Silver bullion bars are another popular way of investing in silver although not quite as popular as Silver American Eagles, Canadian Maple Leafs or pre-1965 U.S./pre-1968 Canadian silver coins.
Common sizes are 1 ounce, 5 ounce, 10 ounce and 100 ounce silver bars. 1000 ounce silver bars are available but, because of their size and weight (80 pounds), it is common for investors to pay an institution to store them rather than take physical possession.
Pictured at left is a 10 ounce silver bar. Most bars contain a "Hallmark" identifying the manufacturer (refiner), weight and purity. In this case Johnson Matthey, one of the top refiners of silver bars, has included their logo and stamped a serial number on this .999 silver bullion bar.Why should you consider investing in silver bars? Probably the main reason is you can usually get more silver for your money than with other forms of silver because of the lower premiums. Although there are different types and themes, I recommend staying with those bars that contain the Hallmarks/Logos of the refiner which state the weight in troy ounces and silver fineness with .999 pure silver most common. See the one ounce examples below (click on image for a larger view).
One of the most respected
producers of silver bullion bars was the Engelhard
Corporation. They began producing silver bars in the
mid-1970's and continued through 1988 when precious metals
prices dropped and demand became too low for them to continue.
They are still somewhat easy to find and if you can locate any
bar (gold, silver or platinum) or gold and silver rounds (e.g.
Prospectors) produced by Engelhard that fits your investing
budget, don't hesitate to buy (see warning below).
The most common sizes of
Engelhard silver bars are the standard one troy ounce, the 10
troy ounce and the 100 troy ounce but they also produced
several "odd" sizes such as 5 gram, 10 gram, 3 ounce, 7 ounce,
500 gram, etc. These non-standard sizes were produced in much
You can expect to pay more for
the standard Engelhard products versus similar products from
other producers/refiners. Not only are they no longer
produced, they remain an investor favorite due to their
excellent reputation as quality products. And because the odd
size silver bars are much harder to find and much in demand,
expect to pay even higher premiums when buying, and insist on
a good price over their silver melt value when selling.
There are a few good online
sources of information regarding Engelhard silver bars. But
the most comprehensive site I found is at All Engelhard. Under the "Definitive Pages"
heading, you can select which weight(s) you are interested in
and proceed to detailed information such as mintage totals and
Unfortunately there are a number of very good counterfeit silver bars available. How good? Take a look at the "silver" bars offered on this site and note the prices. The page contains silver-plated bars (with brass, zinc or other cheap metal core) with the Engelhard hallmark. But there are other famous names on this site too such as Johnson Matthey, Pan American Silver and Sunshine Mint.
You must be careful not only what you are buying but who you are buying from. My suggestion is to deal with a licensed/reputable dealer for these purchases. The premiums may be higher but the honest dealers know how to weed out the fakes plus stand behind their products. If you decide to try your luck at one of the auction sites or Craigslist, you will encounter fakes sooner or later.