My Silver American Indian Chiefs Set
The previous “From The Mint” blog detailed the spot price of silver. Though other precious metals like gold and copper were discussed, the focus was mainly on silver and the fact that the cost of silver was climbing. But now that you are knowledgeable about spot prices, I can say, “The spot price is running up.” The last I looked up silver’s spot price, it was $27.09. (Remember it is constantly changing, so my number may not match yours exactly). Silver has been trading around that twenty-seven dollar mark since its climb to that level in early August, spiking to $29 but still below its all-time high of $48 back in 2011.
As I was writing about the climb in silver pricing last month, I started thinking about the silver I have. Perhaps it is time to start gathering it up to maybe sell and make a few dollars.
My father bought me a series of collectible pure silver rounds back in 1979 as a gift. I remember him saying to me, “If the price of silver goes up, you may be able to use these to put a down payment on a house.” WOW how times have changed, even at $48/ounce I am not sure the rounds would work as a down payment.
Each of these collectible rounds are 1 oz , .999 fine silver and feature famous American Indian Leaders. The American Indian Leaders Historic Medal Collection has 48 rounds, complete with a wooden display/storage box and a series of individualized information cards, noting facts about the leader engraved on the round. The box of silver rounds has been in the safety deposit box for at least 20 years; I have not seen them or thought about them for a long time. Perfect timing; I can go get them and if the spot price peaks, I will be ready to “cash them in.”
First, let’s check them out:
Each round is engraved with the terms 1 troy oz of.999 fine silver. What does the .999 fine silver mean? These numbers combined with the phrase depict pure silver, .999 = 99.9% silver. Sometimes called “3-nines,”silver of this caliber has been mined and refined multiple times to achieve the label of fine silver. There is even another process that takes silver a step further to .9999 or 99.99% pure and referenced as “4-nines.” This series of nines represents the millesimal fineness of precious metal and depicts the amount of pure element they include. Only silver refined to these degrees can be called “fine” or “pure silver.” Fine silver is primarily reserved for bullion, and is the only form of silver with trade and investment value.
FYI: Bullion is gold, silver, or other precious metals in the form of bars, ingots, or specialized coins that is said to maintain its worth better than conventional currencies and is therefore kept as a form of emergency currency by both governments and private citizens alike.
Silver bullion is typically formed into 1, 5, 10 and 100 ounce silver bars (by far the most popular size) only by sovereign mints. These bars have very limited decoration; primarily they have the level of silver purity, the weight and the brand for the mint where minted. If you want a more artistic means to collect silver, pure silver is also used in collectible rounds like my 1 oz, .999 fine silver American Indian Leaders. Collectible rounds make very popular investments, as they command a higher value than spot price alone because of the complexity and craftsmanship involved in minting them.
The London Bullion Market Association, one of the world’s premier metal exchanges, issued what has become the official requirement for silver bullion known as “Good Delivery” standards. These stringent requirements specify the size, weight, markings and purity of bullion bars, mandating that silver bars must be .999 pure to trade on the exchange. Good delivery is now the standard for silver bullion trading across the globe.
There are other popular levels of silver aside from the investment rank. Many of us know about sterling silver which is 92.5% silver and 7.5% supportive metals. By itself, silver is extremely soft. Metals like aluminum, zinc, nickel and copper are added to silver to make it more malleable and durable. Traditionally we see sterling silver used for jewelry, art and tableware. Another less popular level of silver purity is Brittania silver that is 95.8% silver and 4.16% copper. This level of silver has been used throughout history for coins. Over time the amount of silver in coinage, particularly US Mint coins, was established at 90% silver and 10% copper. In the US these current echelons for coin metals are dictated by the United States Federal Trade Commission.
The differentiator between collectible rounds and actual currency is that all currency is minted only by a sovereign governmental mint. These coins have not only their silver value, but a face value recognized by the denomination of the coin. For example, the actual 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar that we wrote about months ago as part of the American Legacy Collection was minted by the US Mint with 90% silver and 10% copper/zinc. This amount of silver used for the 1964 Kennedy coin was more than double the silver used in post 1964 mintings. This made the 1964 rounds with approximately 11.25 grams of silver in them the least circulated and perhaps the most coveted collectible of all US coins. Here we get to use our spot pricing again ($27.09) to estimate of the pure silver value of these beauties. Each 1964 Kennedy Half Dollar has a silver value of at least $9.79. Even if the spot price of silver were to drop to pennies, the monetary value to the coin will remain the same. This too is an advantage of collecting real currency; there is a face value should the spot price tank.
Most of the world’s larger mints craft a signature silver coin from fine silver that holds both its face value and silver spot price value. These pieces represent and honor the mints that produce them. The US Mint issues the American Eagle, Royal Canadian Mint issues the Silver Maple Leaf and the Royal Mint in London produces silver Britannia. Each of these pieces is both collectible for art and for investment.
So what to do with my collection of rounds:
Like I said, I received these rounds back in 1979. The promotion was sold exclusively by JC Penney’s credit department. They partnered with a private mint from Cincinnati. This was a limited edition set with only 5,000 complete versions available. My father was able to get #945 one of the first 1,000 collections. Great number! This is where it gets weird. As I am “inspecting” the collection, I see something familiar. These rounds were designed, engraved and sold through the Osborne Mint. What? Osborne Mint? That’s where I work! How can that be, a set of rounds that I have had for over 40 years was crafted by the company I now work for? You can’t script that!
If I do sell them, using our current spot price of $27.09 with 48, one ounce, .999 fine silver rounds, the value of the set comes to just over $1,300. I would only want to sell them if the price were high, remember to always buy low and sell high. Well, these cost me zero, so let’s get all we can for them.
What do you think I should do with them?
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