Skip to main content

Cheap U.S. silver proof might be surprise

Bullion investors and collectors don’t like doing math.

That’s why one-ounce bullion coins took over the market.

But if they did in fact do math, they might be surprised at what they discover.

I was as I did some doodling this morning after a conversation on the telephone about commemorative coins.

The 2017 Boys Town silver proof dollar currently is priced at a pre-issue discount of $47.95 each.

It has the traditional silver dollar silver weight of .7734 ounce.

There is a $10 per coin surcharge donation that will go to Boys Town, but if there weren’t, the price could be $37.95 for the handsome proof coin.

That is still an expensive price for just over three-quarters of an ounce of silver.

But at the same time the Mint is charging this figure for the Boys Town coin, it has a completely different price structure for the America the Beautiful silver proof quarter set.

It asks $31.95 for the 2017 five-coin silver proof set.

That means that an individual coin is actually just $6.39.

That seems reasonable to me.

Put another way, four such coins become very nearly three-quarters of an ounce of silver at .724 ounce.

Four coins would be valued at $6.39 times four, or $25.56.

What this means is that the Mint is selling its proof commemorative ATB quarters for half the price of the proof commemorative silver dollar as measured strictly from silver value.

If collectors are looking for new and superior Mint products such as a proof coin made of silver, it will pay to take a look at the silver proof ATB set.

If you want to turn this exercise into a troy ounce of silver, you would take the silver weight of the proof quarter, .181 ounce and divide 1 by it. That reveals that it takes 5.52 quarters to equal one troy ounce of silver.

Multiply the $6.39 individual proof quarter price by 5.52 and you arrive at $35.30 for a proof ounce of silver.

Considering that a one-ounce 2017 proof American Eagle that goes on sale tomorrow will be priced around the $53.95 current price of the 2016 version on the Mint’s website and you can see that in pure quantities of proof silver, ATB quarters offer the precious metal at a much lower price.

Unless you are simply buying a one-ounce silver American Eagle as a metal investment, the proof ATB quarters are an attractive way to own silver and be a collector at the same time.

Checking APMEX this morning, you can buy a one-ounce bullion American Eagle for $21.41.

The silver in the proof quarters is just 65 percent more expensive than when it comes in the form of a one-ounce bullion coin. That is cheap for high-quality proofs. It compares to a 152 percent markup for silver when it takes the form of a proof silver American Eagle.

Collectors looking for the best silver value in U.S. a proof coin should be focusing on the silver ATB quarters rather than the proof Eagles or proof commemorative silver dollars.

Will they?

Probably not.

Is it a problem of basic coin appeal?

Or is it a problem with doing the math?

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

• Like this blog? Read more by subscribing to Numismatic News