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Silver coins have been a popular form of currency for thousands of years, starting around 600 B.C. in modern day Turkey. Investors favor silver coins not only as an addition to their investment portfolio but also as a collectible. Unlike silver rounds, silver coins cannot be reproduced, making them more desirable than other forms of silver bullion on the secondary markets. Silver coins are minted by sovereign mints in limited quantities unlike silver bars and rounds, which are typically produced by private mints.
United States Mint
The earliest record of Congressional interest in establishing a national mint was 1777. It would take 15 years before a sovereign mint became reality. During this time, each state was authorized to strike its own currency and Washington expressed a need for a universal currency that could be used across the fledgling nation. Finally on April 2, 1792, Congress passed the Coinage Act of 1792 which established the United States Mint and paved the way for American currency as we know it.
Today, the United States Mint consists of six facilities spread across the U.S. Each facility has a specialized function. Philadelphia, Denver, San Francisco, and West Point serve as production facilities. Fort Knox is a bullion depository and Washington, D.C. houses the mint’s headquarters. In addition to legal tender, West Point and San Francisco are responsible for producing one of the world’s most popular sovereign coins, the 1 ounce American Silver Eagle.
American Silver Eagle Coins
The United States introduced the American Silver Eagle coin to the world in 1986. The American Silver Eagle coin was originally created to sell off some of the United States’ silver from the National Defense’s stockpile. Unlike its golden counterpart, the American Silver Eagle is only available in 1 troy ounce.
The obverse depicts the Walking Liberty designed in 1916 by Adolph A. Weinman. The Walking Liberty design was originally created for the Walking Liberty Half Dollar which was in production from 1916 to 1947. In the American Silver Eagle, Lady Liberty can be seen draped in an American flag walking towards the sun. In her left arm, Lady Liberty cradles laurel and oak branches which symbolize civil and military glory.
The reverse shows the heraldic eagle. Since 1794, U.S. law requires that the American Eagle be visible on any coinage larger than a dime. The eagle shown on the American Silver Eagle was created by United States Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti in 1986. The eagle is clutching an olive branch and arrows with a shield across its chest. The thirteen five-point stars above its head represent the thirteen original colonies.
Renowned for its beauty, the American Silver Eagle remains one of the most popular coins in the world. In 2015 alone, the United States Mint produced 47 million coins.
The American Silver Eagle coin is legal tender and, therefore, backed by the United States government. Each coin is 1 troy ounce of 0.999 pure silver with a face value of $1 (USD).
Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint was established on January 2, 1908 to relieve the Royal Mint of London who, until 1908, was striking Canada’s currency. Throughout Britain’s Great War, the Royal Canadian Mint produced large amounts gold bars so that Britain could pay its debts. In 1931, the Royal Canadian Mint was given to Canada, allowing the mint to focus solely on Canadian coinage. Their main minting facility is located in Ottawa along with a newer facility in Winnipeg. The majority of their bullion products yield an astounding 0.9999 or even 0.99999 purity.
Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Coins
The Canadian Maple Leaf got its start with the release of the gold Canadian Maple Leaf in 1979. Prior to the release of the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, the only coin available to private investors was the South African Krugerrand. After an overall positive response to the release of their first sovereign coin, the Royal Canadian Mint decided to release the Canadian Maple Leaf’s silver counterpart.
The Canadian Silver Maple Leaf debuted in 1988. Unlike its golden counterpart which offers fractional versions of the gold coin, the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf is only available in 1 troy ounce of 0.9999 pure silver. The silver coin has a face value of $5 (CAD).
The obverse depicts Queen Elizabeth II’s profile. The image is only changed ever so slightly to reflect her age.
The reverse reflects Canada’s iconic sugar maple leaf. This design is the only version to continuously grace both the gold and silver Canadian Maple Leaf coins.