August 15, 2023

There’s a wide world of silver bullion out there. Millions of silver coins are sold around the world every year. In 2022, the Royal Canadian Mint alone sold 37.1 million ounces of Silver Canadian Maple Leaf Coins, and they are far from the world’s only producer of silver coins.

There are dozens of mints and refiners around the world that make and sell investment-grade and collectible silver coins.

International silver coins can be a reliable source of value. If you’ve recently inherited or come into possession of a coin collection, you may discover that some of them were made internationally. Before you start looking for a place to sell silver coins, let’s take a look at how you can identify and value international silver coins. You always want to have an estimate of what a coin collection could be worth before selling.

The World’s Largest Producers of Silver Bullion Coins

First, we’ll overview some of the largest producers of silver coins around the world. They make some of the most widely-purchased investment-grade coins in the world and collectively produce hundreds of millions of ounces of silver bullion annually.

Royal Canadian Mint:The RCM is best known for its Silver Canadian Maple Leaf, a 99.99% pure silver bullion coin, but it also produces a wide range of commemorative and collectible silver coins, often celebrating historic anniversaries, Canadian heritage and wildlife, and pop culture.

United States Mint:The U.S. Mint’s bestseller remains the American Silver Eagle, with millions sold each year, but it also has several other running series like the Liberty Silver Medal and Morgan and Peace Silver Dollars. It has several production facilities, including Philadelphia, San Francisco, Denver, and West Point. The rich history of silver coins in the United States, combined with the robust domestic market for bullion, makes the United States Mint responsible for some of the most valuable silver coins in the world.

Austrian Mint:For over 800 years, the Austrian Mint in Vienna has been producing silver coins. Today, its bullion-grade coin is the Austrian Silver Philharmonic, one of the most popular coins in Europe.

Mexican Mint:Mexico has long been famous for its precious metal deposits, and the Casa de Moneda de Mexico manufactures high-quality gold and silver bullion coins. The Silver Libertad has a relatively low mintage, meaning it tends to be more expensive and has a higher value for investors and collectors.

Perth Mint:The Perth Mint is Australia’s source of gold and silver bullion, and it has been in operation since 1899. Its popular silver coins include the Silver Kangaroo and the Lunar series, though it also produces a range of commemorative coins.

Royal Mint:Located in the U.K., the Royal Mint is responsible for the Silver Britannia and a number of commemorative coins. The Silver Britannia has had an unlimited mintage since 2016, meaning it manufactures as many per year as are ordered, making it a relatively affordable and easily accessible coin. A minting mistake in 2014 led to the minting of 17,000 silver Britannia 1-ounce coins with the wrong image on the obverse, celebrating the Year of the Horse, and the mistake has become a fascinating collector’s item.

South African Mint:Best known for the Gold Krugerrand, the South African Mint also manufactures the Silver Krugerrand and other collectible silver coins. The South African Mint is famous as the Gold Krugerrand is widely regarded as the world’s first bullion coin, becoming the unrivalled choice of investors interested in bullion long before competitors entered the market.

Chinese Mint:The Chinese Silver Panda is another world-renowned bullion coin. What collectors love about the Silver Panda is that every year the design of the panda changes, making each year its own unique specimen. The obverse features an unchanging image of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, part of the iconic Temple of Heaven complex in Beijing. Thanks to the unique designs of the panda, older Silver Pandas can garner quite a bit of collectible value.

An antique United States silver quarter dollar.

World Numismatics: Collectibles from Around the World

While the above mints are among the most common silver bullion coins you can find, they are not the world’s only producers of pure silver coins. There are a number of smaller mints around the globe that generate a lot of revenue producing commemorative silver coins for collectors with low mintages and unique, creative designs. In some cases, small countries like Niue have turned to silver coins as an innovative way of raising revenue. Examples include:

  • Cameroon Mint
  • Ghana Mint
  • Poland Mint
  • Niue Mint (made by the New Zealand Mint on behalf of the government of Niue)
  • And more.

