How to Invest in Silver

As I have said several times on this website- I think silver is a great investment, see Why Invest in Silver? There are many ways to invest in silver and I am going to list and provide some information on some of the ones that I am aware of. Please provide comments on silver investing with other investments or comments on the ones that I have listed.

  • Silver– Owning physical silver under your control is probably the safest way to invest in silver. One challenge with silver is that its bulky. You can physically keep several thousand ounces of silver in a home safe, but it is heavy and bulky. One thousand (troy) ounces of silver weighs about 83 pounds (31 Kg.) So, some people pay for silver storage. I haven’t ever had the need to do this and don’t know much about it, but obviously you would want to carefully investigate storage, know how and how quickly you can get your silver if needed and know the serial numbers of your silver bars.
    • Think about buying silver, storing silver and using silver. If you need to use your silver by cashing it in or bartering to purchase goods what will be a good form to have. You want something that will be widely recognized and accepted and you want forms that will be convenient. In other words you don’t want only have a 100 oz. bar if you are going out to buy a loaf of bread. What you don’t want for your “rainy day” silver is for it to have to be assayed before someone will accept it.
    • Silver coins- Silver Eagles, Maple Leafs, Pandas, etc. are coins minted by governments or possibly a private minter. Typically they are one troy ounce of .999 silver.
      • Advantages-
        • Typically readily available & very recognizable which is good when you sell.
        • The more “collectible” a coin is then usually the higher the premium (over spot) is.
      • Disadvantages-
        • Higher premium than some other forms of silver
      • “Junk silver”- these are 90% silver coins (US) from 1964 and before that don’t have numismatic value. Dimes, Quarters, Half Dollars and maybe some Silver Dollars.
        • Advantages-
          • Currently readily available at the local coin shop or online
          • Very recognizable
          • My local coin store charges about .75 X spot price per $1 face value. So, at $17/oz. spot, 4 silver quarters would cost about $12.75 and $1 of silver coins has .715 ounces of silver. So, the premium usually not as high with junk silver, but the buyers discount when they buy it back.
        • Disadvantages-
          • Not that I can think of except the bulk and extra weight given that they are only 90% silver.
        • Silver Rounds- these are “generic” (usually) one ounce coins or small bars.
          • Advantages-
            • Typically a lower premium than Silver Eagles.
            • Fairly recognizable
          • Disadvantages-
            • Many different coins and images on the coins, may not be as recognizable as Silver Eagles and junk silver.
        • Silver bars- 5, 10, 100, 1000 oz bars- typically .999 pure silver.
          • Advantages-
            • Typically will have a lower premium than coins and typically the larger the bar the lower the premium.
            • Should be fairly recognizable, I usually look for a recognizable refiner name and/or a serial number on the bar.
            • 1000 oz. bars are what fabricators and the big silver investors use. In a physical silver shortage I imagine these will be very desirable and may even command larger premium.
          • Disadvantages-
            • None that I can think of
        • SLV- a silver ETF & PSLV- Sprott silver ETF
          • Advantages-
            • Can be traded thru most any brokerage account including most retirement accounts (you may have to sign additional notifications)
            • Has physical silver backing most shares. There has been some shorting of the stock, but that has been fairly minimal and consistent for the last few years.
            • Currently (2/26/21), there are about 1254Moz. of silver in the silver ETFs according to Butler and other reporting. I think the spike in silver prices is going to come about due to demand for physical silver and the ETFs is where the silver is at. The question will be who is going to sell silver and at what price? You should do some research before investing in an ETF. Some say that PSLV is better than SLV because of a tighter correlation between the shares and physical silver.
          • Disadvantages-
            • You don’t have the silver under your direct control.
            • There is a maintenance fee which I think is .5% for SLV
            • BlackRock, Inc. is the SLV sponsor, JPM is the SLV custodian. I’ve seen many comments and questions about JPM being the custodian and the potential for them to somehow use that position to their trading advantage. I haven’t seen any reported abuses, but something to keep an eye on.
  • Silver futures– this is where there is a lot of action. I do not have any first hand knowledge about trading future contracts. So, if you do then please feel free to comment on the Pros & Cons of silver futures trading. The price of silver seems to be determined by the futures market and that is backwards to what it should be. Physical supply and demand should determine price and the futures market should be a place where legitimate producers and users can hedge price risks. Currently (2/23/21) the 8 top silver shorts are short almost 400Moz. I think there will be some traders who make a fortune in the coming silver market, but it is going to be volatile. If you KNOW silver and you KNOW the silver futures market and you think you can make some money there, then go for it. Because if you KNOW you know that it is going to be a wild ride.
  • Silver Options- Options are a contract to be to buy or sell a futures contract before a certain date. There are Call (long) and Put (short) contracts and a Strike price and an expiration date. I have had some experience with Options, but probably without the fundamental knowledge that I should have had to invest in them. All of the option contracts that I have bought have been Calls and most of them have expired as worthless- what Butler call “kamikaze” options.
    • Advantages-
      • You can “control” a lot of silver for a relatively small price. Each silver option contract controls 5000 oz. An example of an option contract would be- say today you predict that silver will be at $35/oz. by the end of the year. You could buy a January (expiration 12/28/20) Silver Call Option with a Strike price of $35 for about $125. So, if silver didn’t make it to $35/oz by 12/28/20 your contract would be worthless. If it got close to the strike price with some time before the expiration you might be able to sell the contract and even make some money. If silver was to go over $35/oz. then you would be “in the money” and so at $36/oz. you could sell the contract for close to $5000 (+$1/oz.). So, a defined risk with potential large returns.
    • Disadvantages-
      • The time element is the big factor. If the price doesn’t move as fast as you think then your option contract is probably going to expire as worthless. I think some very sophisticated traders trade options much closer to “in the money” and so also pay a higher price for those options.
  • Proshares Ultra Silver (AGQ) – is an ETF that shoots for 2X the return of the Blloomberg Silver Subindex which seems to closely follow (percentage wise) the price of silver. So, if silver goes up 5% AGQ will go up about 10% and vice versa when the price goes down. It makes a volatile commodity even more volatile. But, does give more exposure to silver per dollar which will can pay off in a bull market. I like this investment better than silver option contracts because I don’t have to worry about them expiring.
  • Silver Mining Stock- these can give you better returns (and more volatility) than silver. Just to give what isn’t necessarily an accurate example- say the average production cost for a miner is $17/oz. and silver is selling for $20/oz. Then the minor has a profit of $3/oz. Now the price of silver goes up to $23/oz. and the miner has increased profit to $6/oz. or by 100%. Obviously, these are theoretical numbers, but it shows how increases to the price should make big increases to the miners profits. The silver and gold miners stock have not lived up to that potential during the last few months and actually that might be an opportunity to get them before they start catching up. Ed Steer of has a subscription based 5 days/week newsletter that provides much very good information about the Precious Metals market. He also seems to post publicly (free) most every Saturday to The following is one of the many charts that he shows on a regular basis. This shows that for YTD the silver price has risen more than the Silver7 which I just realized that I don’t know exactly what that is. I assume that it is an index or ETF that tracks 7 Silver miners. More later.

