This is the third part of a feature by Rita Laws exploring the
growth in popularity of 5-ounce silver coins over the past four decades.
Once Panama paved the way for large silver coins, it was only a
matter of time before a nation issued a 5-ounce silver coin. But in
between, a bevy of issues approached but just fell short of that
1985: Close but no cigar
By the mid-1980s, big silver was all the rage on the world
collecting stage. Several nations winked at the 5-ounce mark but none
committed until 1986.
The Bahamas issued two large sterling silver $25 coins in 1985. The
San Salvador Christopher Columbus commemorative coin weighed 3.5
ounces. The other, slightly larger at 3.8 ounces, had a twin flamingo
design, a nod to the beloved Bahamian Flamingo $2 coin minted between
1966 and 1991.
Jamaica issued a number of 4-ounce .925 fine silver $25 coins
between 1978 and 1985. The Falklands issued a £25 coin in 1985
celebrating self-sufficiency and weighing 150 grams or 4.82 troy
ounces, according to its certificate of authenticity. So close!
Collectors looking for these coins at online auction sites such as
eBay should know that these are often sold to this day as 5-ounce
silver coins, when they clearly do not weigh that much.
When buying any large silver coin, especially those minted before
1986, it is a good idea to check a reference book for the exact weight
or ask the seller if there is a certificate of authenticity listing
the official weight.
Online buyers should also be careful about purchasing 5-ounce
medallic coinage and fantasy coins marketed as legal tender bullion. A
few of these that appeared in 1985 and 1986 include the Liechtenstein
10-taler piece, the Austrian 5-unze piece, the Netherlands 5-daalder
piece, and the Chinese Panda silver 5-ounce medal.
All of these are listed in the sixth edition of Unusual World
Coins, a medallic coinage and fantasy coin reference book by Colin
Also in 1985, Singapore issued a large silver medal with the design
of an ancient sailing vessel called a “junk.” The medal also stated
its weight and its purity level as “.999 fineness.”
This was significant for two reasons. First, many big silver medals
at that time were still made to the .925 fine standard or .99 fine.
This medal proudly proclaimed a triple-nines purity. Second, the
Singapore Mint would be one of the first mints in the world to issue a
true 5-ounce silver coin (for Samoa), just one year later.