Friday, October 20, 2006

Collecting Silver Bars

Collecting silver bars is an excellent way of accumulating silver. You can get bars from one ounce up to many kilos and the current price of silver makes it quite affordable to collect silver bars on a regular basis.

Although the price of silver does fluctuate, over the long term, it is enjoying a steady rise, so a long term campaign of accumulating silver is quite likely to be a good move.

The various types of silver bars available include. Silver Bars or wafers, often called biscuits as they are pressed from a sheet in a press. The other type is ingots. These are cast bars in a mound. These are usually fairly heavy and about 400 ounces so are harder to store and transport. These are usually kept in bank vaults by companies.

For the individual it is better to look at the small bars, these can range from a one ounce bar up to 1000 ounces or one or ten kilos.

All silver bars should have stamped on them, the amount of silver content, the degree of fineness, which should be 999.0 or more, and the name of the mint in which they are struck.

They should also come with a certificate of authenticity.

You can buy silver bars from various dealers and mints. It is always a good idea to ensure you pick a mint or an established dealer that has a returns policy. When you get the bar examine it and ensure it is exactly as described in the literature. If not you will want to return it and recover your money.

The smaller bars have a higher mark up or premium and are therefore proportionally more expensive. The shipping costs are the same whether you are buying large bars or smaller ones so that also needs to be taken into consideration.. The smaller bars are usually sold for decorative or aesthetic value. It is the 1000 ounce bars that are popular with collections for their potential investment value. Keep in mind that, collecting silver bars, unlike coins, may attract a tax component. It is always advisable to consult with your financial adviser in such matters.

In short, collecting silver bars, as well as being a fun and enjoyable activity, would be the answer to any silver buyer wishing to accumulate silver for a rainy day!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

US Silver Dollar Eagle – Part 3

This is part 3 of US Silver Dollar Eagle

US Silver Dollars Eagles are widely found in auctions, dealers and of course with coin collectors.

It is very important that when buying US Silver Dollar Eagles one understands as much about them as possible. Hence the previous two articles as background and to serve to give some information about the various US Silver Dollars available.

There are some vital points to keep in mind when buying rare or early US Silver Dollar Eagles. Especially when buying from an auction.

With a dealer you can check that the dealer has a returns policy, a fixed address and contact details. Most bona fide dealers will go to great pains to assure you of their long term commitment to the business and to their customers. You can find many online and it is a good idea to build up a relationship with a particular dealer so you can buy and sell coins with them.

With auctions one needs to take a bit more care and do more due diligence. EBay have established the feedback system and with a power seller who has 99 percent or more feedback you can be fairly safe they are in for the duration as much as any other dealer. There are other auctions and you would be wise to check up and find out more about them before you start spending big dollars.

As boring at it might sound, it is always a wise move to read the terms of service and know what the auction, or dealer for that matter, is willing to do or be responsible for before committing any funds.

Perhaps write or email the dealer or auction and see how long it takes to get back to you with a response and what that response is!

Check out the forums that often are advertised on the dealer or auction web sites. Find out what other people say. Most people are quick to complain if there is an issue.

There are coin clubs one can belong to and get advice and talk to others who have similar interests. It is amazing what you can find out about the US Silver Dollar Eagle! The more you know the more you are likely to enjoy collecting US Silver Dollar Eagles. In fact, just by using a bit of common sense and some due diligence, understanding the market can be very satisfying and rewarding when it comes to buying and owning US Silver Dollar Eagles.

US Silver Dollar Eagle – Part 2

This is Part two of a 3 part series on the US Silver Dollar Eagle.

The US Silver Eagle was first struck and release by the US Mint in 1986. It has a face value of one dollar and is guaranteed to contain one troy ounce of .999 fine silver. It is the official silver bullion coin of the US and was first released by the US Mint in 1986. The American Silver Eagle coin is backed by the US government for content and weight. It may also be used as funding for an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) investment.

For collectors there are also proof versions of the coin produced also.

The design on the obverse was originally taken or borrowed from the "Walking Liberty" design first introduced by Adolph A. Weinman and used on the half dollar design around 1916 to 1947. This design was most likely chosen due to its popularity with the public. The reverse contains a heraldic eagle designed by John Mercanti, hence the name.

US silver dollar coins were originally minted between 1792 and 1964. These silver coins ranged in size from the small three cent silver or half dimes to the Trade and Morgan Silver dollars.

In fact, over the next 122 or so years many different types of silver coins have been produced including the silver half dollars.

In 1916 the Liberty Walking silver half dollar was introduced and was minted in Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The Liberty Walking half-dollars are not full silver coins but composed of 90% silver and 10% copper and each coin contains only 0.36169 ounces of pure silver. Nevertheless these coins are also very popular possibly because they are that less expensive and easier to collect and accumulate over time.

The complete list of silver coins, their types and denominations are as follows:

Silver Dollars
Flowing Hair Silver Dollars (1794-1795)
Draped Bust Silver Dollar (1795-1804)
Seated Liberty Silver Dollars (1840-1873)
Trade Silver Dollars (1873-1885)
Morgan Silver Dollars (1878-1904 & 1921)
Peace Silver Dollars (1921-1935)

Silver Half Dollars
Flowing Hair Silver Half Dollars (1794-1795)
Draped Bust Silver Half Dollars (1796-1797, 1801-1807)
Capped Bust Silver Half Dollars (1807-1836)
Seated Liberty Silver Half Dollars (1839-1891)
Barber Silver Half Dollars (1892-1915)
Walking Liberty Silver Half Dollars (1916-1947)
Franklin Silver Half Dollars (1948-1963)

End of US Silver Dollar Eagle – Part 2

US Silver Dollar Eagle - Part 1

This is part 1 of a 3 part article on the US Silver Dollar Eagle. The US Silver Dollar Eagle is perhaps one of the most collected coins by coin collectors around the world.

