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Top 5 Silver Coins for Investors

Catherine Tramell
Catherine Tramell

Published April 19, 2023

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Silver is the poor man’s gold. No, silver doesn’t look like gold. Platinum looks more like silver. And people who cannot afford gold jewelry typically turn to imitation gold. Silver jewelry is usually not on their minds since it’s more expensive than fake gold. However, silver is the precious metal of choice when “investing” in gold is not an option. You cannot invest in counterfeit gold.

silver coins

Except for their looks, silver and gold are similar on multiple fronts. They have a luminous, shiny appearance and can hold on to their physical traits or luster even after years of wear and tear. Gold and silver are malleable, great conductors of heat and electricity, and rare. Both have solid investment value.

Silver investors prefer silver bars and coins as the silver content in them is usually the highest or almost 100 percent. Investors typically opt for sovereign mint-produced silver coins as they are made of the highest quality and are government-backed. In this article, we’ll look at the top five silver coins for investors. The coins we’ll discuss in detail are:

  • American Silver Eagle Coin
  • Canadian Maple Leaf Silver Coin
  • Austrian Silver Philharmonic Coin
  • British Silver Britannia

Read more: What is a Proof Coin

If you are considering investing in silver bullion, particularly silver coins, but don’t know which coins to start with, this is the article to read. The precious metal coins listed below are some of the best silver coins. They also qualify for precious metals IRAs. Click on the link to learn more. Also, the below-mentioned coins are all silver replicas of their gold versions.

American Eagle Silver Coin

The Silver American Eagle coin is the U.S.’ official silver bullion coin and arguably the most famous silver coin for investing and collecting. Made by the U.S. Mint (at its various facilities), the American government backs the coin’s content, weight, and purity. The coin is .999 fine silver or 99.9 percent pure. It comes in only one size, the one-troy-ounce variant, with a one-dollar face value. The coin’s actual value is more or corresponds to the current market price of silver. The coin was first made available to the public in 1986 after the Liberty Coin Act of 1985 gave it the green light.

The obverse of American Silver Eagle coins is based on the “Walking Liberty.” The coin’s reverse side features a shielded eagle. The front-facing Lady Liberty design is based on the “Walking Liberty” artwork from 1916 and symbolizes American bullion coins. The coin’s design makes it easily recognizable and unmistakably American. The coin comes in proof and uncirculated avatars, catering more to coin collectors. They appear more polished than the standard bullion version. However, the overall shape, size, and quality are the same.

The coin has had special issues during the ‘90s, 2000s, and 2010s commemorating a special anniversary, event, or milestone. In 1995, for instance, besides the standard proof coin, the U.S. Mint also released a proof version made at West Point. It was dubbed “1995-W Proof Silver Eagle.” The coin was part of a special edition and was released in different sizes, unlike the regular coin. These unique coins have more collectability value and trade at a premium.

Canadian Silver Maple Leaf Coin

The Silver Canadian Maple Leaf is Canada’s equivalent to the American Silver Eagles. Introduced in 1988 by the Royal Canadian Mint, the Silver Maple Leaf coin symbolizes Canada. The Royal Canadian Mint also makes gold, platinum, and palladium coins. The extremely popular silver coin is .9999 or 99.99 pure silver, making the coin one of the purest bullion coins. The Canadian government backs the coin’s quality and content.

The coin features Queen Elizabeth II’s picture on its obverse. The rear side displays the iconic and culturally significant maple leaf, a primary focus of the coin’s design. The design has remained relatively consistent over the years. Changes have been made to the coin every decade to accommodate commemorative editions, holographic enhancements, special proof releases, etc. The Silver Canadian Maple Leafs are highly recognizable and sought after thanks to their design consistency.

The coin also has an extra security feature: a tiny maple leaf laser-marked underneath the bigger leaf. The radial lines originating from the coin’s center further accentuate the coin’s authenticity. The particular pitch and width of the lines produce a light-diffracting pattern, lending to the coin’s uniqueness. The anti-counterfeiting measures, purity, and overall design render the coin highly collectible.

