Silver Coins FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
We are frequently asked questions about silver coins. This is why we have created this silver coins FAQs page, which is full of questions with model answers.
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Genuine coins made from silver are not magnetic. With purity of popular silver investment coins such as Britannias close to 100%, only replica (fake!) coins will be magnetic. Coins made with far lower purities of silver, mainly mixing in steel or iron will show signs of magnetism, so should be avoided. Non-magnetism does not guarantee that the coin is silver though. Metals filled with a core of non-silver will likely not be magnetic either.
Yes, their value is a combination of the underlying silver price, their weight, and the coin’s rarity and desirability. Generally, a silver coin will sell for around 96-98% of the current silver value for its weight. So, a 1oz coin may fetch around £11 or so. If the coin is part of a limited issue and demand is higher, the value is likely to be 5-10% higher.
It is advised to hold coins for the long term and always hold a portion of your wealth in silver as a balance and hedge against market downturns. Having said that, the amount you hold can vary according to market conditions and the silver price. Timing will depend on the price and time you bought them (was the market high or low), your need to liquidate and the current silver price. Buying low and selling high is the ideal scenario!
Yes, they are legal tender in their country of issue if they possess a face value. In the UK, Silver Britannias and other Royal Mint issued coins have face values and can, in theory, be used in shops. But this would be an uneconomical choice. With a face value of 2 Pounds, the silver content alone is worth at least five times that. Instead, the legal tender status helps silver investors as any capital gains made upon selling the coins are free from tax.
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Choosing silver coins vs silver rounds will depend (ultimately) upon your objectives. Silver rounds can generally be bought at lower prices for their weight as they are produced by private companies rather than national mints. With less liquidity, rounds are likely to be sold as scrap in the future. Certain legal tender coins are also CGT free, so any profits are tax exempt.
The best way is first to keep them in the plastic capsules or tunes they arrived in. If they came loose, then purchase some coin tubes. Large orders of 250 coins or more can come in monster boxes of 20 tubes or more and can help with neat stacking. Try to handle your coins as little as possible. Placing carbon pieces from a pet shop in the box can help prevent the hydrogen sulphide from tarnishing the coins.
Silver acts as a preserver for many substances. As a colloidal metal, it can help prevent diseases and be anti-bacterial. Certainly, adding a clean silver coin to some water will help with its purity. However, simply dropping a silver coin into a glass of dirty water will not rid it of all its nasty elements.
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Currently, they are incredibly cheap relative to their historical ratio to gold. This would suggest that their value is set to rise in the future. Coins offer superb divisibility rather than buying silver bars but still offer quantity discounts. UK coins can be CGT free, which foreign silver bars and coins cannot. With industrial demand for silver in computers on the rise, the future looks bright for silver.
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The number of banks offering a retail service is dwindling. It is now only possible to buy from certain banks such as Scotiabank in some countries, but not in the UK. This is because the banks do not want to commit the necessary resource for dealing in precious metals. For this reason, many banks who can source your silver coins from, will not buyback. The price they sell at will be relatively high, reflecting their lack of appetite for the business.
A natural by-product of silver is its reaction to chemicals and humidity in the air. Tarnishing occurs when the silver atoms encounter oxygen, forming a silver oxide. Unlike rust, this protective layer does not infiltrate into the silver. Tarnishing, also known as toning, can be removed by using a coin cleaning solution and minimised by keeping coins in airtight containers.
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Placing a silver coin into milk will delay the time it takes to go off. The coin has to be 99.9% pure rather than a lower mix alloy to work. The natural anti-bacterial qualities of colloidal silver will not prevent the milk from spoiling entirely but can prolong its life for 5-10 days. Infact, before refrigeration, silver was used regularly to achieve longer life milk and keep water pure.
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Silver is far cheaper than gold, making it more accessible to the modest investor. The current price ratio between the two metals is at its widest point in history, suggesting silver has far more potential upside. Gold acts more like a classic safe haven to protect investors in economic downturns. While silver also acts in a similar way it also benefits from industrial demand due to its conductive qualities. Silver can be more volatile and dealer spreads are slightly wider than the gold market.
Our 50p and 5p coins are known as silver. However, they no longer contain any silver at all. Instead, they consist of cupronickel, a mix of nickel and copper. This is far cheaper and more resilient than using silver. Silver investment coins like the Britannia consist of 99.99% pure silver. While they have a face value, they are not actively in circulation. In theory, you can legally spend this coin in the shops, but its £2 face value is less than a fifth of its silver value.
Vinegar can be used to clean non-valuable coins but is not recommended for pure silver coinage. The use of vinegar could lower the value of the coin. The best bet to clean is with warm soapy water. Avoid using a brush as silver can be soft and scratch. Instead, use a cloth and fingers to rub any dirt away after soaking.
