In response to some reader requests, I wanted to provide a post which showcases and reviews the various 2013-dated Silver Bullion Coin offerings from around the world.
Many mints from around the world produce high quality bullion priced coins which often feature rotating designs and carry limited mintages. In most cases, these are available for a modest premium above the spot price of silver during the year of release. While not generally the lowest premium method for acquiring silver bullion, these coins provide a showcase of the variety and artistry available from the mints, which should be pleasing to coin collectors and bullion investors alike.
To prepare this post, I recently purchased one example each of some of the most popular one ounce silver bullion coins from various world mints. This article will provide an image of each coin, the cost, a brief description of the design, some comments on the finish and quality, and any pertinent information on mintage. The coins are presented in no particular order.
Please keep in mind that the comments on quality refer to the single coin purchased, and will obviously vary from coin to coin. Also, the pricing is from a single dealer, at a single point in time, and for buying just a single coin. Always shop around for the best prices by checking a variety of sources and expect lower prices for buying in volume or paying by check/wire. Click on any image for a larger version.
Mexico: 2013 Silver Libertad
Cost: Spot + $5.57
The obverse design features the Winged Victory statue with the volcanoes Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl in the background. The reverse contains the Mexican National Seal featuring an eagle with a snake in its mouth surrounded by historical Mexican coats of arms.
Both sides of the coin feature a uniformly frosted finish, which is distinct from the other world silver bullion coins examined. The quality of this piece is generally good, but there are a few tiny breaks in the frost scattered in the fields.
In recent years, the annual mintage level for the one ounce sized coins seems to have been around 1 million. The mintage levels for some of the fractional sized versions have been extremely small.
Canada: 2013 Silver Maple Leaf
Cost: Spot + $5.16
The obverse design features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse features a Canadian Maple Leaf.
The portrait and leaf have a mirror like finish against a faintly striated background. On this particular coin, the Queen’s cheek has picked up some chatter and displays some pitting. As the highest point of the design with a mirrored surfaces, I would expect this to occur on many coins of the series.
In recent years, annual mintages for this coin have topped 10 million. This was one of the lowest premium coins purchased in this lot, beat out only by the Philharmonic.
Austria: 2013 Silver Philharmonic
Cost: Spot +5.05
The obverse design features a depiction of the Great Pipe Organ found in the Vienna’s Golden Hall. The reverse features musical instruments including a cello, violins, Vienna horn, bassoon, and harp. These coins have a smooth edge, while every other silver bullion coin examined has a reeded edge.
The coins feature a uniformly brilliant finish which suits the detailed design. This particular coin has a milk spot on the reverse and some contact marks at the base of the central violin. This may have just been a bad coin- in prior years I have purchased rolls containing pristine coins.
In recent years, mintages have exceeded 10 million. The Silver Philharmonic was the absolute lowest cost silver bullion coin of those purchased, but currently only by a slim margin. In prior years when premiums for other bullion coins have spiked, I have seen the premium for the Silver Philharmonics remain low.
Canada: Wildlife Silver Bullion Series
Cost: Spot + $5.57
The obverse design features the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse designs of this series have featured different animals found in Canada. A total of six designs were released carrying dates 2010, 2011, and 2012. This coin represents the fifth design featuring the Pronghorn Antelope. View the other five designs here.
Similar to the Maple Leaf, the portrait and animal design are mirrored against a lightly striated background. This particular coin is in poor condition with some ugly slide marks on the Queen’s check and brow and a contact mark in the left obverse field. The reverse of the coin is problem free. This coin may have just been mishandled. I have purchase other coins of this series in rolls and the quality has been much better.
The mintage for each of the six designs of the series is limited to 1 million, which has served to create a premium for some of the earlier sold out issues. The cost is slightly higher than the typical silver bullion coin.
United States: 2013 American Silver Eagle
Cost: Spot + $5.36
Included for completeness is the one ounce silver bullion offering from the United States. The obverse design features Adolph A. Weinman’s classic rendition of Walking Liberty, and the reverse features a heraldic eagle designed by John Mercanti.
The coins feature a uniformly satin-like finish. This particular coin has some contact marks on Liberty’s extended arm. Besides this, the coin is of generally pleasing quality. Every year, the major grading services certify tens of thousands of these coins in MS70 holders.
