Where and how to buy Silver

Silver can be bought in a multitude of forms at a number of places, from online dealers to pawnshops to neighbors, to banks. Lets cover some possibilities starting with most obvious to more obscure.

Available forms of Silver and Gold:
(Although we primarily focus on Silver all information applies to Gold investments as well)

Silver can be bought in coins, bars, various scrap items with silver content, household items with high silver content.
For the purpose of investment best options are those that can be purchased at a good price and are easily liquidated if need be. Lets cover a few options:

Silver Coins, Silver Bullion Coins, Junk Silver

Best coins for investment are officially minted Silver bullion coin of the country you are in. Being in Canada, Silver Maple Leafs, 1 troy Ounce 5 dollar coin is a prime form of investment.

Royal Canadian Mint produces a wide variety of coinage made with precious metals and sells them at a hefty premium on it’s website or through the bank and postal service. Those coins, other then bullion coin such as Maple Leaf, are still valuable , but have additional price attached for rarity and collectability, in other words numismatic value.As an investor in Silver you should not concern yourself with numismatic values but rather with intrinsic value of silver content in any given coin. Coins that are less then pure will obviously cost less to buy, but will also cost less to sell, have less demand and will be more difficult to price accurately. If they are a good deal, buy them otherwise stick to the bullion coin for a 100% quality investment.

Old, antique or world coins or any denomination or origin not having numismatic value but only verified silver content are considered “Junk Silver” they are sometimes bought and sold in bags called 500.00 Face Value Bag or 1000.00 Face Value Bag, meaning a mixed bag of quarters, silver dollars, other coins containing high percentage of silver with total value at $500.00. or a $1000.One exception is a Silver Buffalo Round. It is not a coin but rather a bullion round from an unofficial mint.

Their design is based on the Indian Head nickel, also known as the Buffalo nickel, which was minted between 1913 and 1938. Buffalo silver rounds are not produced by the US Mint, but rather by a private mints. They have no official connection with either the Indian Head nickel or the American gold buffalo coin, but is rather inspired by their design. On the obverse of the private mint issued round is a portrait of a Native American man along with the word “LIBERTY” at the top right edge. On its reverse is an image of a buffalo, along with the purity and fineness listing of “.999 FINE SILVER” along the top edge above the buffalo, along with the weight description “ONE TROY OUNCE” below the buffalo at the bottom of the coin. It has a diameter of 37 mm. Since they are not officially minted bullion coins but rather silver rounds, silver buffalos can be bought at significantly lower premiums than officially minted silver coins like the American Silver Eagle and the Canadian Silver Maple. They will, of course, sell for a lower price to, and since they are not world famous like silver eagles or maples.  But silver bullion is silver bullion, and buffalo silver rounds are an efficient way to invest in silver at prices closer to spot price.

Silver Bullion Bars

There are a number of sizes of bars available from 1 oz wafers to kilo or more bricks. Commonly, bars are bought in 10-100 oz. weights. They are affordable, easily stacked and stored in a safe or safety deposit box.
Bars are definitely more difficult to identify and authenticate. Some have been in circulation for 20-30 years or more. Others come from unknown sources and may require an assay to proove their purity. Like with coins, best bars are the ones everybody knows and trusts. Royal Canadian Mint produces 100 Oz. bars, NTR is another trusted producer, as is age old Engelhard and Johnson Matthey. When buying bars concider simple fact that if the price of silver reaches $100.00/Oz and all you have is a kilo brick it may be awkward to try to quickly sell $30,000.00 load if you just need a bit of cash.

Junk Silver and Sterling Silver

Silver can be bough in random forms from spoons to electronic parts to what ever. Some item are impossible to value therefore forget them unless you are prepared to commit to large quantity that can be refined, assay done and authenticated. Either not a profitable or complicated process. However, Sterling Silver is an exception because it is marked, labeled and generally fairly consistent in it’s purity.
Sterling Silver household items or silverware is common enough and can be found in pawnshops, thrift stores, grannies attics. It is priced substantially lower then other forms, never the less at a right price it is still Silver. Some Pawnshops will offer you 50% of the spot price for your Sterling Silver, research your market if you are going to buy some.