Silver investment coins are made from pure silver (99.99% purity usually). Silver currency coins such as the fifty pence piece or 5p are made from a mixture of nickel and copper. The alloy consists of 75% copper and 25% nickel, which when combined form a resilient metal known as cupronickel. UK coins were made from 92.5% sterling silver until 1920 and then this reduced to around 50% purity until 1947. Cupronickel was introduced in 1971.
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The best coins to invest in for UK investors are the Royal Mint produced coins. The silver Britannia should form the backbone of the investment as the standard coin is cheap but very liquid. Combining this with some more limited issue coins such as the Queen’s Beasts and Lunar series will provide portfolio balance and create the chance to benefit from these coins rising in value quicker due to limited issue. All UK Silver manufactured coins have the advantage of being Capital Gains Tax-free.
Your average high street bank will not buy them from you. It is possible they would exchange the coins for their face value but that would be a foolish strategy as these values fall well short of the actual value. It is far better to seek the help of a reputable silver dealer who specialises in precious metals and will pay well for them as they can sell them on to other customers.
In theory, yes, they can conduct electricity. But we are only talking about the pure silver investment coins that contain 99.9% silver. Silver is by far the most conductive of all elements, to the point, where all other metals are benchmarked against silver to gauge conductivity. Silver currency coins that contain no silver at all will conduct electricity at a far lower level.
If you have old coins with a value far greater than their simple silver weight, then sell them through an auction of a specialist dealer. Silver dealers will provide the best price and trustworthy service. If you have time on your hands, then you can try selling privately through portals such as eBay, but this poses risks. For scrap coins, local jewellers are easy to sell to but be prepared for low prices.
Silver uncirculated coins are recommended for investors. They are far cheaper than proof coins so you can get more silver for your money. Silver dealers will not pay much more for silver proof coins when you come to sell. If you are a coin collector, then proof coins can add a higher sense of finish and exclusivity to the coin.
The best way to clean valuable coins made from silver is with warm soapy water. Soak the coins for 10 to 15 minutes turning them occasionally. The coins can then be rubbed dry with a cloth, paying attention to removing any surface dirt. Avoid using a brush that could scratch the silver or chemicals like vinegar that could detract from the coin’s lustre.
Silver coins should ideally be bought when the economy is quiet, and the stock markets are doing well. This usually means a low silver price so you can secure coins at this level. The value of coins rises with the underlying silver price and should be considered a medium to long term hold due to short term volatility. Buying silver regularly is another strategy to gradually accumulate a substantial holding by averaging out buy prices.
Yes, they can be bought directly from the US Mint’s website. In a similar way to the Royal Mint, you are restricted to buying coins only produced by the mint. They will not sell 3rd party coins. Due to their reputation, the mint does not need to be super competitive on prices and will not generally offer quantity discounts. There is a focus on boxed proof coins rather than bullion coins. Better deals will be had from buying from a silver dealer, who will offer to buy back the coins, provide lower prices and more choice.
If you want hassle-free storage, it is best to store coins with the silver dealer from whom you bought. This usually entails storage in a specialist warehouse to maintain the silver’s integrity and includes insurance. If you want to store yourself, then the coins should be kept somewhere secure and be insured against theft. Reducing the amount of handling and oxygen to the coins will help prevent tarnishing. Keep the coins in their tube and keep them airtight if possible. If bought in large quantities, silver coin tubes can be stored in monster boxes (of 20-25 tubes), and the boxes conveniently stacked.
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A very quick way to test silver coins is to place an ice cube on top of the coin. As the world’s best conductor of electricity, the ice cube should start to melt immediately compared to one placed on a wooden surface. Testing the silver coin for magnetism cannot prove it is genuine, but any sign of sticking to the magnet will prove it is a fake. When looking at well-known silver coins, careful visual comparisons with a real silver coin will usually unearth some straightforward differences with finish, detail, and edging.
Silver Britannias are the best silver-based coins to buy for investment. They are mass-produced bullion coins so offer a high degree of value. Limited issue coins tend to command a premium. Britannias are 1oz in weight so provide divisibility. Any profits made on selling silver Britannia coins are CGT exempt as the coins are legal tender in the UK. There is a strong second-hand demand for the coins so selling prices are high.
Britannia coins are an excellent investment for the medium to long term. Silver is currently unbelievably cheap compared to historical values. Industrial demand for silver is rising with advances in technology as silver is used for its conductive qualities. Silver Britannias are an excellent option is they are highly liquid, world-renowned, and tax-free for UK investors.
Buying silver coins is an excellent option for those seeking a tangible asset with no counterparty risks. The value of silver can rise with industrial and investment demand, but supply is limited due to its precious metals status. Coins can be a better option to buy than silver bars as they can be tax-free and can be sold in small sizes. Discounts are available for buying in larger quantities of coins.
Do not be tempted to buy coins from online shops like eBay and Craigslist. Authenticity can be a huge problem if you buy privately. Stick to buying from prominent silver dealers so you can rest assured that the silver is real. They will also provide the facility to store the silver if you wish, deliver it to your door, and buy it back in the future.
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