Ten years ago, silver left the $5-per-ounce mark behind for good and winked at $8 an ounce.
By 2007, the price of silver was flirting with twice that amount and by 2010, it was going steady with $20. The anticipated fling with the $50 mark almost happened in 2011 but then came the break-up. The $30 range stuck around for the next two years and then left. Throughout 2014, the price of silver has bounced back and forth between $18 and $22 per ounce, unable to commit.
Many bullion collectors remain bullish about silver, but with an economy still in recovery they want low-cost options. Happily, world mints have been making it easier for everyone to buy silver by introducing smaller size silver coins. One ounce is no longer the rule.
To qualify for our exercise, the coin must state its own weight and purity. Pure silver (.999) and sterling (.925) are the most common standards. Some nations issue half-ounce coins annually, and in other cases they are part of a thematic series. Not all items here are true bullion coins (issued at prices relative to the precious metal value), but they meet these other requirements. Here are just eight examples to consider.
The Canadian Maple Leaf silver series is 26 years old but is never boring, thanks to many collector versions that are offshoots of the bullion series.
The Royal Canadian Mint has issued Maple Leafs with different designs, in several sizes, unique finishes, in color, gilded, and for 2014, even imbedded with genuine jade. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the series in 2003, an unusual hologram version was made, including a half-ounce $4 size. How this coin looks depends completely on the angle of viewing and on the quality of light present.
Between 1992 and 1998, Mexico issued a high number of silver coins showcasing the pre-Columbian history of the nation, 17 designs of which are on half-ounce silver coins.
The Teotihuacan collection of coins was the fifth of six collections making up the pre-Columbian series. Teotihuacan coins concluded with the Disc of Death or “Disco de la Muerte” piece, a half-ounce pure silver 2-peso coin. The design includes a stone emblem of a skull surrounded by rays.
Among the repeating Australian half-ounce silver coins are several animal designs like the Koala bullion 50-cent piece. Kookaburras, kangaroos, and great white sharks are just three of the other animals that have been feted the same way.
Other topics honored in the half-ounce silver size include the Lunar Year, Australian Outback, Sealife, Birds, and Bush Babies.