Silver Bullion Coins of the World
In addition to gold coins, silver coins have been used as money since ancient times. In the United States, silver coins were authorized under the Coinage Act of 1792. This act provided for the production of five different silver coins: the dollar, half dollar, quarter dollar, disme, and half disme. The proportional value of gold and silver was set as 15 to 1, and the composition of silver coins was set as 1845 parts silver to 179 parts copper. After some adjustments over the years, the more commonly konwn units and compositions prevailed as dollars, half dollars, quarer dollars, and dimes struck in 90% silver and 10% copper, which may now be treated as junk silver. After 1964, silver was not used in circulating United States coins, except for 40% silver half dollars struck from 1965 to 1970.
Today, silver coins are struck primarily as bullion coins or collectors coins. The official silver bullion coin of the United States is the American Silver Eagle. This coin was introduced in 1986 and carries Adolph A. Weinman’s classic design from the Walking Liberty Half Dollar. The coins were minted to contain exactly one ounce of silver. The bullion coins are also produced in special proof or uncirculated versions for collectors.
Silver bullion coins are also produced by a number of other world mints. The Royal Canadian Mint produces the Silver Maple Leaf. These coins were launched two years after the Silver Eagle and quickly made an impression since they were minted in .9999 pure silver, a greater purity than other bullion coins.
Some silver bullion coins have differentiated themselves by featuring annually rotating designs or high quality proof like finishes. Two coins which utilize these features are the Chinese Silver Panda, which features different reverse images of pandas each year, and the Australian Silver Kookaburra and Silver Koala, both of which feature different images of the animals. These coins also feature striking elements that resemble proof coins.
A recent new contender in the market for silver bullion coins is the Silver Philharmonic. This coin has the same design as the popular Gold Philharmonic. It was first offered by the Austrian Mint in 2008. The coins have recently made a mark as some of the lowest premium government issued silver bullion coins.
The United States Mint introduced their second silver bullion coin program in 2010. The America the Beautiful Silver Bullion coins carry the same design as the series of circulating quarter dollars struck in 5.0 ounces of .999 fine silver. Due to the limited mintage of the 2010 issues the series has generated much interest and controversy from collectors.