Silver: Art You Can Spend
Silver: Art You Can Spend by Rory – The Daily Coin
In 2008 I discovered silver. This was a moment I will never forget, I was out of work, due to an injury and found myself surfing the internet. I remember a program on the History channel (this program has been scrubbed from the internet) about this person who had developed a piece of software that could “predict” the future using language on the internet. Clif High and George Uhr had developed this software for the purpose of front running the stock market. What they discovered was far more valuable than they could have ever imagined.
Reading one of the Web Bot Projects ALTA reports Mr. High discussed silver and silver coins along with the gold to silver price ratio. At the time it was 42:1 42 ounces of silver cost the same as one ounce of gold. Clif also reintroduced me to the historical gold/silver ratio being approximately 16:1. I thought if I bought some silver and the gold/silver ratio returned to the historical norm I would be rich!! Rich I tell you! Well, anyone following gold and silver know what has happened beginning in 2010 and carrying through to today. Needless to say I am not rich from this “investment”.
I have been acquiring silver and gold ever since and have a couple of coins that I would like to share. I have learned a lot about money, finance, currency and economics since 2008 and feel confident enough about the knowledge I have garnered to start my own website, The Daily Coin. All of these acquisitions, study and research have led me, it may just be me, to the next phase in acquiring silver and gold coins – art. The art of coinage is amazing. If you look at some of the coins and bars that are being produced, from an artistic perspective, they are stunning. Also, I must confess, I have operated an art studio, out of my home, since 1988 so the love of art is built in. I have been writing, painting, worked with steel, wood and stained glass. I have amassed a small collection of local artists’ works that I have displayed throughout my home. So, I have a fairly deep appreciation for art and have a good idea what it takes to create breathtaking works on a small surface, such as a silver coin or bar.
Silver coins, more so than gold coins, have really taken off the past few years. The government mints, around the world, have somewhat standardized coin templates and produce millions, if not tens of millions, of coins each year. In 2016 the U.S. Mint alone produced in excess of 37 million American Silver Eagles. All identical, except for the date, to the over 300 million American Silver Eagles produced since 1986.
One coin that currently has my attention is another coin produced by the U.S. Mint, America the Beautiful (ATB) coin series. These coins were first produced in 2010 and are scheduled to end production in 2022. Each year the Mint produces five different coins and each one is completely different, never to be reproduced. The beautiful side of the coins are in honor of the various national parks scattered throughout the U.S., while the “observe” side is a replica of the U.S. quarter dollar. The coin has a government stamped “value” of $0.25 U.S. The collectible aspect of the coin is two fold; e.g. the art work and the low mintage of individual coins.
I am not a coin dealer, a coin expert nor do offer any investment advice. I love these coins and believe some of them will go much higher in value. The higher value, for me, is a bonus. The artwork on these coins has ensured a place in my collection as long as I am acquiring coins. It makes owning physical silver and gold a lot more fun, and besides I am a gambler and the thrill of “making a bet” is always exciting.
The coin to the right is a 2016 ATB Theodore Roosevelt National Park. With a mintage of 40,000 coins that makes it the third most produced coin of the ATB’s in 2016. (Click any of the images throughout this article for a larger view.)
As you can see the detail in this coin is incredible. The mane on the horse, the river and the individual trees all visible with the naked eye. Under a loop the detail really pops and you can see the mustache President Roosevelt was sporting! These coins hit the market with a built in premium of $2 US per ounce of silver and any dealer markup. Each coin is 5 ounces of .999 silver and comes in it’s own airtite capsule for protection.
I want to introduce you to the collectible side so let’s look at the potential of the ATB coins from the past few years. The mark up on these coins has caught my attention, and should get yours, as these are not “antique” coins, but modern coins produced within the past 7 years.
