Whats the difference between coins, bars and rounds?
If you buy Silver or have been looking at investing in the popular precious metal, you have probably realized that Silver bullion comes in a plethora of shapes and sizes, minted and manufactured by a huge variety of companies and governments.
The three main forms of Silver bullion are coins, rounds and bars. The term coin annotates one of the various world Governments either directly produced or contracted a mint to produce bullion backed by their countries sovereign form of money. Coins generally have a higher premium (industry jargon for ‘markup’) than rounds and bars. They also have a numismatic variable that gives them value through the coin’s collectability. Collectability can be mild to wild for Government backed bullion coins depending on the grade, age and number of coins minted.
The term bar annotates Silver that is either poured, casted or minted into a rectangle shape and vary in weight. The most common weights are 1 oz, 5 oz, 10 oz, kilogram, and 100 troy ounces. Generally speaking, bars are preferred for folks stacking serious weight and do not concern themselves over collectability, instead focus on Silver as an investment purely for its metal content. That is not to say that some vintage bars do not trade for much higher premiums than what is typically found mint-direct or from the secondary market.
The term round annotates Silver that is minted to look like a coin but is not backed by any domestic or foreign Government. These are extremely cheap alternatives to Silver coins and the premium (or price over market spot price) is much lower per ounce. Here in the United States, we have a handful of privately-owned mints that produce rounds that come in a huge range of sizes and design.
Often time, these privately-owned mints will borrow old designs from the U.S. Mint and their subsequent old coins that use to be in circulation. Some examples of this include the ‘Standing Liberty’ (U.S. Quarter), Mercury Dime (U.S. Dime) and the Incuse Indian Head (U.S. 2 ½ Dollar Gold Coin).
Most produced Silver Round in the United States.
The 1 oz Silver Buffalo Round is another instance of this that copies the old Buffalo Nickel (U.S. Nickel) sometimes referred to as an Indian Head Nickel. The Buffalo Nickel was designed by a sculptor named James Earl Fraser and was produced as a 5-cent piece by the U.S. Mint from 1913-1938 and was comprised of 75% Copper and 25% Nickel.
Silver Buffs (a colloquial for Silver Buffalo Rounds) are hands down the most popular and heavily produced Silver round in the U.S. As stated above, these rounds are produced by privately owned mints in large numbers each year. These rounds are found in a wide variety of sizes including 1/10 oz, ¼ oz, ½ oz, 1 oz, 2 oz, and 5 oz. They are made from .999 fine Silver and are Replicas of the old Buffalo Nickel with the exception of a monetary value which is why these are not considered ‘counterfeit.’ For an added measure, some mints have actually minted the word ‘COPY’ across the round to ensure they avoid trouble from the Secret Service, who not only protects the President, but deals with and investigates crimes related to counterfeiting money.
A customers 'Generic Silver Crate' going out with a unique 'stacker' version of the Buffalo Round by Silvertowne. Photo taken by Investor Crate staff in Texas circa 2018.
The design on the Silver Buffalo rounds will actually vary slightly with some mints choosing to deviate from the original design with different lettering, portrait sizes and each place their own unique ‘mintmark’ on the round to identify their rounds from a different mint. Some popular mints that produce these rounds include;
- The Highland Mint (Annotated by the mint mark ‘HM’)
- The Silvertowne Mint (Annotated by a small pickax mint mark)
- Republic Metals Corporation (Annotated by the mint mark ‘RMC’)
- Golden State Mint (Annotated by the mint mark ‘GSM’)
- The Sunshine Mint (Annotated by the mint mark ‘SMI’)
- Asahi Refinery (Annotated by the Asahi Logo)
- Elemental (Annotated by the Elemental Logo)
- Regency Mint (Annotated by the mint mark ‘RN’)
- Monarch Precious Metals (Annotated by their ‘MPM’ crown logo)
- Osborne Mint (Annotated by their ‘O over M’ or ‘OM’ mint mark)
- Coins and Things (which does not us a mint mark)
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If you are looking to purchase Silver Rounds and build your stack each month check out the ‘Generic Silver Crate’ below. For Investor Crate Plus members, make sure to check out the Fire Sale page as these are in stock often.