What Size of Silver Bullion is Best for Me?

Modern silver purchasers have a wide range of silver bullion weights to choose from, to suit every budget and every possible need for portability. The numerous forms in which silver bullion appears also lend themselves to different kinds of collectors, though coins, rounds, and bars remain the most common types of silver bullion, with larger medallions and oddly shaped weights of silver being rare and exceptional.

Smaller weights of silver are advantageous for people who can only buy a bit of silver at one time, as well as those who need to keep their silver as portable as possible (for example, if they travel to numerous coin shows). These small weights typically cost less, based on the spot price of an appropriate weight of silver, though in some cases the rarity of a coin gives it a premium far in excess of the coin’s theoretical melt value.

Small amounts of silver are also naturally more liquid than heavier chunks of the metal. More interested parties will be able to buy a smaller piece of silver, and are more likely to do so quickly and with less negotiation beforehand, meaning that you can convert light weights of silver into cash quite readily. If you need a lot of liquidity – for example, if your silver is a hedge against inflation which will be sold to get “emergency funds” in case of hyperinflation – then small pieces of silver are best.

It should also be noted that having your silver broken into numerous small pieces means that you can liquidate it piecemeal, as needed, rather than having to commit to liquidation of a large amount of silver at once.

Larger weights of silver are appropriate for people who have a large amount of disposable income to use for obtaining precious metals, and who do not need either great portability or great liquidity. Convenience is one of the good reasons for buying hefty silver bars if you are planning on stockpiling large quantities of the metal. If you have a large stock of silver, then managing a few hundred bars is much easier than managing several thousand coins.

Large silver bars are still fairly liquid as long as you have ready access to a good-sized urban center. They are also more orderly to store and more difficult for people to steal (assuming that you do not have them placed in a vault somewhere). If you are anticipating needing a large amount of cash in the future, then liquidating a heavy silver bar or two will save you money on the numerous small transactions which might otherwise need to be carried out.

Modern Weights Available

Depending on whether you limit yourself to modern coins and rounds, or branch out into the coins of the past, you can acquire silver in a wide range of different weights and sizes:

Silver dimes such as the “Walking Mercury” and the “Roosevelt” contain around 0.0723 ounces of silver, and are worth around $2.62 today in terms of melt value.

Silver nickels like the War Nickel include about 0.056 ounces of silver, a bit less than the dimes.

Silver quarters hold 0.18 ounces of silver, meaning that around six of them add up to slightly more than one troy ounce of the precious metal.

Silver half dollars contain 0.361 ounces of silver up to the end of 1964. Thereafter, from 1965 until the end of their production in 1970, these coins contained only 0.147 ounces of silver, less than the silver quarters of an earlier era.

Fractional silver rounds and coins typically come in 1/10 ounce, ½ ounce, and ¼ ounce sizes, though there are occasional oddballs, such as the 2/3 ounce Chinese Silver Flower coins minted during the first few years – though these have a colossal premium over melt value anyway.

Standard bullion coins contain exactly one troy ounce of .999 fineness silver. Dozens of governments across the world make these coins, and banks and private minting companies such as APMEX make silver rounds and silver bars in this size as well.

5 ounce coins, rounds, and bars are available from both governments and private sources.

10 ounce coins are minted by many governments, and are often the largest coins that official sources provide. 10 ounce rounds and especially bars are also widely made by private sources.

1 kilogram is a popular size for the largest coins of certain mints, as well as many privately issued bullion bars. A kilogram bar of silver contains almost 32 troy ounces of the precious metal (2.2 pounds), and thus has the value storage capacity of a whole mint tube of bullion coins.

100 ounce bars are made by many companies for those who want to acquire a large amount of silver at one time. They are expensive, but provide a very solid entry into silver collection.

1,000 ounce bars are produced by the larger banks and minting companies for serious investors with large amounts of cash on hand to make these robust purchases.

The Largest Coin Available Today

Although the giant “gimmick coins” that modern mints make for publicity purposes are not a cost effective way of obtaining silver bullion, no description of the purchasable weights available today would be complete without mention of the world’s largest silver coins. These coins are impractical for bullion because the premium over spot is enormous due to the amount of work that goes into striking them, and they are a dubious investment because they are so illiquid – there are few people who can even afford to buy them, and of that tiny minority, only an even smaller fraction are potential customers.

However, there is no doubt that these coins are memorable, and provide some fairly serious bragging rights to anyone who actually happens to possess one of them.

The very largest produced to date is a pizza-sized silver coin from Austria, the 2008 Taler (in effect, “dollar”), which is 14” (36 cm) in diameter and weighs 44 pounds (20 kilograms). The Taler was made to commemorate the European Championship of Football and includes hexagonal patterns reminiscent of a football’s surface.

The reverse of the coin bears an inscription in Latin around the edge, and shows four of those European individuals the mint officials deemed most important – Martin Luther, James Watt, Bertha von Suttner (a pacifist), and Antonio Vivaldi. Unfortunately, they appear to have been sculpted with identical faces, all of which have squinting, pouchy eyes, flattened noses, and jowls. Even the unfortunate Bertha von Suttner appears generically male!

The image of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, armed and armored for battle and mounted on his horse, appears on the obverse – a unique instance of a coin commemorating the coronation of a monarch nearly five hundred years dead. This was done because Maximilian’s coronation medallion was the first official inscription to include the word “Europe” – an interesting reminder of a little-known fact on one of the world’s biggest silver coins.