Coin collectors and bullion investors like to discuss the gold/silver ratio.
Currently it takes approximately 71 ounces of silver to buy one ounce of gold.
The U.S. coining ratio that prevailed during most of the bimetallic years of the 19th century was 16 ounces of silver to one ounce of gold.
This comparison leads many to conclude that silver is underpriced.
Whether it is or isn’t matters less than how individuals behave equipped with this knowledge.
If they have a sum of money to put into precious metals, how do they divvy it up?
You can figure this out by comparing the number of ounces of gold American Eagles sold so far in 2016 to how many silver American Eagles have been sold.
At today’s prices of $1,268 gold and $17.77 silver, it is easy to figure out the sums.
In nice approximate round numbers, for every $1 they spend on gold Eagles, they spend 60 cents on silver Eagles.
At today’s prices, so far this year, buyers have taken $988,406,000 in gold Eagles and $604,188,800 in silver.
Adding in the buyer’s premium will raise the silver number some because silver coin premiums are higher.
But you get the idea. What does it mean?
These numbers support the contention that average people love silver. We know there are many collectors and investors who buy nothing but silver.
They prefer to acquire their investments in smaller dollar increments than the high price of gold would allow.
There is also the sense of satisfaction derived from the bulk represented by the silver investment.
Put a tiny tenth-ounce gold Eagle next to seven one-ounce silver Eagles and you have a rough equivalence of value in terms of paper dollar prices.
Which quantity of precious metal will a potential buyer find more attractive?
I think you will come to the same conclusion I do.
That is why the Mint has sold 34,000,500 silver Eagles so far this year and just 779,500 ounces of gold. And this is a good year for gold in terms of quantity sold.
I use ounces here because of the four sizes of gold Eagles that are available.
Sure, investors of large sums might choose gold, but high rollers aside, if you like silver better than gold, you are far from alone.
These numbers demonstrate it.
They also demonstrate the fact that silver buyers need much more storage space.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017. He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."
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