The allure of silver has captivated humanity for centuries. From ancient civilizations using it as a form of trade to modern investors seeking a stable store of value, silver’s sheen has always held a special place in our history. But beyond its monetary and investment potential, silver has played an equally significant role in the world of numismatics. Silver coins, in particular, offer a fascinating window into the cultures, histories, and values of nations worldwide. What’s a good list of silver coins by country?
Every country, from the sprawling empires of old to the modern states of today, has left its mark on silver coinage. These coins aren’t just pieces of metal; they’re fragments of stories. Each coin tells tales of monarchs and leaders, depicts significant events, or showcases emblematic national symbols. A single piece can take you on a journey through time, introducing you to eras long gone and traditions deeply embedded in a nation’s psyche.
The United States, for instance, has the illustrious Morgan and Peace dollars, bearing symbols of liberty and national identity. Over in Europe, the British have their renowned Sterling silver coins, evoking memories of a global empire. The East is no stranger to the charm of silver either, with China’s Panda coins and India’s historical Rupees showcasing the rich tapestry of Asian culture.
The first of our list of silver coins by country!
Morgan Dollar (1878-1921): The Morgan Dollar is one of the most iconic U.S. silver coins. Designed by George T. Morgan, its obverse features a profile portrait of Lady Liberty, while the reverse showcases an eagle with wings outstretched. The coin contains 90% silver and was minted in response to the vast amounts of silver discovered in the late 19th century. It’s a favorite among collectors and investors alike.
Peace Dollar (1921-1935): The Peace Dollar was introduced as a symbol of peace following World War I. Designed by Anthony de Francisci, the coin’s obverse bears an image of Lady Liberty, and its reverse features a perched bald eagle. Minted with 90% silver, the Peace Dollar was the last circulating silver dollar produced by the United States.
Silver Eagle (1986-present; bullion coin): The American Silver Eagle, introduced in 1986, is the official silver bullion coin of the United States. Boasting an impressive content of one troy ounce of .999 fine silver, its design is based on Adolph A. Weinman’s “Walking Liberty” half dollar from 1916. The reverse features a heraldic eagle designed by John Mercanti. Beyond its investment appeal, it is also popular among collectors.
90% Silver coins (dimes, quarters, half-dollars) produced prior to 1965: Before 1965, most U.S. dimes, quarters, and half-dollars were composed of 90% silver. This composition was changed due to the rising cost of silver, which made the metal value of the coins exceed their face value. These coins, often referred to as “junk silver” by investors, are still sought after for their silver content and are a reminder of a time when everyday pocket change contained precious metal.
The second country of our list of silver coins by country…
Silver Maple Leaf (1988-present; bullion coin): Launched in 1988, the Silver Maple Leaf is Canada’s official silver bullion coin and is renowned for its .9999 fine silver purity. The coin features the iconic maple leaf on its reverse, a symbol deeply rooted in Canadian heritage, while the obverse showcases a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. As one of the world’s premier silver bullion coins, it is highly sought after by investors and collectors globally for its quality and intricate design details.
Various denominations in sterling silver or 80% silver, especially prior to 1968: Before Canada transitioned to nickel and other metals for their general coinage in 1968, many of its coins were minted in silver. This includes denominations like the dollar, half-dollar, quarter, and dime. Initially, these coins were made of sterling silver (92.5% silver content), but the composition shifted to 80% silver in the mid-20th century. Collectors often cherish these older coins not only for their silver content but also for their reflection of Canada’s rich numismatic history.
Britannia (1987-present; bullion coin): Introduced in 1987, the Silver Britannia is the United Kingdom’s official silver bullion coin. Minted with a purity of .999 fine silver, its design showcases Britannia, the female embodiment of Britain, standing strong against a gusty wind, symbolizing strength and endurance. The obverse of the coin features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Over the years, the design has undergone slight changes, making various editions particularly attractive to collectors. Renowned for its beauty and craftsmanship, the Britannia is a popular choice among both investors and numismatists worldwide.
Crowns, Half-Crowns, Florins, Shillings, and others (pre-1920 and 1920-1946): Historically, several UK coin denominations were minted using silver. Before 1920, these coins, including the Crown, Half-Crown, Florin, and Shilling, were composed of sterling silver, boasting a silver content of 92.5%. However, due to economic pressures, including those brought about by World War I, the silver content of these coins was reduced to 50% from 1920 to 1946. These coins are not only valued for their silver content but also for their intricate designs and their place in the rich tapestry of British history.
Silver Kangaroo (2015-present; bullion coin): Introduced in 2015, the Silver Kangaroo is Australia’s first .9999 fine silver bullion coin. Emblazoned with the image of a bounding kangaroo on its reverse, it captures the essence of the nation’s rich wildlife. The obverse showcases a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Besides its investment appeal, the Silver Kangaroo is esteemed for its design detail and is a significant addition to Australia’s legacy of quality bullion coinage.
Lunar Series coins (bullion/collectible): The Australian Lunar Series of silver coins celebrates the Chinese zodiac with designs inspired by the lunar calendar’s 12-year cycle. Each coin in the series features one of the zodiac animals, making them particularly attractive to collectors. With high silver purity and a unique theme for each year, they have gained popularity not just as bullion investments but also as collectible items with intricate designs.
Various pre-decimal coins like the Florin: Prior to Australia’s transition to decimal currency in 1966, a range of coins, such as the Florin, Shilling, and Sixpence, were minted using silver. The Florin, equivalent to two shillings or 24 pence, is one of the most iconic of these. These pre-decimal coins, minted primarily in either 92.5% sterling silver or 50% silver, are treasured by numismatists and history enthusiasts alike. Their designs often capture pivotal moments and symbols of Australia’s past, making them invaluable pieces of the nation’s rich numismatic history.
Libertad (1982-present; bullion coin): The Mexican Silver Libertad, first minted in 1982, is one of the world’s major silver bullion coins. Its design is steeped in Mexican history and culture. The obverse of the coin showcases the iconic Angel of Independence, a symbol of freedom and victory, with the volcanic peaks of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl in the background. On the reverse, it carries various versions of the Mexican national seal surrounded by the country’s historical coats of arms. Esteemed for its pure silver content and its powerful symbolism, the Libertad stands out as a testament to Mexico’s rich heritage.
1 Peso and other denominations with varying silver content: Historically, Mexico has produced numerous coin denominations with a composition of silver, the 1 Peso being one of the most recognized. The silver content of these coins varied over time due to economic and geopolitical factors. Earlier versions of the 1 Peso contained a higher percentage of silver, but this percentage decreased throughout the 20th century. These coins are not only valued for their precious metal content but also cherished for their designs, which often incorporate imagery reflecting Mexico’s rich culture and history. Collectors and history enthusiasts alike often seek out these pieces for both their material value and numismatic significance.
The last country of our list of silver coins by country…
Silver Panda (1983-present; bullion coin): Introduced in 1983, the Silver Panda is China’s flagship silver bullion coin and is cherished worldwide for its unique design and purity. One of the coin’s distinctive features is that its design changes annually, making each year’s edition a unique collectible. The reverse side always displays a depiction of the giant panda, an emblematic symbol of China, in various poses and settings. Meanwhile, the obverse showcases the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with the words “People’s Republic of China” inscribed in Chinese. Minted in .999 fine silver, the Silver Panda is not only a favored choice for investors due to its high silver content, but it’s also highly regarded by numismatists for its intricate and evolving designs.