the most versatile and trusted forms for commerce/barter (and easiest to sell back to a dealer for paper currency if needed) are U.S. Silver Eagles, Canadian Maple Leafs, Morgan dollars, and pre-1965 dimes, quarters, and half-dollars (aka 'junk' silver).
You can buy junk silver coins individually, in rolls of like denomination, or mixed bags. A mixture of denominations is best. Like the poster below said would you rather pay $10.84 for a loaf of bread (today's value of a half-dollar), or $2.10 (a dime)? Some coins may be worth more due to their numismatic 'collector' value, but all will at least have their 'melt' value.
The price of precious metals fluctuates throughout the day, every day. The price is referred to as 'spot.' Check the spot price on www.kitco.com, click on 'all metal quotes' at the top. Then try to find a local shop that charges the least amount over spot, and buy it there. Large quantities - online is best, and Tulving.com is great.
Daily silver coin melt values: http://www.coinflation.com/silver_coin_values.html
You'll find better deals on generic rounds and bars, but you may run into hassles when you try to 'spend' them, or if you ever need to sell some back to a dealer for paper currency. Folks will be wary of accepting them without testing, etc.
When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign: that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. ~J. Swift
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