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Why Pay High Price?
August 26, 2008

Quick. If you are about to buy some silver as an investment, would you like to pay a premium of 19 percent over metallic value, 7.8 percent over or 2.3 percent over?

Trick question? Possibly.

On the whole, investors would normally seek to buy the metal in the form that gives them the biggest bang for their buck, meaning the lowest possible markup from bullion value.

However, if you judge the activity in the marketplace you will scratch your head. Buyers are chasing the 2008 silver American Eagle coins and other current bullion coins like the Austrian Philharmonic and the Canadian Maple Leaf instead.


I checked the Kitco Web site this morning, which appears at

I see that silver American Eagles, which are temporarily out of stock are priced at $15.73 each, with silver at $13.23 for a nearly 19 percent premium.

Maple Leaf and Philharmonic coins, which are in stock, are priced just a little cheaper at $15.48.

If you want to buy 100-ounce silver bars, (which were all the rage in the late 1970s and early 1980s), the premium over silver value is 7.8 percent at $1,426. They are in stock.

A 1,000-ounce bar is just 2.3 percent above silver value at $13,530. It is also in stock.

Why choose to pay such a high premium for coins when other forms are more reasonably priced? Is their some hoped for numismatic premium?

Markets can be irrational. This may be one of those times. Bullion coin premiums have been much lower than those asked for currently. They will be again. Why pay them?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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