Some history of the use of silver shows that silver has been used as currency for many hundreds of years. The first currency of the modern Greek state was called the Phoenix. It was originally issued in 1828 in the form of a silver coin equal in value to the French Franc. Its official denomination was the lepton and 1 phoenix = 100 lepta at the time.

The name taken was that of the mythical Phoenix bird, and was meant to symbolize the rebirth of Greece. The myth of this bird derives from ancient Egyptian mythology. The Phoenix is a mythical sacred firebird said to live for either 500 or 1461 years. The male bird with beautiful gold and red plumage builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs at the end of its life and then ignites it. Both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes and from the ashes a new, young phoenix would arise. Stories and the agreed upon life span may vary but the symbology of resurrection and immortality have prevailed throughout history and is reflected here with the Phoenix Dollar.

In Germany in the late 15th century one finds silver coins being used called the 'Talers'. This word has been translated from the German into many other languages including English resulting in the words daler, daaler and eventually dollar. So the word dollar is not unique to the US.

Silver was also used by James VI of Scotland who struck a 30-shilling coin between 1567 and 1571 generally called the Sword Dollar due to his depiction on the obverse holding a sword.

Charles II of England (1660-1685) struck the Double Merk of 1578 and this was called the Thistle Dollar and Spain of course has issued crown size silver coins in the denomination of 8 reales.

Many of these early examples of silver coins can still be found in museums, private collections and, who knows, perhaps many more may be found on future treasure hunts down the track. For those interested , there is a fascinating history of silver being struck as coins and used down the years and links to these is provided in the Links & References section.

So the silver dollar was a natural denomination to be adopted by the fledgling United States.

End of US Silver Dollar Eagle - Part 1

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Price of Silver

The price of silver fluctuates but is currently on a steady long term rise.

From around the 1800s until around 1979-1980, the price of silver was relatively stable around the one to two dollars an ounce range with the occasional minor fluctuation outside of that.

In 1979 it shot up like greased lightning to over 21 dollars an ounce. Totally unprecedented! In later years it gradually tapered down to the four/five dollar mark until recently when it has began a dramatic rise again.

There are various ways of accumulating or investing in silver.

One of the traditional ways is by buying silver bullion. This would be in the form of bars or coins. In some countries, such as Switzerland and Liechtenstein for example, these can be purchased "over the counter" at a bank, but in most countries you need to buy from a dealer or mint.

Bars come in a variety of sizes from one ounce bars all the way through to 1000 ounce bars, (about 68 pounds or 31kg in weight).

A traditional way of investing in silver is by buying bullion bars. In some countries, like Switzerland and Liechtenstein, bullion bars can be bought or sold over the counter of the major banks.

Coins have been used as currency for hundreds of years going back since man can remember. However, coins are no longer used as currency although still issued as legal tender in most countries. However they have become a popular form of investing in silver. Coins are easy and cheap to buy, easy to store and transport and, importantly, can be cashed in quickly in times of need.

Such coins as the 99.99% pure Canadian Silver Maple Leaf. Coins may be minted as either fine silver or junk silver, the latter being older coins with a smaller percentage of silver. U.S. pre-1965 half-dollars, dimes and quarters for example are 90% silver.

silver coins are also available as sterling silver coins, which were officially minted until 1919 in the United Kingdom and Canada, and 1945 in Australia. These coins are 92.5% silver, and are in the form of (in decreasing weight) Crowns, Half-crowns, Florins, Shillings, Sixpences, and threepence. The tiny threepence weighs 1.41 grams, and the Crowns are 28.27 grams (1.54 grams heavier than a US $1). Canada produced silver coins with 80% silver content from 1920 to 1967.

Some hard money enthusiasts use .999 fine silver rounds like the Liberty Dollar as a store of value. A cross between bars and coins, silver rounds are produced by a huge array of Mint (coin)mints, generally contain an ounce of silver in the shape of a coin but have no status as legal tender. Rounds can be ordered with a custom design stamped on the faces or in random assorted batches.

Some Swiss banks offer silver accounts where silver can be instantly bought or sold just like any foreign currency. In this situation the customer does not own the actual metal, but has a claim against the bank for a certain quantity of metal as expressed in their silver account. A similar principle is practices by digital metal companies such as, for example. Where the one owns the gold but it is held in trust by GoldMoney who open an account for the client and record transactions in silver against that account. eLibertyDollar and Phoenix Silver are other companies that specialise in silver for clients silver accounts, and silver accounts are backed through unallocated or allocated silver storage.

There are other methods of owning silver, such as certificate or Exchange Traded Funds but the favourite is where a person can actually own silver itself either in trust or in their own hot little handles.

It is quite likely, although not guaranteed of course, that the price of silver will continue to increase in the long term. So when buying silver, in whatever form, it is important that one does patient due diligence and learns as much as possible about that wonderful shiny silver stuff we call silver.