Why not us?

(updated 3/1/21)

The mainly big banks have been playing a no lose (so far) game for years.  They have maintained a concentrated short position in gold and silver- selling more when the price is going up to cap the rally and then buying back as they manipulate the price lower. See my article on how they have done this.  As of 2/24/21 the top 8 silver shorts per the CFTC weekly COT report are almost 80000 contracts short silver.  That is the equivalent (at 5000 oz./contract) of almost 400 Moz. of silver.  They seem to be having trouble at this point trying to get out of that position as they have been short this much and more for the last 6 months at least. I have no doubt they will do everything they can to get out of this position without losing their shirts or maybe their companies.  See my Open Letter to the 8 Big Silver Shorts.

I know that Ted Butler has made an estimate on what the entry price of these silver short contracts was, but I can’t find that info right now. But, I am sure it was well under $20/oz. probably around $16 – 17/oz. and they seem very adverse to buying those back at a loss. The top 8 shorts may not be the same for both silver and gold, but they are currently (2/26/21) about $10 billion dollars in the hole- combining realized and unrealized losses.

Woes the big banks- right? I say this is the little guys chance to stick it to the “big boys” for once. We can keep their feet to the fire. The more silver we buy, the more people understand the situation, the higher the price goes, the more they lose, the more we gain. At some point (soon I think) one of them is going to flinch and buy back their short contracts, causing the price to jump up, causing the rest of the big silver shorts to fall like dominoes. How can they buy back a 4 month’s supply? Or the way I look at 350 moz. is over 15 month’s of Available Silver Production for Investment (ASPI) after average silver use, so ASPI is the amount available for investment.

For a long time now the futures market has dictated the price.  That is not the way future markets are supposed to work.  The supply and demand of the physical commodity is supposed determine the price and the futures market is supposed to give producers and users a chance to lay-off some of the risks.  It is upside down in the PM markets and is completely out of hand in the silver market.  For decades Butler has advocated for position limits in the futures market that would prevent these concentrated positions from controlling the price.

You may have heard the expression “silver is the poor man’s gold” and I think the current situation will prove that point. There are millions of people who could buy one ounce of silver per month, but not near that many that could afford an ounce of gold per month. I think gold will do fine in the coming market (see Gold), but I believe that silver will do much better.

