When you consider purchasing physical silver bars, you will need to make a few key decisions: what size bar will I buy, where will I buy it, and what brand bar will I buy. This article addresses the latter, and explains the various brands in the physical silver market and the differences between them.
Why Does Brand Matter?
Although we like to take the approach of “silver is silver”, premiums over spot price can vary greatly depending on who produced the silver bar in question.
The primary reasons that premiums differ by producer are:
- Relative Scarcity – Some providers only make a very limited amount of bars, if they even produce them at present at all. A good example is Engelhard, who hasn’t produced any new silver bars in over 20 years.
- Reputation – Certain brands have been in business for a long time, and have earned the respect of investors and collectors alike. These bars will always have an additional premium attached due to the hiked demand.
- Special Bars – Minters like NTR Metals often put out special commemorative bars like their Dragon bar for the 2012 Year of the Dragon. These timely bars trade at a premium compared to typical bullion as collectors are willing to pay a bit extra.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of active silver bar manufacturers, but the majority of bars on the market come from one of a handful of mints. Below we have listed each major silver bar manufacturer, along with a brief summary of their company and a link to a full profile of the brand.
Johnson Matthey is a top name in silver bullion, and has been involved in the precious metals industry for nearly 200 years. The company primarily produces larger bars, but they recently put out a run of 1 oz logo bars which have been welcomed favorably by the physical market. Read our full Johnson Matthey profile to learn more.
Engelhard is another highly respected name in the precious metals world, despite the fact that they haven’t actively produced bullion since the mid 1980s. There are numerous styles and forms of Engelhard bars out there, and most typically trade well above the spot price of silver. Learn more by reading our Engelhard profile.
Royal Canadian Mint (RCM)
The Royal Canadian Mint is the official mint of Canada, and produces silver bullion bars to compliment their Silver and Gold Maple Leaf coins. RCM most commonly produces pressed 100 oz silver bars, which are quite popular in the market. Full RCM profile here.
NTR Metals, headquartered in Texas and with locations across the United States, is currently one of the major players in the domestic bullion industry. NTR produces several sizes of silver bars, including 10 oz, 1 kg, and 100 oz weights, and also offers yearly commemoratives like 2012′s Year of the Dragon bar. Learn more about NTR Metals.
Sunshine Minting is another domestic producer of gold and silver bars and rounds. Located in Idaho, Sunshine specializes in bulk and custom minting, and their 1 oz and 10 oz silver bars are particularly popular in the bullion market. Learn more about Sunshine Minting.
SilverTowne is one of the few silver bar producers who actually lets customers buy directly from them. SilverTowne puts out a wide variety of art bars, as well as their standard bullion/logo bars in 1 oz, 5 oz, 10 oz, and 100 oz weights. We have more info about SilverTowne here.
Many retailers will sell what they call “generic” or “secondhand” silver bars. These are bars which have no value other than the silver contained in the piece, and thus offer the investor an opportunity to purchase silver at an extremely low rate. Learn more about generic silver bars here.
Make sure to check back often as we are always adding more information and profiles of silver bar producers and mints.