  • Buying Silver/Gold Coins and Bars from an online bullion dealer
  • Buying Silver /Gold Coins and Bars from the Bank
  • Buying Silver from coin dealers or coin & stamp shops
  • Buying Silver or Gold on Ebay or other online classifieds
  • Buying Silver in the Pawnshops or Thrift stores
  • Buying Junk Silver or Sterling Silver

Buying Silver/Gold Coins and Bars from an online bullion dealer

Easy and safe once you have established the dealer you prefer to buy from. Generally speaking the price will be a slight premium, but the benefit is simplicity of the transaction and usually insured shipping to your door.
I would recommend making a small purchase first to see how everything works and if you are happy with your experience that’s it.
Some dealers will let you pickup from their location some don’t, shipping can be a small factor when you are only buying  10 Oz. at a time. Look for a local dealer from whom you can pickup. I find that buying 50 Oz or more, shipping is no big deal. If you are investing for 5-10 year terms, shipping is even less of a factor, but do try to buy as close to market as possible.

We list some online dealers in our local Canadian Silver Bullion Dealers Directory and try to verify their business status and will introduce rating and reviews as soon as possible.

Buying Silver /Gold Coins and Bars from the Bank

Buying from the bank is somewhat more complicated. Very few banks if any will actually stock bars and coins ready to sell. Royal Bank will first fill out a request form that it sends to it’s commodity trading division, you cannot be garrantied a purchase price at that time, price will be confirmed next day when the request is recieved and processed, which is lame, since price tomorrow may not be what it is today and they already have your money.

Yes, they will take payment based on the price that day and will adjust price of amount upon delivery. That is my experience first hand.

Bank will charge a premium price plus commission of about $7.00 for 10 Oz. purchase. On a day with spot price of 29.00 I was charged 36.00 / Oz plus commission 7.00 on a 10 Oz  ( Maple’s test) order. Physical delivery within a week. Not my idea of a great transaction, but in the absence of alternatives this may be the only option for somebody.
Major banks downtown large city may be able to expedite the process but the price will be high and they will want to put it through your account. I had to insist on a cash transaction without an account record, which seemed like a major nuisance to them but nevertheless possible. You have to be a client in that bank to purchase Silver or Gold from it.

Buying Silver from coin dealers or coin & stamp shops

My least favorite place to acquire Silver. Although fully stocked shops tend to sell at astronomically high prices over spot. Now this may only be my experience, but it is so in Victoria, BC, I visited.
Regarding quality and safety of the transactions it is a fine place to shop. Most coin shops have been around for a long time and they have plenty of experience with coins of every caliber. They charge premium on Silver and Collectible value of other types of Silver coins so generally speaking, unless you have to get some Silver NOW!!! this will not be a place to find a bargain or even a GOOD price. Neither it is a place to sell anything at a fair price, they are in the coin business and it is very apparent.

Buying Silver or Gold on Ebay or other online classifieds

Obviously buying online has an element of risk so usually reputable sellers on Ebay are prefered customers. Craig’s list is hit and miss, however you can always look for local pickup opportunities where you can see what you are buying and take it home right there and then. Same goes for other types of classifieds, like Used Victoria, Used Vancouver, etc, etc.

Ebay has another advantage is that most sellers will take PAYPAL payments which are most often well protected by Ebay and PAYPAL, there are fees for sellers and exchange rates to consider on small purchases. Otherwise, I prefer Ebay to Kijiji, Craig’s list or other for silver purchases. As demand grows you start seeing better quantities of Silver being traded at good prices. Beware of Composite Bars ( Silver plated Copper) and Coins that cannot be verified for exact silver composition.

I would stick to Maple Leafs, Silver Eagles, Austrian Philharmonics.

Buying Silver in the Pawnshops or Thrift stores

Silver items can be bought cheaply at thrift stores and sometimes in pawnshops too. Pawnshops of a good size will buy silver themselves and are also happy to take Sterling Silver off your hands at 50% spot price. Today pawnshops almost have no coins. Random items show up now and then, but it takes skill to determine their value on the spot, no pun intended. Thrift stores have abundance of silverware items, but be careful, most of it is plate, meaning silver plated. Items named Sterling are easily identified, keep in mind their low resale value.

Buying Junk Silver or Sterling Silver

Is a pawnshop and thrift stores part II. Junk Silver can be coins or items with high silver content. Sterling Silver is often 90% and is a good “Junk” if a large silverware chest comes your way and the price is right keep it, baring in mind lower resale value and complications when liquidating. I would not advise to go this route, but if the price is right it can be a worthwhile investment.

Keep a small magnet handy, like the rare earth, super strong magnets available at Lee Valley for a couple of bucks. If the markings are unclear you will be able to tell if it is silver with a magnet to which it should not react and by a nice bright chime if you cling it together. To most advanced treasure hunters and scavengers here is a link to a comprehensive directory of silverware marks by American silversmiths of the past few centuries.