Austrian Silver Philharmonic Coin

The Austrian Vienna Silver Philharmonic coin is one of the most popular silver bullion coins, especially in Europe. The Philharmonic is the first and perhaps the only silver coin denominated in euros. The silver bullion coin is known for its culturally rich, detailed design. Made of .999 pure silver, the coin is ideal for pure silver coin investors with an appreciation for classical music. The Austrian Mint first minted the bullion in 2008, identical in design to the gold version—except for the edges, which are smooth in the silver coin, unlike the gold coin’s reeded edges.

The coin’s obverse or front features Vienna’s Golden Hall, the place for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra yearly concert every New Year. The reverse side showcases musical instruments the prestigious orchestra uses. The musical tools include a cello, harp, French horn, bassoon, and violins. The term “Wiener Philharmoniker” semi-circling at the top is Austrian for “Vienna Philharmonic.” Not to mention, the coin’s design has remained the same since its inception.

If you want to invest in European silver with cultural significance and recognition in the silver investor community, start with silver Philharmonics. Even though the coin is Austrian, it’s well-recognized in Europe, Asia, and North America. Notably, the coin was ranked the third most popular bullion coin in 2013. In other words, you won’t have problems buying or selling the coin in the secondary market.

British Silver Britannia

Introduced in 1997, the Silver Britannia coin is a .999 fine silver coin depicting or paying homage to British heritage. It rides on the success of the gold Britannia coins, which were released in 1987. The coins are commonly traded within the United Kingdom and, therefore, quite popular in the region. The first set of Britannia silver coins was in the proof version and minted in limited numbers. The Royal Mint has produced silver Britannias every year since the coin’s inception.

The coin features the image of The Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the front and the visual of Britannia standing in a horse chariot on the rear. Britannia is a helmeted female warrior considered a humanized depiction of Britain. The coin’s design has had minor changes every year, particularly to the Britannia portrait. Not to mention, special editions have had methods different from regular coins to accommodate their purpose.

Silver Britannia coins have had multiple alterations and refinements over the years. In fact, the coin was not always .999 pure. It started as a .958 fine or 95.8 percent fine silver coin. It was minted with a .999 level of fineness only in 2013 and thereafter. In the same year, the coin underwent a design change too. Notably, the picture of Queen Elizabeth II gracing the coin’s front was made to look more mature. Beginning in 2013, the coin’s proof variants started to showcase a different design yearly, while its bullion version continued to feature the standing Britannia.

Mexican Silver Libertad

Although last on the list, Mexican Silver Libertads are no less than the other coins delineated above. Made by Casa de Moneda de Mexico (Mexican Mint), one of the oldest mints in the world (established in 1535), the Silver Libertad coin has arguably one of the most elegant designs of silver bullion coins. First issued in 1982, the .999 fine silver coin comes in various sizes (1/10 oz, ¼ oz, ½ oz, and 1 oz), fitting any investment budget or portfolio.  

The coin’s artistic design is beautiful and integral to Mexico’s history. The coin’s front features the Mexican National Seal and an eagle perched over a cactus with a serpent in its beak. The coin’s reverse side showcases Mexico’s twin symbols: the Angel of Independence and two Mexican volcanoes. Like the above coins, the Libertad remains true to its heritage, or one can easily discern where it comes from a glance of the design.

The Mexican Silver Libertad has no legal tender value, yet it’s a legal currency in Mexico. Banco de Mexico (Bank of Mexico) assigns and guarantees the coin’s value based on the current prices of the coin’s silver content. The coin comes in both bullion and proof (also reverse proof) versions. The proof coin has the angel frosted, whereas the reverse proof has the background frosted. The silver Libertad also comes with an antique finish, which collectors particularly like. Click here to learn more about the Libertad and other popular Mexican bullion coins.