These coins are minted to demand, although sometimes subject to suspensions and rationing. Recently, sales have exceeded 30 million per year. The premium charged for this coin was slightly above average. During times of suspension or heavy demand, the premium levels tend to expand quickly.
United Kingdom: 2013 Silver Britannia
Cost: Spot +$7.11
The obverse features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse features a rendition of Britannia by Philip Nathan. Starting this year, the Royal Mint changed the composition of the coins from the traditional Britannia Silver (95.8% purity) to the more standard 99.9% purity. The diameter of the new coins is also slightly smaller.
The coin features uniformly mirror like surfaces. For this coin, both the obverse and reverse have picked up tiny hair line scratches at the higher points. The obverse carries an unattractive hazy splotch over most of the portrait. Collectors have voiced numerous complaints about the quality of the coins this year.
Besides the quality issues, the execution of the design has also changed. Shown above is a side by side image the 2013-dated coin next to a 2012-dated coin. Much less detail is visible throughout, particularly apparent in the folds of the gown and the shield.
In previous years, the Silver Britannia coins had been limited to a mintage of 100,000. Starting in 2013, they are minted to demand with current production already exceeding last year’s total. The premium for this coin is among the highest for those examined, which is does not seem justified given the quality issues and uncapped mintage. In previous years, I bought Silver Britannias in quantity since I found the designs and limited mintages appealing. This year, it looks like I will just buy one.
China: 2013 Silver Panda
Cost: Spot +$10.21
The obverse design features the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (The Temple of Heaven). The reverse features a trio of pandas drinking at a stream with bamboo stalks in the background. The panda design for the coin is changed annually.
The coins use a mixture of mirrored and frosted surfaces to nicely bring out the design. The quality of the coin is excellent, basically near proof. On this particular coin, there is a tiny mark in the obverse field which keeps the coin from being flawless.
For 2013, the one ounce silver coin has a maximum mintage of 8 million. Over the past several years, the maximum mintage level has climbed steadily. As recently as 2010, the mintage limit for this size was only 600,000. The price is the highest of all the coins purchased. The coins come housed in individual capsules.
Perth Mint Australia: 2013 Silver Kookaburra
Cost: Spot + $7.13
The obverse features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse features a depiction of two juvenile kookaburras sitting on a tree branch amid some flowers. The series has featured a new depiction of the iconic birds annually.
The coins feature mixture of proof like and frosted surfaces to compliment the design. This particular coin has a hazy print and some very light hair lines on the obverse. The reverse is excellent.
For 2013, the one ounce size carries a mintage limit of 1 million. As with the Panda, the mintage limit has climbed higher over the past few years. As recently as 2010, the limit was only 300,000. These coins are among the higher cost silver bullion options. Coins come in individual capsules.
Perth Mint Australia: 2013 Silver Koala
Cost: Spot + $6.08
The obverse design once again features the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse features an adult koala sitting in the fork of a tree. This series was recently launched in 2007 and has featured a different depiction of the koala annually.
Similar to the previous coin, a mixture of mirrored and frosted surfaces are used throughout. The quality of this coin is excellent and it appears flawless to my examination.
These coins do not carry a mintage limit, with production to close at the end of the year. The premium is at the higher end, but below the Kookaburra coins. Each coin comes in a capsule.
Perth Mint Australia: 2013 Year of the Snake Silver Lunar
The final coin included in this post is the 2013 Year of the Snake Silver Coin from the Australian Lunar Series II. Unlike the others, I did not purchase it recently, but received it last year within the Type Set Collection.
The obverse features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse feature a snake curling around a tree branch. Each year a new design is created featuring the next animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. The diameter of the coin is larger compared to other silver bullion coins at 45.6 mm.
The coin features frosted background fields with mirrored design elements, which provides a reverse proof appearance. This example appears flawless, the scan just had some dust on it.
Each year, the one ounce sized coins have been offered with a maximum mintage of 300,000. In recent years, this amount has quickly sold out and the coins have taken on premiums. For the Year of the Dragon design, the one ounce coins were immediately selling for more than $100 each.
Rather than chasing the one ounce coins, I have purchased the 1/2 oz, 2 oz, 5 oz, and even the 1 kilo sized coins. These sizes are offered without a mintage limit, which keeps premiums reasonable.