In 1986, the United States of America started issuing a one ounce silver eagle bullion coin. In 1988, Canada followed suit and introduced a one ounce silver bullion coin, the silver Maple Leaf, with a design already familiar from the gold Maples.
The original idea was to provide silver coins which would contain a guaranteed one ounce of fine, or pure, silver. The Canadian Maple Leaf is produced from silver which is refined to a purity of 99.99%.
There are now many countries which issue silver bullion coins, many are countries where silver is mined, and these mainly issue silver bullion coins every year, and there are other countries which make the occasional silver bullion issue.
This has added to the diversity of different designs available to the collector, and also means that the various mints have begun to compete by offering more choice of design. The Australian Kookaburra series, for example, feature a different design each year, but always based on the kookaburra, a distinctive native bird.
Great Britain started to produce their silver Britannia bullion coin in 1997 following the ten year success with the gold Britannia. Strangely enough, the 1997 version is only available in a proof finish, which rather contradicts its status as a bullion coin, but it is very attractive, and is available in a standard uncirculated bullion version in subsequent years. Britannias are produced appropriately enough in Britannia Silver which is 958 parts per thousand pure silver, but contains a full ounce of silver, with the addition of a small amount of copper. Other silver bullion coins include American Eagles, Chinese Pandas, Somali Monkeys, Mexican 1 Onza Plata Pura.
In 1992 the Perth Mint in Australia introduced two ounce, ten ounce and one kilo silver bullion coins, so that there is now a choice of sizes available. Canada introduced a 10 ounce silver Maple in 1998.
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