Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sterling Silver and Silver Plate – What’s the Difference?

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Sterling silver and silver plate (also spelled silverplate) are totally different.  And to be quite honest, it’s hard for most people to tell the difference. This often leads to scamming.

So let’s keep it simple.  Sterling silver is where the real value is.  If you own a lot of sterling silver, that’s a good thing financially speaking. Silverplate isn’t bad – it’s just a lot less valuable. Let’s dive a little deeper into the real meaning of each.

Sterling Silver

Simply put, sterling silver is pretty close to the ‘real deal’.  Sterling silver is 92.5% (.925) silver.  So what makes up the rest of the sterling silver?  Other metals; usually copper or nickel.  A real silver bar, a.k.a. fine silver, is .999 silver.

Sterling silver is used to make a variety of products, such as nice jewelry, plates, or even coins.  So why not use fine silver?  Why does it have to be mixed?  Fine silver is quite soft and can be easily damaged.  When combined with other metals, fine silver becomes much more durable.

When it comes to sterling silver, weight is important. Often times it’s a strong selling/buying point for collectors.  Any way you look at it, sterling silver is worth good money.  It’s an investment, and will hold its value over time.

Silver Plate

Silverplate is worth a lot less than sterling silver. Why? It contains much less pure silver.  When you buy a product made of silverplate, you’re buying something that’s made mostly of fairly cheap metal – like copper, steel, or something similar.  The pure silver is then fused on top of the metal, creating a very thin layer.
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Fun fact: If you’re like most people, you probably refer to your eating utensils as “silverware”. In the old days, silverware was commonly made out of sterling silver. Nowadays, it rarely is. In fact, it’s rarely even made of silverplate. Most “silverware” is actually made of only metal, such as stainless steel.  It’s commonly advertised as flatware. If you want a set of sterling silverware, it’s definitely out there.  You’ll just have to spend at least $1,000.

So how do you spot the difference between sterling silver and silverplate?  The simplest way to do so is look for a number 925 or the word sterling written somewhere. One of these will symbolize what should be an authentic sterling silver product.  If the product has a manufacturer’s name on it, it’s most likely silverplate.

You can also run a second test with a magnet.  If a magnet is attracted to the product, it’s not sterling silver.  The best way to tell, however, is taking the item you have in question to a specialist.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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The First Curved Coin in U.S. History

2014-National-Baseball-Hall-of-Fame-Commemorative-CoinThis year marks the 75th anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As a result, the United States Mint has decided to issue gold and silver coins to commemorate the special event. The National Baseball Hall of Fame coins are set to go on sale this Thursday, March 27, at noon.

The Design

This rare coin features a glove on the obverse side and a baseball on the reverse, symbolizing the most basic elements of our nation’s oldest and most legendary sport. Designed by Cassie McFarland of California, who beat out 177 other submissions, the coin manages to fit both the “E Pluribus Unum” and “In God We Trust” mottos, which are found printed on the glove and ball.

The Curve

This coin will be the first curved coin ever produced by the U.S. Mint. It will be shaped in such a way that the obverse is concave and the reverse is convex. The U.S. mint did produce a curved coin in 1973 to honor Roberto Walker Clemente Congressional Gold Medal the late Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder. However, the National Baseball Hall of Fame coin is modeled after the convex 2009 International Year of Astronomy coins, issued by the Monnaie de Paris, French Mint.

The Denominations

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According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act, the U.S. Treasury is required to issue up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins and 750,000 half-dollar clad coins. Prices for these coins will include surcharges of $35 for each gold coin, $10 for each silver coin and $5 for each half-dollar. This surcharge will go directly to the National Baseball Hall of Fame to help fund its operations.

About the National Baseball Hall of Fame

The National Baseball Hall of Fame is an independent, non-profit educational institution dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of baseball and its impact on American culture. The Museum contains more than 40,000 three-dimensional artifacts representing all facets of the game, from its inception in the mid-19th century to the present. Today, the Museum collects and preserves baseball collections for a global audience as well as honors those who have made contributions to our nation’s pastime.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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History of St. Patrick’s Day

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For more than 1,000 years, people have been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. But does anyone really know why? There is certainly more to this holiday than green beer and corned beef and cabbage. For instance, Saint Patrick was the Patron Saint of Ireland, known for bringing Christianity to the country. We celebrate on March 17th because it is believed to be the day that Saint Patrick died. As for the other legends, you’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Who is Saint Patrick?

Believe it or not, Saint Patrick was born in Britain during the fourth century. At the age of 16, he was taken from his home by Irish raiders. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. Alone and afraid, Patrick turned to his religion for solace. Legend has it that God spoke to Patrick in a dream, telling him to flea Ireland. He walked 200 miles to the Irish coast and finally returned to Britain. It was believed that Patrick dreamed of converting the Irish people to Christianity. After becoming a priest, Patrick returned to Ireland to practice his religion.

The color green

The color green is symbolic of the Shamrock and the landscape of Ireland. While Saint Patrick wore blue, ancient folklores said he used the Shamrock to explain the Christian Holy Trinity to Irish patrons. It was also said that the people of Ireland wore Shamrocks on their coats and placed them in a glass of whiskey before drinking at the end of a long day.