Honorable Mentions

Other silver bullion coins worth investing in include Australian Silver Kangaroos, Morgan Silver Dollars, Silver Krugerrand, Walking Liberty Half Dollar, Somalian Silver Elephants, Chinese Silver Pandas, Junk Silver Coins, etc. These coins didn’t make the cut for various reasons. The Morgan Silver Dollar didn’t make the top five because we wanted each silver coin listed to represent a different country. Since the Morgan Dollar is American and the Silver Eagle is already featured, we couldn’t nudge it in.

Silver purity was also a significant factor. The Walking Liberty Half Dollar missed out not only because it’s a U.S. Mint offering but also due to its 90 percent silver content. The Junk Silver Coins were also ruled out due to their purity. We were very tempted to feature the Somalian Silver Elephant coin in the top five due to its .9999 fineness and African heritage. It almost made it but was edged out by other, more recognized silver bullion coins.

The only silver bullion coin we have no legitimate reason not to include but still did not include is the .9999 fine, highly collectible, and solid mintage history-boasting Australian Silver Kangaroo. We won't be surprised if you opt for the coin instead of or in addition to the abovementioned ones.

Read more: Karat vs Carat

IRA approved silver


You now know which coins to start your silver investment journey. Note that the above coins aren’t the only ones worth considering. If you come across silver coins that grab your interest, go ahead and buy them. The coins mentioned above were chosen for their recognizability, purity, liquidity, and potential investment return.

If the coin has market recognition or is an exceptional coin otherwise, it will be easier to sell it when needed. If the silver coin you pick is not well-known or relatively generic, finding a buyer in the secondary market resale will be harder. And, as stated in the beginning, the above coins are IRA-approved. Therefore, if you want to buy silver quarters or build a silver collection, the above coins fit the purpose.


How much silver should be there in an investment portfolio?

The correct percentage of silver to be included in an investment portfolio will vary across investors. The portfolio owner’s investment objectives, holding period, risk appetite, presence of other assets in the portfolio, etc., must be considered before allocating portfolio space to silver.
Since silver is much like gold – for instance, no return as dividend or interest – it’s recommended not to assign more than five to 10 percent of the portfolio to silver. If you have invested in other precious metals, such as gold and platinum, reduce your silver investment exposure accordingly. The total worth of your precious metal investments shouldn’t exceed 10 percent of your portfolio value.

Which silver coin size variant is ideal for investing?

Although silver coins come in various sizes, the best investment size is usually 1 oz. The size is standard and enjoys more demand, thanks to the value it offers. It’s not too big or small—it’s just right. If you go any smaller, you may get less silver for the money spent. A bigger silver coin could be excessive. But since silver coins are affordable compared to gold bullion, the corresponding price increase with size shouldn’t be an issue.

What is the difference between silver coins and silver rounds?

Silver coins and rounds are easily confusing as they have the same coin shape, sizes, and pure silver content. Unlike a coin, rounds are not government-backed. They are made by private mints and have generic designs unrelated to a country or entity. Rounds are also relatively inexpensive due to the lesser demand among coin collectors and lesser purity. Silver coins are purer and have enormous numismatic premiums and melt values. For the above reasons, silver collectors usually throng more toward a silver bullion coin than a silver round.

What is “junk silver?”

The term “junk silver” is a misnomer. U.S. half-dollars, silver quarters, and silver dimes issued before and in 1964 are junk silver coins. These coins are usually 90 percent silver or less. They are essentially the antithesis of fine silver coins. These coin are not as sought-after as silver bullion coins. But there’s a niche market consisting of silver coin enthusiasts, collectors, and people who value vintage articles and history and appreciate junk silver. And unlike silver bullion, junk coins carry face values representing the coin’s actual value. They have no numismatic premium. Junk coins bearing values of $100, $500, $1,000, etc., are, therefore, common.