Generally, there are "bullion/generic bullion" coins and "numismatic" coins. "Bullion coins/generic bullion" is just that. You are getting just that, .999 silver coins. "Numismatic" coins are collectible based on rarity, but not always .999 silver. These are ancient, rare coins that have values beyond just their silver content. There is some nuance to this, so I will explain some examples.
Generic bullion comes in many forms- ingots(tiny 'bars'), coins, and loaves(literally looks like a little loaf of bread with the exact weight stamped on it, mostly an odd number like 11.234 oz.). The idea with generics is, though not "collectible" the premium(price you pay over "spot" which is the market's going rate for that day) is minimal- usually in the 3% range. These are always from private mints so it's imperative that you purchase from a reputable mint. Some noteworthy reputable mints are NWT, APMEX, Westminster mint, Sunshine, Silvertowne, Johnson/Mathey, Perth mint, etc. Some retailers try to make the naive believe that there is some 'collectability' depending on the mint and try to take a higher premium for them, but really there is not.
Also, in the .999 silver realm there are coins minted by National Mints. The U.S. makes Silver Eagles, Canada makes Maple Leafs, Austria makes Philharmonics, Australia makes Kookaburras, China makes Pandas, Mexico makes Liberdads, South Africa makes Kuggerands, etc. For these you will pay a higher premium, anywhere from 8%-30% of the spot price depending on which nation's coin you get. A few reasons for this: they are from 'trust' governments, they CAN have some additional 'collectible' value, and they can actually be used as legal tender (one ounce American Eagle has a face value of $1, Canada's is $5, for example. Because the face value of the Maple Leaf is five times that of the Silver Eagle, and the premiums are about the same, I go mostly with Maple Leafs.) National mints also make limited edition coins. Example: For the last four years Canada has made the "wildlife series" with each year being a different animal. Upon initial purchase I paid the same as I would for just a regular Maple leaf (about $3 over spot). But since then the "Wolf" has become highly sought after and is now twice it's value in silver, whereas the "Moose" has not increased with any collectible value. Silver Eagles, Pandas, etc. all have the potential of increasing in some collectible value over time as well. Because of this I like to 'spread it around' by getting National Mint bullion and plain generic bullion and 'scrap' silver like pre-1964 dimes and quarters(which are not pure silver). I NEVER get bars that are over 5 or 10 oz. It's a lot easier to stack bars in a barter situation than it is to divide huge 100 oz. bars.
Numismatic coins are valued almost 100% based on their rarity and collectibility and have nothing to do with their metal content. As you are a novice I INSIST you stay away from these coins. This is how some dealers (like Goldline) rip people off.
Now, where to get these coins? I almost ALWAYS go to a local dealer (here in Seattle) instead of over the internet. Why? I'll explain. A local dealer may charge you 50 cents more than APMEX(the big boy of online dealers) but APMEX will charge you up to $2 per coin for shipping. Do the math. Also, with local dealers you get your silver that day, with no chance of it being stolen out of your mailbox. Online dealers are kind of like Walmart too. Though they might sell generic rounds cheaper than your dealer, they'll mark up Maple Leafs and Silver Eagles higher than your local dealer. So it depends on what you're buying.
If you're getting 500 or more ounces at once of generic then APMEX(who I don't actually use anymore after finding out they bank with JP Morgan) or Gainsville coins. At that quantity the extra for shipping becomes pennies per coin....
If you're getting 30+ ounces of generic rounds, bars, or ingots I like westminstermint.com. They charge $1 over spot per coin, and because of the quantity the shipping per coin becomes more reasonable- in the 75 cents per coin range.
Less than 30 oz. at a time or you want National mint coins and scrap coins? Go to your nearest reputable coin dealer! At my dealer I typically get generic for $1.50 over spot per coin, $2.75 over spot for American Eagles, and $3 over spot for Maple leafs, and on some generics like a loaf or 'dumb' cheesy silver coins(like with Santa Claus on it or Rotary club emblem for example) they will give it to me for 50 cents over spot per ounce...and no hidden shipping costs!
Only get Chinese Silver Pandas from REPUTABLE DEALERS(there are A LOT of fakes out there)
Oh, and spend $10 on amazon for a pocket sized electric scale that measures troy ounces! It's a must have when buying, or if your selling scrap jewelry for example....makes it a lot harder to get scammed!
And one more thing, youtube is full of charlatans so be careful whose advice you're listening to! Avoid the Max Keiser's and Mike Maloney's!
Oh, personally I'm not buying silver until it's in the $20's again.
Hope this helps! Good luck!
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