GENERIC BARS AND ROUNDS
These are created by privately owned and operated mints, and will typically have limited to no art value with essentially unlimited mintage. “Barebones” silver bars and rounds carry very low premiums above spot price and are therefore the cheapest and purest play for owning physical silver strictly for silver’s price appreciation. To stack the maximum amount of physical silver at the lowest possible cost with no regard to art value, this is the best way to go.
Generic Stackable Rounds
Stackable rounds such as the 2 troy ounce Scottsdale Stacker shown below have a unique feature, where the rounds created have physical features on them that they can stack and interlock neatly on top of each other.
The obverse of the round protrudes outward, while the reverse is indented in the same shape to allow easy stacking!
LIMITED MINTAGE BARS AND ROUNDS
Without the restrictions of creating and minting a government backed coin’s designs, private mints can get very creative on what to put onto the face of an ounce of silver. Here, the round’s art popularity will drive its demand and value appreciation.
The ideal combination for picking winners here will be:
1) High artistic value creating a strong demand
2) Limited mintage
3) Low premiums over spot price
And if the round is part of a set that meets these first 3 criteria,
4) The first round in the set will generally tend to carry the highest premium
During a round’s limited mintage run, the premiums over spot price will certainly be higher than the premium on a generic, unlimited mintage round. However, these rounds can often be obtained at similar premiums compared to sovereign coins. Once the mintage of a round ends, if the popularity and demand of the round is still high, the price on the round can escalate.
The round shown below is the first in the Privateer Series, created by Elemetal Mint. It is a 2 troy ounce round, with the same diameter as most coins and rounds but a thicker, chunkier edge. Shortly after its final mintage of 70,000 came to an end, the price climbed slowly until the dealers sold out. With the further releases in the Pirate themed set continuing to drive strong demand, the price of this set’s first release in the secondary market continued to climb and has reached about $80 each! And this is despite the spot price being under $17 per ounce.
Buying the first release of the Privateer series during its mintage at a few dollars over spot price would have been a solid investment with limited downside and a pretty high ceiling.
Rule of thumb: Do not try to collect everything as there is simply too much to collect, and more new stuff constantly coming out. All of these rounds will be touted as limited mintage and soon to be sold out, but a lot of them will still be hit and miss. If the artwork is terrible, it’s a miss for sure – meaning it won’t be worth much more than the price of silver similar to a generic round. Even if the artwork is good a round may still not have a demand, meaning the price upside is limited. Be selective when buying limited mintage rounds, holding items that you can enjoy for its beauty whether it sells well or not. Also remember that the larger the premium that is paid over spot, the harder it becomes to get a good return off the price that is paid.
The Modern Ancients are created by GoldSilver. These rounds are modeled from a design of an “ancient” coin and redone in a “modern” fashion. Minted only for a few months at a time, these are a terrific looking high quality series of rounds that have a low premium over spot and maintain strong demand well after each of its mintages are complete.
Famed coin sculptor Heidi Wastweet created this fantastic looking round, Veritas Lux Mea. The mint that produced “the Lux” went out of business, and these rounds are now almost impossible to find.
Certain art rounds just catch the eye through its beauty and elegance. Satosan Metals released this gorgeous round titled Tsukiakari of a young woman in a lake under the moonlight.
High Relief Rounds
Coins and rounds have several features to them. The most basic features are a device and a field. The device is the design of the coin or round, and it could be the head of a president or an animal, or it can also be a phrase or the date. The field is the background behind the device.
A device can be imprinted into the surface of the coin or round, and this is known as incuse. If the device is raised up from the field, this is called relief. In many cases, the outer circle of the surface known as the rim is raised up above the relief to allow stacking without damage to the device. In some instances, a high relief round may even have the device protrude above the rim.
Over the years, as the technology on minting coins and rounds continually improved, certain designs became more three dimensional than standard coins and rounds. This ability to create a relief image that rises higher off the coin or round is called high relief. These coins and rounds require special machines and multiple strikes. As a result, the cost over premium will generally be higher.
In the picture above, the 3D image is remarkable. The pirate is practically walking off the plank and off of the round itself. Notice that the rim appears to be very high off the surface to protect the high relief.