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What Are Silver Bullion Bars?

Next to the precious metal gold, silver is the second most commonly employed precious metal for the purposes of investment. Silver is one of the oldest forms of universal currency, with coins being made from the material dating back to before the time of Alexander the Great and well into the modern age[1]. Because silver is more affordable than gold but is equally resistant to the sudden ups and downs of common currency, it is a commonly opted investment hedge against financial stresses. Due to its ready salability, silver also makes for great insurance against potential bankruptcy due to wrong stock investments. Small-time businesspeople and even regular individuals also opt to invest in silver as a means to get by when times get really hard. Silver walks the line between being slightly abundant and somewhat scare, and due to the often fluctuating state of silver’s availability, its prices may vary year after year, although its value as a precious salable and much sought-after precious metal remains a constant.


One of the most common ways to invest in silver is in procuring silver coins (referred to as bullion if officially issued by a national mint, and as a round if created by independent mints) which are both collectible items as well as investment commodities[2]. Another means to invest in silver is in the form of silver bullion bars, which, like gold bars, are often heavier and costlier than silver coins. It is very well known in the investment world that silver bullion coins and rounds are often usually melted into bars for easier storage, and that silver bars are also often melted and shaped into coins for easier transportation. Akin to their yellow cousin, silver gold bars often follow a standard of size, shape, weight, and purity especially if issued by an official (that is to say a national) mint. Silver kilobars, tinier squares of silver weighing 1000 grams by weight of pure refined silver, are also available.

Standardized silver bars are usually referred to as Good Delivery bars and follow a rigid protocol that dictates its weight, size, and even its shape. A standard Good Delivery silver bar must be between 250 – 350 mm in length at the top and 110 – 150 mm wide, with a height of 60 – 100 mm. In order to pass for bullion purity, it must contain a minimum of 999.0 per thousand parts of refined silver to guarantee its base purity, but most silver Good Delivery bars may contain even finer amounts. In order to be easily assayed, bars usually have a serial number, a hallmark, its weight and the year of manufacture stamped in the obverse and reverse faces of the silver bar[3]. Then again, just like gold bars, there also exist quite a number of Non-Good Delivery (NGD) silver bars – that is, bars that do not follow through with the standard form prescribed by the London Bullion Market. A great number of Non-Good Delivery bars are usually made by private mints, and may contain (just like the normal bars) 999.0 or higher purities of silver. Such bars may have hallmarks, weight, and dates of manufacture, but they are sometimes made into other shapes and sizes other than the traditional brick shaped bullion bar.

Antique silver may be considered bullion wealth, provided that it possessed a fine enough type of silver in large quantities over that of its base metal. Because this does not comply with bullion standards of this age however, they can also be considered Non-Good Delivery, although by today’s reckoning, they have to be smelted, refined, and remade into a pure silver object that meets the standards of fineness before it can be considered strictly bullion. Bullion bars that do not follow through with the standards can be molded or shaped into an assortment of shapes and sizes, although they are usually made into portable punched squares or rounds, or small ingots that fit the palm of the hand for easier transport and storage. More eccentric bullion investors may even choose to mold their silver into fanciful shapes (think boats, animals, objects d’art) to make for more pleasing bullion ‘displays’[4][5]. However the shape or size of silver bullion, it will nevertheless be sold and melted eventually, only to be bought, melted and shaped again only for as long as silver is still considered a precious commodity.

References:

http://whygoldandsilver.com/research/history/history-of-silver-as-currency
http://www.goldeneaglecoin.com/Buy_Silver/Silver_Rounds
http://www.lbma.org.uk/assets/GD_Rules_81.pdf
http://www.charm.ru/library/syceelist.htm


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