 

American Silver Eagle Coin

The American Silver Eagle began in 1986 when the U.S. Defense National Stockpile wanted to get rid of its surplus silver. They wanted to reduce the national deficit. The Silver Eagle, when minted, comes in limited quantities.

People have used the Silver Eagle as a silver investment tool for a long time. American Silver Eagle coins are IRA-eligible, which enables you to save for retirement, tax-free or with tax deferrals.

Typically, you save money and assets until retirement, but in this case, you save silver. The American Silver Eagle is recognizable despite its rarity - you can't avoid high premiums for this coin. 

The coin has Lady Liberty walking toward a rising sun with an olive branch in her hand on its obverse side. On the opposite flank, there is the American Ball Eagle. There are three variations of this .999 fine silver coin:

  • Bullion Eagles
    • These are the cheapest
    • People primarily buy them for silver investing

  • Burnished Eagles
    • These are the rarest 
    • They appear less shiny and matte 

  • Proof Eagles
    • These are the most expensive
    • They're colored with high-quality dyes
    • The backgrounds on proof eagles have a mirror-like shine


British Silver Britannia Coin

The British Silver Britannia coin is one of the most recognized rare silver coins on the planet. The Royal Mint created these coins in 1997 after the success of their Gold Britannia coins. 

The 1998 to 2012 editions contained .958 pure silver, while versions from 2013 onwards contained .999 pure silver.

Most of these coins will have images of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. However, the obverse side of the Silver Britannia coin will feature the current royal leader. 

Gold and silver coins created from 1985 to 1997 used the Third Portrait, an effigy image of the queen. This depiction is notable for the controversy surrounding complaints of making the queen appear too young. 

Coins minted after 1997 used the Fourth Portrait, a more mature depiction of Queen Elizabeth.

Silver Britannia coins from 2015 to 2022 depicted the most current Fifth Portrait. The 2023 edition of the Silver Britannia has King Charles III on its obverse.

The opposite side of the coin has an image of Standing Britannia. She's holding a trident in her right hand, and a shield emblazoned with the Union Jack in her left. Standing Britannia wears a Corinthian helmet.

Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Coins

The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is another rare silver coin collectors recognize. The Silver Maple Leaf contains .9999 fine pure silver.

This coin is annually minted and released by Canada's government. Like the Silver Britannia, many of these coins have Queen Elizabeth II on their obverse from as far back as their start in 1997. 

Silver Maple coins come in three editions featuring the queen. Each of these images was done by a different artist until 2024. The new monarch featured was King Charles III. On the opposite side is a maple leaf. 

The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is so popular amongst coin collectors that the Royal Canadian Mint makes collectible versions.

These collectible editions have specialized privy marks. A privy mark is a label of a minted source, a mark of inclusion in a collection, or for special occasions. Collectible Silver Maple coins also have unique finishes. 

Here are a few of the special Canadian Silver Maple Leaf coins: 

  • Magnificent Maple Leaf
    • Contain an image of two maple leaves attached to a stem

  • Gilded Silver Maple Leaf
    • The sugar maple leaf has gold gilding for extra brightness

  • Colorized Maple Leaf
    • These come out each year in varying shades

  • 25th Anniversary Edition
    • These have a large "25" emblazoned atop the maple leaf

  • Wild Canada Series
    • Has privy marks honoring animals from Canadian Wildlife Series

Silver Coin Types and Series Every Investor Should Know

Are You Looking to Invest in Silver?

This guide is a great place to start if you're looking for the best silver coins to buy. Junk silver coins are more accessible to many investors, but rare silver coins are more exciting for collectors. 

You need to know where to start when looking to hedge against inflation. You can rely on the United States Gold Bureau to get you on the right track. 

Sign up for our free Precious Metal Investors Kit so you can learn how to invest in and store silver and gold.

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