As you may or may not be aware, silver used for investing and collecting purposes originates from all over the world. When people think of silver, however, they typically tend to think of places like Mexico, Peru, and the rest of Central and South America. These parts of the world have a rich history when it comes to the mining and production of silver. With that being said, most would be surprised to find out that there is a strong silver-producing presence in the United Kingdom, as well.
For hundreds of years now, the UK has been producing some of the finest silver that part of the world has ever seen. Whether it be silver bars or the many silver coins produced by the Royal Mint, there is no denying the UK’s presence in the silver industry.
When people think of silver from the United Kingdom, the first entity that comes to mind is that of Johnson Matthey. The world-famous company traces its roots back to the early stages of the 19th century, when a man by the name of Percival Norton Johnson decided to start a gold assaying business. Though Mr. Johnson started his business in 1802, it wasn’t until shortly after 1850 when George Matthey joined forces with Percival Johnson. It was at this point that the name of the gold assaying company was changed to Johnson & Matthey.
Though already at the helm of a successful business, things continued to get better for Johnson and Matthey as they were shortly thereafter named as the official Assayer and Refiner to the Royal Bank of England. It was at this point that the company began working with silver in addition to gold. From then on, Johnson Matthey grew to be one of the UK’s largest companies, with footprints in all sorts of industries. When it comes to precious metals, however, Johnson Matthey is most well-known for their production of silver bars.
JM bars are so popular among investors because they are able to be found in sizes large and small. No matter if you are a new investor simply looking to dip your toes in the investing world, or an experienced investor looking to add to an existing portfolio, Johnson Matthey has what you are looking for.
Johnson Matthey is known for producing a number of different sized silver bars, but not so many people are aware of the different styles of bars produced by the company. When it comes down to it, the two types of bars you will find produced by Johnson Matthey are poured and pressed bars. The difference between a poured bar and a pressed bar has to do with the way in which the product was produced.
Poured bars are made via a very old process where molten silver is poured into a mold and is left to cool and harden. Because of the way in which the silver is physically poured into the mold, each bar that rolls off the production line is a bit different than the one before it. For this reason, you will often hear poured bars as being described as looking rawer and imperfect.
With regard to pressed bars, this is a process where a large bit of silver is cut and partitioned out into perfectly-sized bars. Because of the way in which these bars are made, they have more of a uniform look and feel. It goes without saying that pressing is quickly becoming the standard when it comes to the production of silver bars, but there are still plenty of investors who love the rustic feel of a poured bar. If you are talking about JM silver bars, you will find more often than not that poured silver bars make up the larger sizes produced while pressed bars can be found in smaller sizes.
Johnson Matthey may be the first name people think of when it comes to UK silver, but the fact of the matter is that the Royal Mint of England has been producing silver coins for much longer than JM has been around. In fact, the Royal Mint has a history that extends well over 1,100 years, making it one of the oldest mints in the world.
As far as silver products produced nowadays are concerned, the most famous is the Silver Britannia — a one ounce coin that has been produced since the mid-1990s. The Britannia is simple in its design and features the image of the female personification of the UK as determined by both Ancient Greeks and Romans. The Britannia on the reverse side of the coin is standing, trident in hand, over the seas that surround the UK isles. Held at her side is a shield donning the UK Union Jack design. The coin’s design is quite simple, but has been hailed as being beautiful in its simplicity.
Something unique about this particular silver coin is the fact that, from 1997 to 2012, the coin’s silver content was lower than the .999 that has become an industry standard. During this roughly 15-year period, the coin was produced with a purity of .958. Nowadays, however, the coin’s purity has been upped to .999 to match the level of purity of just about every other silver coin on the market today.
Despite the Royal Mint’s storied history and massive scale of production, there are very few other silver coins produced by the mint. When it comes down to it, the Royal Mint is responsible for minting the coinage of more than just the UK, so while it is confusing that only one silver coin has become popular, it makes sense when you consider how much coinage is produced by the mint annually.
When the Silver Britannia was first introduced, the coin was not overly popular, so annual mintages regularly did not exceed 100,000. Now, the coin’s extreme popularity sees annual mintages extend far beyond 100,000; sometimes into the millions.