Silver American Eagles are great investments for individuals looking to get into the precious metals game. First, they are significantly less in price and value versus a gold american eagle (currently $20-ish vs. $1200-ish). Many individuals simply don’t have enough cash on standby to purchase gold coins, so silver is a way to get into precious metals.
Silver American Eagles are a great way to own silver because they are one of the most commonly recognized coins so they will command a premium. You will typically pay a few bucks premium versus the current spot price of an ounce of silver; right now, silver American Eagle coins are going for around $20 each. The 1996 eagles will be higher due to scarcity. Also, the current year (2010) coins tend to go for a higher premium as well. All other years should be consistently in the spot + a few bucks range.
Overall, I wouldn’t worry too much about buying coins for a few bucks over spot since you’re not buying these coins to gain a few bucks. It’s about insurance and it’s about silver going to astromical levels like $50, $100, $200 per ounce. If it doesn’t happen, no worries. If it does, you’re good to go.
I was recently told by a gold investor that he bought a ton of gold 10 years ago (at $300ish per ounce) and he said he bought it hoping that it wouldn’t go up in price. Why? Well, if gold went up in price that would mean the economy wouldn’t be great and he’d rather the economy go up. But, clearly he saw enough reason to buy the gold. It’s a hedge. It’s insurance.
Precious metals should 100% definitely be a part of your overall financial survival game plan. Government risk and uncertainty around the world will continue to push metals higher.