These collectible coins tend to be priced very differently from standard bullion coins like the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf, even though they are usually also made of 99.9% silver or higher. They feature detailed, innovative designs that you won’t find from more standardized coins typically used by investors. These are coins prized by collectors who are drawn to the quality craftsmanship and unique designs. Not only do they tend to be more expensive in the primary market, but you can also often earn more on secondary markets if you can find the right buyer.

Professional silver buyers can find the right collectors who are interested in coins like these and offer a fair price for coins that may be worth more than their silver content.

Private Refiners: The Difference Between Silver Coins vs. Rounds

Last but not least, there are also private refiners who make a variety of silver collectibles. These include companies like PAMP Suisse, Asahi Refining, Valcambi, and others. Their minted products include both bars and rounds.

A silver round will look just like a coin, but there is a technical difference. Silver coins have a face value in the currency produced by the state-operated mint that makes them, just like paper currency or circulation coins with no precious metals material. Only state-operated mints can manufacture coins. In terms of legal status, silver rounds are the same as bars.

How Much Are Your Coins Worth?

When you inherit a coin collection, one of the biggest challenges is determining the silver content of each individual coin. Selling a collection as a whole can be a mistake unless the buyer has valued each individual piece.

At Muzeum, we’ve paid millions of dollars to Canadians selling their precious metals and coins. We offer a free in-person evaluation on all bullion and collectibles, where we can assess the value of your coins. Thanks to our large network of collectors, we understand the market for collectibles beyond the value of bullion alone. The value of collectibles can be very difficult to determine on your own.

Identifying Silver Bullion: Coins Can Tell You Right Away

You can also do some of your own research before you bring in your coin collection. While you can do some research on collectibles online, such as searching for similar coins or products online, it’s much easier to determine the base value of bullion.

A coin made from silver bullion has a purity of at least 99.9% silver. This is the minimum that silver products can have to be included in a registered retirement account like an RRSP in Canada or an IRA in the United States.

A bullion coin will have its weight and purity stamped on at least one face, usually the reverse or “tails” side of the coin (the opposite of the obverse, which typically features the face of a prominent person or head of state, i.e., “heads”). For example, a one-ounce silver bullion coin would have “1 oz” and “999 pure silver” minted onto the reverse. The purity could also be higher at 9999, meaning 999.9 parts per thousand.

Once you have this information, it should be easy to look up what silver buyers are willing to pay for an ounce of pure silver, assuming the coin has no numismatic value or special interest to collectors.

If a coin does not have this information minted on it, it is not likely pure silver. It may still have silver content depending on where and when it was made. It was only around the mid-20th century that mints stopped using silver in their circulation coins.

A collection of older international silver coins.

The Value of Collectible Coins

There are several types of collectible coins that you may discover in a coin collection. These include:

  • Commemorative coins and special editions or series.
  • Rare and historical coins.
  • Coins featuring an error in the minting, making them uniquely hard to find.

One way to start finding out if the coins you own have collectible value is to look them up online. Numismatists have a wealth of information, including catalogues and forums. That said, a professional evaluation will give you the most accurate idea of the value of your coins. Keep in mind that an evaluation is not the same as an appraisal. An appraisal can be expensive, and it is often used for insurance purposes. Only get an appraisal if you already know your collection is extremely valuable and needs special insurance coverage.

Maintaining the Value of Your Coins

If you’ve recently come into ownership of your coin collection, you should know how to maintain the value of silver coins. Hopefully, the person you inherited them from already took these steps, but silver coins should be stored in a cool, dry spot with minimal exposure to air. Ideally, they would even be stored in capsules or tubes or a non-plastic, non-PVC sleeve. Keep them out of direct sunlight and avoid moisture, all of which can cause tarnishing.

Importantly, cleaning silver coins is not something you should do if you ever plan to sell them. Cleaning silver coins risks damaging them. Older, historically-valuable collectible coins have a patina or tone that often adds value to the coin. Cleaning it can remove that extra value, as the condition of the coin becomes degraded, and collectors lose interest. Condition is an important factor in numismatics, and you should take care to maintain your collection.

The world of numismatics is a large one, and a coin collection can have a number of international silver coins. At Muzeum, we’re not limited to Canadian silver coins. We’re proud to buy and sell silver coins from across the globe.

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