The Hawaii Volcanos National Park coin mintage halted at a mere 20,000 in 2012. Silvers cumulative average cost in 2012 was $31.15/ounce. Being a five ounce coin with a $2/ounce premium this coin to the wholesalers would have cost approximately $165.75. With the wholesalers markup this coin could have been delivered to your door for approximately $180.00. Today, just five years later this same coin cost on average $360 US. If you look at the proofs of these coins, with mintage substantially smaller than 20,000, you will fork over anywhere from $450 to $1,500 US.
The next coin I would like to introduce was produced in the country of Niue. They produced a series of endangered species coins that are all proof and extremely low mintage. When I purchased two of the Black Rhinoceros, produced in 2014, they sold for approximately $80 US. Today, I searched several of the online silver and gold dealers and finally found three on eBay. The price ranged from $99 US (just the coin nothing else – none of the packaging) to $134. This is one of the prize possessions in my collection, not because of value, but because of the beauty. It is by far the most beautiful coin in my collection. My guess is the value of this coin will continue to increase. The New Zealand Mint kept mintage to 2,000 for each in the series and all coins have been sold out by the mint. The coin below is number 0987 out of 2,000.If you see one it should disappear into your collection, you will not regret it. Let’s take a look.
The detail in the reflection, water and Rhinoceros itself is stunning to say the least. When I saw this coin, along with the packaging, reviewed the detail in the reflection I immediately acquired two and then ask my wife if it was okay!! The Black Rhinoceros coin, in my opinion, is one of the more beautiful coins you will ever see. If you own one, congratulations, you belong to a very exclusive club. With this being a government minted coin there should always be a market for these coins. Government minted coins are typically more sought after than privately minted medallions (coins) and bars.
I could go on and on about a variety of silver coins that are collectable, but I want to turn to a collectable that most coin collectors give little thought – silver bars. Most people hear the word “silver bar” and their minds eye paints a picture of a generic slab of silver that has been formed and cut into a particular size. Well, there are plenty of those, but I want to focus on one silver bar in particular – Engelhard
Engelhard bars have been fan favorites for some time. They have always carried a small premium to other bars and rounds but now that the company has been sold and the Engelhard brand is gone, well, the premiums are steadily climbing. Engelhard has a long standing reputation and that is the reason for most of the premium to other silver bars. Most, if not all, the early bars were produced with an individual serial number. The numbers never repeat which make each bar, even though considered “generic”, it is 100% unique.
Here is another prize in the collection. I rooted around trying to find any information on mintage of these bars and, of course, there is a website dedicated to delivering this information. The bar below is called a “waffle” bar because of the “waffle” imprint that occurred during the mint process. I am not sure if this was intentional or if it was a “mistake” in the mintage process. Either way, it is a very cool feature of the bar and further enhances the uniqueness of these bars. The “waffle’ bars were produced with the “P” leading the serial number. The entire series beginning with P001761 through P076654 minted fewer than 50,000 bars. The bars have a couple of unique features aside from the waffle back. First, the sides of the bars taper inward from top to bottom making the top slightly larger than the bottom. Also, if you notice the purity rating is set up slightly different “99 9+”. There is no explanation for the space between the second and third “9” but it is a unique feature further enhancing the collectibility of this “generic” bar. Engelhard bars carry there own premium and market value. It is not unusual to find these bars trading with a 30% premium to spot or to have their own value outside of the silver market. Well worth the hunt and well worth acquiring when possible. I did not hesitate in acquiring this particular bar. I will gather in all that I come across at any reasonable cost.
There was a second series of “waffle” back bars that ran from P076324 to P166500. The mintage was also fewer than 50,000. The primary difference is the purity mark being “999+” fine silver. The space between the second and third “9” does not exist. Approximately 300 bars were minted were in this series with purity mark with a space and without a space in between the second and third “9”.
Hopefully, that will give you an idea of what is possible to do on a small budget that has the potential for big returns. If there are no big returns at least I can say I had fun and learned a lot about silver, gold and coins in general. Look for another installment of The Daily Coin where we will break things down and look at individual coin series, privately minted art coins and provide a little detail as to how you can take another step in Silver: Art You Can Spend!