Buying silver coins can be exciting. From their shine to their design, silver coins are intrinsically beautiful. How do they achieve such detail and what goes into the creation of a silver coin? Find out how some of the country's most popular silver coins are typically manufactured and what to pay attention to before buying silver coins, especially for the first time.
The Mint: Where It All Begins
There are six United States Mint facilities across the country: in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, PA, Denver, CO, San Francisco, CA, West Point, NY, and Fort Knox, KY, and each facility has specific responsibilities. Some are primarily used for bullion storage, like Fort Knox, while others focus on the administration and management of the entire system, as the Washington facility does. In particular, the West Point Mint is responsible for the production of all uncirculated and one-ounce silver bullion coins, as well as the manufacturing of the entire family of Proof American Eagle Coins. Many of U.S. Money Reserve's silver coins are produced at the U.S. Mint at West Point. Legal tender silver coins may also be minted at other world-renowned government minting institutions, like Australia's Perth Mint.
What is minting? A “mint” is a facility that manufactures coins to be used for currency. It is a place where money is coined. Accordingly, “minting” is the process by which a metal is stamped and made into coins.
The Minting Process: How Silver Coins Are Made
The following outlines how silver coins are generally made, but the process may vary depending on the facility and the type of coin that's being minted.
1. An artist creates the coin's design
First, a coin must be designed. Some coins, like the Silver American Eagle, have long maintained their design and historical significance. On the obverse side, the Silver American Eagle features a modern interpretation of Adolph A. Weinman's design that was used on “Walking Liberty” half dollars between 1916 and 1947. The design is described by the U.S. Mint as “a full-length figure of Liberty in full stride, enveloped in folds of the flag, with her right hand extended and branches of laurel and oak in her left,” symbolizing both civil and military glory. The reverse side, depicting a heraldic eagle with a shield, was designed by U.S. Mint sculptor-engraver John Mercanti. The eagle has arrows in the right talon and an olive branch in its left. A coin may be designed by one or more artists, engravers, sculptors, or painters. The design of some coins, like the exclusive Pearl Harbor Silver Coin from U.S. Money Reserve, is kept confidential until it is officially released to the public.
Silver American Eagle Coins can act as building blocks for your precious metals portfolio by increasing your portfolio's diversity, as silver can move independently of stocks and other asset classes. These coins are highly liquid, making them easy to buy and sell. What's more, they feature the very symbol of our nation's freedom—the American Eagle. Call 1-844-307-1589 to see how you can enjoy the beauty and artistry of the American Silver Eagle Coin in the palm of your hand.
2. Based on the coin's design, a master die is created
Once a coin's design is approved, a pair of master dies are made and the coin's manufacturing process can begin. A die is a metallic piece, usually a steel rod, that contains an inverse version of the design that is to be pressed into the coin. In a way, dies are kind of like rubber stamps, as the design on a stamp is used to create multiple copies of the same image. Dies are used in the same way.
3. Silver is melted, poured & extruded
Next, silver is melted and poured into a tube to form what's known as a “billet.” A billet looks like a solid cylinder of silver. The billet is then softened so that it can be put through an extruder, wherein it is shaped into long, thin strips of silver. The strips are examined for scratches and damage.
4. Strips of silver are “punched” into the desired weight
Smaller strips of silver are fed through a press. The press “punches” the silver strip into 1 oz. rounds (or whatever the desired coin weight might be). The resulting pieces are called “blanks,” as they look like blank silver coins. Each blank is weighed to ensure that the desired coin weight has been achieved.
This is how American Silver Eagle Coins begin their life at the U.S. Mint at West Point—as blanks. The mint receives pre-made silver blanks from private vendors. These blanks are verified for purity by the mint's internal lab before heading out onto the manufacturing floor.
5. The silver blanks are cleaned & burnished
At this point, the blanks may be cleaned in a solution of soap, water, and small ball bearings, which remove scratches, rough spots, or blemishes from the surface of the soon-to-be coin. Without this step, silver bullion and certified coins would not have the brilliant shine that they do!
6. The coins are “struck” with their design
After the blanks have been cleaned and polished, the coin's final design is pressed into both sides. Now the coin is said to be “struck.”
7. The coins are inspected & shipped
Once a coin is made, it is inspected and may be polished again before being prepared for shipment.
After They're Minted: What to Consider When Buying Silver Coins
“Silver coin demand remains strong for 2016,” writes Kitco. The more you know about silver coins, like how they're minted, priced, packaged, etc., the more informed as a silver buyer you'll be as the year comes to an end and a new year begins. Now that you know how silver coins are generally manufactured, consider the following when making your purchase, especially if you’re buying silver coins for the very first time.
- Who are you buying from? Research the company you're considering buying silver coins from. Take into account the length of time they've been in business, the number of clients they've served, and whether they can be trusted. U.S. Money Reserve, for instance, is one of the largest government-issued silver coin distributors in the country and is trusted by over 4500,000 clients and counting. Watch these testimonials to hear directly from our clients.
- Why are you buying silver coins? Understanding the financial goals you'd like to achieve will help you choose the right type of silver for your needs. Ask yourself, are you looking for growth, protection, or a thoughtful gift to pass on to future generations?
- What type of silver coin are you buying? There are generally two types of silver coins: silver bullion coins and certified silver coins. Both can help you diversify your precious metals portfolio as they address different aspects of your financial goals. Learn more about the type of silver that could be right for you.
Take the Next Step
Silver prices forecast to average between $22 and $24 an ounce in 2017, says Maxwell Gold, director of strategy at ETF Securities, which means there’s no better time to enhance your understanding of silver. At U.S. Money Reserve, we specialize in educating clients not only on the silver industry, but on how silver itself can better protect their assets. Each of our Account Executives brings professional experience to precious metals ownership, and each one aims to build a meaningful, long-lasting relationship with every client. Call 1-844-307-1589 to learn more about silver coins and experience the U.S. Money Reserve difference. Account Executives are standing by to answer your call and are ready to discuss how silver can be used to increase your portfolio diversification, hedge against innumerable economic risks, and limit your family's exposure to potential market declines.