St. Patrick’s Day food

Corned beef and cabbage is actually an Irish American tradition. During the 19th century, poor immigrants were unable to afford their favorite cuts of pork. They went in search of a cheap alternative and found corned beef in the delis and lunch carts of their Jewish neighbors. They slow cooked it in cabbage and made the delicious St. Paddy’s Day meal we know and love today.

Leprechauns and gold

The belief of leprechauns was first mentioned during the 8th century. The term “leprechaun” actually comes from the Irish word meaning “small-bodied fellow.” According to history, Celtic folktales told stories of tiny men and women with magical powers who were said to make shoes and store their coins in a hidden pot of gold. Hence, Leprechauns had no correlation with Saint Patrick.

St. Patrick’s Day is a relatively minor holiday in Ireland – However, it’s a day of celebration and tradition here in the United States! How will you be celebrating today?

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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The Grandfather of the Gold Bullion Coin Market

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The Krugerrand gold coin is one of the most well-known and traded gold coins in the world. It has a colorful history too. First minted in South Africa in 1967, the Krugerrand was exactly one troy ounce of gold. It was also the first gold coin to be traded at market value.

The First Krugerrand

The name itself is a combination of “Kruger” named after Paul Kruger, a decorated war hero and the man depicted on the obverse side of the coin, and the South African unit of currency, “rand.” The coin was made in order to help stimulate the market for South African gold, and is considered to be one of the most successful gold coins ever minted. Additionally, Krugerrand gold coins are credited as the forerunner and creator of the gold bullion coin market.

The 20th Century U.S. Gold Rush

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In 1974, a new gold rush had started in the United States as the American public regained the ability to buy, own and publicly trade gold bullion. To help meet the sudden demand, South Africa began minting and importing the Krugerrand gold coin to sell to private buyers within the U.S. The coin became increasingly popular with private traders in the U.S. and around the world. This was due to the convenience of being able to use a mass-produced gold coin valued at one troy ounce of gold instead of having to use odd weighted gold bullion bars. By 1980, the Krugerrand gold coin accounted for almost 90 percent of the global gold coin market.

The Apartheid

In 1985, because of Apartheid, U.S. Congress passed a law banning any further importation of Krugerrand gold coins. By this point, it was estimated that approximately 22 million gold coins had already been imported. During the ban, the U.S. began minting their own gold bullion coins, known as Gold Eagles, which had captured the U.S. gold bullion coin market. However, in 1994, Congress lifted the ban and Krugerrand gold coins were once again offered for sale in the U.S.

The Gold Krugerrand Today

krugerrandToday, the Krugerrand is one of the most sought after coins of all the modern gold bullion coins, with thousands being traded daily. Modern Krugerrand gold coins are now offered in four different sizes; their original one troy ounce size, as well as, .5 ounce, .25 ounce and .1 ounce sizes, with the original one ounce size continuing to be the most popular size.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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How to Collect Silver Bars and Bullion

Silver-Ounce

 

I want to talk about how you can collect silver. Like any precious metal, silver can be used for investment purposes. For thousands of years, silver has been highly valued and even used as money. Today, it’s no longer accepted as legal tender in many counties. However, the demand for silver is still very high.

Silver is on the rise

With all the unstable federal governments and economies, silver is certainly on the rise. As the dollar becomes less and less stable, silver becomes more valuable to investors. Today, silver is a better buy than gold. It’s also undervalued relative to gold. Those who feel gold is too expensive are looking to purchase silver. All of these reasons combined are pushing the price of silver higher. For those of you looking for stability and security, collecting silver is definitely the way to go.

One Troy Ounce

Silver is sold by the troy ounce. One troy ounce weighs 31.1 grams, which is more than the 28.35 grams you would call an ounce of milk. Therefore, one troy ounce is approximately 10 percent more than a regular ounce. When buying silver, it’s very important to know about the troy ounce, as dealers will refer to silver prices by troy ounce.

Numismatic vs. Bullion

When purchasing silver, you have the option to choose between numismatic or bullion. Generally speaking, numismatic coins are for experienced collectors. Their value is determined by things such as the date they was issued, rarity, condition, even the mint where they were produced. Bullion, on the other hand, is valued by its silver content. There are two main types of bullion: coins and bars.

Choosing Between Coins and Bars

Not all silver bullion is created equally. You should know the differences between silver coins and bars in order to make educated purchases. Many people prefer to buy coins because they offer greater flexibility when it comes time to sell. For instance, if you buy a 100-ounce silver bar you will have to sell the entire 100-ounces at one time. But, if you buy 100-ounces of silver coins or rounds, you could sell any number of rounds at anytime.

Silver Bars Are Cost Effective

While coins provide you with greater flexibility, silver bars are generally more cost effective. Because they are not minted, they are often much cheaper than coins. They come in sizes such as one, ten and 100-ounce bars. They also sell at spot, which means they do not include premiums that coins such as Silver Eagles can have. If you are a beginner or if you are just trying to protect your wealth and buying power of your money, then I suggest you invest in silver bars.

Gary Dyner is the owner of Great American Coin Company. Connect with him on

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