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What Are Silver Rounds?
A silver "round" is silver bullion that is shaped like a coin. Think of them as a "round" silver bar. Due to their shape, people who are new to buying silver can often mistake silver rounds for silver coins. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two, is to look for a face value (denomination). Rounds are not government-minted legal tender, and so cannot display a face value.
Buying Silver Rounds
Silver bullion rounds are a very popular way to purchase silver. Most commonly minted from 1 troy ounce of .999 fine silver, they are notably cheaper than silver bullion coins of the same weight. In short, you literally get more silver for your investment dollar when you buy silver rounds instead of buying silver bullion coins. This is because silver rounds are produced by the private sector instead of a government mint. This means that you don't pay the extra seigniorage charge levied by government mints for silver coins.
Seigniorage is extra profit that government mints tack onto a bullion coin's price, over and above what it cost to make the coin. Seigniorage on circulating coins is the difference between the cost of making a coin, and its face value. Seigniorage is the reason silver bullion coins have higher premiums than silver bullion rounds.
The Difference Between Silver Coins and Silver Rounds
Government-made silver bullion coins have their denomination, weight, and purity stated on the coin. This denomination makes them legal tender. Being legal tender gives them the guarantee of the "full faith and credit' of the government. Silver rounds are made by private refineries and mints, and have no face value. They only display their purity and weight.
The Difference Between Silver Bars and Silver Rounds
While silver rounds cost about the same as generic silver bars, they are easier to store. Since .999 fine silver rounds are close in size to American Silver Eagles, they fit in the same size 20-coin mint tubes for easy storage -- a plus for silver rounds versus silver bars. Stacking 1 troy oz silver bars can be awkward, and larger silver bars are, of course, not divisible.
Types of Silver Rounds
Silver rounds offer untold thousands of different designs. Makers of silver rounds can create any design they want, as long as they don't violate trademark or copyright law. Legal tender collectible coins, however, can only bear designs that are approved by their issuing government. Silver bars, if they have any design at all, usually carry a logo or trademarked image of the refiner that made them.
Most modern silver round designs fall into one of several categories: Replicas of classic coin designs, religious and holiday designs, wildlife and nature designs, and military/commemorative designs.
Classic Design Silver Rounds
"Classic" design silver rounds re-use the designs from famous coins of the past. Sometimes only the front (obverse) of the design is used, and other times both sides use the original design.
Buffalo silver round: Based on the design used for the "Buffalo nickel" from 1913 to 1938. These famous images of an American bison and a Native American warrior were originally created by artist James Earle Fraser. The Buffalo design may be the most popular silver round in the world.
Morgan silver round Replica of the most collected silver coin in American history, the Morgan dollar. This image appeared on silver dollar coins from 1878 to 1904, and briefly again in 1921. If the Silver Buffalo is the world's most popular silver round, the Morgan is a close second.
Mercury silver round: Uses the "Winged Liberty Head" design that appeared on the U.S. dime from 1916 to 1945. At the time, this version of Lady Liberty designed by A.A. Weinman was mistaken for the Roman god Mercury.
Walking Liberty silver round: A classic coin design from U.S. half dollars circa 1916 to 1947. This motif appears on modern American Silver Eagle coins. It was also designed by Adolph Weinman. While few would confuse this silver round with a silver half dollar, it is far more likely that someone might think it was an actual American Silver Eagle bullion coin.
Peace Dollar silver round: Based on the last circulating silver dollar in the US. The short-lived design was used from 1921 to 1935 and was created by the artist Anthony de Francisci.
In 2014, the Hobby Protection Act was amended to tighten the laws against passing imitation or replica numismatic items. The law now requires that anything resembling a coin that bears the image or likeness of a current or obsolete coin be prominently marked COPY. This also applies to items that are not the same size as the original. While no one is going to confuse a 1 troy ounce silver round with a Buffalo Nickel, some dishonest people were passing off Morgan rounds as real Morgan dollars, for example.
Religious/Holiday Silver Round Designs
Back in the 1960s and 1970s when silver prices were so low, holiday silver bars and silver rounds were popular. There was a bar or round available for everything from graduation, to births, to Valentines Day. Today, holiday silver rounds mostly celebrate Christmas. Religious silver rounds such as the Ichthus are popular all year, not just at Easter or Christmas.
- Ichthus (Jesus Fish) silver round: The Silver Ichthus (or Ichthys) is a popular religious silver round. This Gainesville Coins exclusive design features the ancient Christian symbol and its meaning on the front (obverse). The Scripture of John 3:16 inscribed on the reverse.
- Guardian Angel silver coin: The Guardian Angel is actually a legal tender coin of the island nation of Niue. It is catalogued with the silver rounds so it is easily found with religious rounds.
- Lamb of God silver rounds: The Lamb of God is another Gainesville Coins exclusive. This silver round is loaded with traditional Christian symbolism, and is especially popular around Easter.
- Nativity silver rounds: Silver rounds depicting the Nativity are a Christmas favorite. Another Gainesville Coin exclusive, the "Journey to Bethlehem" Nativity silver round combines an intimate Nativity scene with the image of Joseph and Mary on the way to Bethlehem.
- Christmas silver rounds: Christmas silver rounds come in many designs, like snowy outdoor scenes and Christmas trees, but Santa Claus silver rounds remain a favorite. Most of these holiday rounds are dated, adding to their appeal as holiday mementos.
Modern Commemorative Silver Rounds
Modern commemorative silver rounds are struck in .999 fine silver, rather than the .925 fine sterling silver that was used for classic silver medallions. Consumers today have come to value the purity of the silver over the high relief and artistic designs that were possible with sterling.
Military silver rounds: Even before the recent jump in public interest in "challenge coins," military themes have been popular subjects for silver rounds. This includes not only military hardware such as ships, planes, and tanks, but also the battles where they fought. Gainesville Coins' PATRIOT series of commemorative silver rounds are a perfect example. They commemorate the American Revolution, World War I, and World War II by featuring iconic military vehicles in famous military settings..
Historical silver rounds: Historical silver rounds can also focus on non-military events. A popular subject in 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. Historical and political subjects were far more popular in the era of the sterling art medallions than today.
Sterling Silver Art Medals (Rounds)
The 1970s were the heyday of the sterling silver commemorative "art medallion." Now known as "art rounds," they were released in giant thematic sets by producers such as the Franklin Mint. Popular subjects included historical events and U.S. Presidents. These sterling rounds were nearly always made in extremely high relief and an antiqued finish.
These classic silver medallions were sold for their artistic value instead of their bullion value. They were made of sterling silver instead of .999 fine silver to protect their high relief from damage or wear. This contrasts with modern silver commemorative rounds, where the focus is on the bullion value.
Private Mint Silver Rounds Designs
All silver rounds are made by private mints. (Government-produced silver rounds are called medals.) Most of these mints also produce self-branded rounds. These rounds serve as a promotional tool as well as encouraging brand loyalty. Private mints that sell branded silver rounds include:
- Trident silver rounds: The Trident series of silver bars and coins introduced premium designs at generic prices. The original design features Poseidon rising from a stormy sea, wielding his famous trident.
- Mason Mint silver rounds: Mason Mint produces original designs, such as the PATRIOT silver round series, and the Apollo 11 commemorative silver round. Before this, they produced their own branded silver round that was based on the founder's Scandinavian heritage.
- Engelhard "Prospector" silver round: The Prospector silver round by world-leading refiner Engelhard holds a special place in silver round history. It was one of the first original modern silver round designs, and remains popular among collectors today.
Buy Silver Rounds Online
Buying silver rounds gives you more silver for your dollar than buying silver coins. Buying your silver rounds from Gainesville Coins makes even more sense. Whether you're buying 1 ounce or 10,000 ounces, Gainesville Coins makes purchasing silver rounds simple. There is no minimum order limit at Gainesville Coins, and bulk orders are a breeze. We also offer silver bullion bars in many sizes, from 1 ounce to 100 ounces, as well as the most popular legal tender silver coins.