Who am I?

My name is Steve McWhirter. I am not an investment adviser, but I have a 35 year long keen interest in silver as an investment. My day job for the last 30 years has been as a Computer Tech. I have found that logic, facts and truth are necessary when troubleshooting a computer problem and they are necessary when trying to determine what is going on with silver. I have been thinking about this website for over 2 years and think now is the time that it will hopefully make a difference. See Why not us?

By the way- for any hardcore Nebraska Cornhuskers football fans – I am not the Steve McWhirter who played for them from 1978 – 1982, he is my cousin.

You can contact me by a Disqus comment or email me at [email protected].


Following are a list of Links that I have found useful for silver info:

Ted Butler– the best precious metals commentary that I have found. He does talk about both gold and silver, but has a keen awareness of the uniqueness of the silver market.  Subscribers  typically get 2 articles per week for $34.95/month.  He also has a Free Archive of articles that he has released to the public over the last 11 years.

Ed Steer’s Gold and Silver Digest– great information on the PM market. Subscriber get charts, much trading info, commentary and links to other interesting articles, 5 days per week for $100 per year. Steer also seems to usually publicly post his Saturday article to the next link listed. has good commentary about the silver market. The articles that Ted Butler makes public are often put on this site.

Kitco is a good place to go for both live and historical gold and silver prices. Following is a link to the Live Silver Price.

Another site that has information about silver and gold.

The Silver Institute publishes much info about silver including the Supply and Demand info that I have used often on this site.
The latest Silver Institute survey is at:

The following is a great graphic/visualization of different markets- silver is the smallest listed:

Silver Manipulation

Again, I think Butler has done a great job of reporting on the silver price manipulation. Following is my attempt to distill how this manipulation has been working, but this explanation is based mainly on Butler’s articles and if you want to dig deeper that is where you should go.

There are 2 groups of traders that do a large portion of the silver trading- the Commercial traders (large banks) and the Managed Money Traders (MMT) (consisting largely of Technical Traders). The Commercials for years have had a large silver futures short position. Typically, the top 4 and top 8 short positions are Commercial traders. The Technical traders buy and sell based on price signals. They are heavily influenced by the 50 and 200 day moving averages (MA). They buy when the price moves above the MAs and they sell when the price moves below the MAs. The Commercials are able to manipulate the price by using High Frequency Trading, spoofing and other tricks, so they can move the MMTs in and out of trades to the advantage of the Commercials. Butler states that the Commercials have never taken a loss on these trades in the last many years until lately. This would defy logic in an un-manipulated market.

I see much commentary out there where people are arguing about exactly who controls this manipulation or why it is happening. The same can be said about Butler’s claim that JPM acquired 1000 Moz. (a billion) of silver over the last 9 years. I think it would be nice to know exactly who is doing what and why, but I don’t think we are going to get that certainty at this point. The main focus needs to be ending the manipulation and then what follows from that will tell us much as to the “who & why”.

Butler’s contention has been that JPM has manipulated the silver market to make a profit. Another “reason” thrown out by some is that JPM has tried to manipulate PM prices to keep the USD strong. I think the profit motive is the stronger case, but the USD motive might be the reason the USG doesn’t try to stop this manipulation.

To me the CFTC’s* COT* report shows the silver manipulation. Butler and others report on the COT each week and it seems that there are more and more commentators talking about the precious metals market and silver in particular. I find it interesting how often I see articles raving about the upside potential of gold and then in their final paragraph they will say “and silver should do even better”.

Remember that both the Commercials and Managed Money Traders (MMTs) are speculators- very little if any legitimate hedging involved. Compared to the annual production of silver the top 8 silver shorts are currently (2/22/21) short about 4.8 months of world silver production. Even more egregious, they are over 18 months short compared to Available Silver Production for Investment (I’m calling this ASPI- see ASPI). This is no more than a high stakes gambling game and the commercials have always fleeced the MMTs up until about a year ago. For the last year the big 8 short traders seem to be “stuck” in their short position and haven’t been able or willing to buy their way out.


Gold and silver have been used as money for millennia until relatively recently.  But, even though they have a historical connection, the current fundamentals of each are very different.  Following are some facts:



There is an estimated 6 billion ounces of above ground gold.

There is an estimated 2 – 2.5 billion ounces of above ground silver bullion in 1000 oz. bars which is the main form used for silver users and investors. About 25 Boz. total in all forms.

Gold has a market value of about $11.6 trillion (at $1940/oz) or about 200 times the market value of silver.

This stockpile of silver has a value of $54 – $68 billion (at $27.10/oz.).

A small percentage of gold gets consumed each year for fabrication/jewelry

Silver is consumed in industry. About 75% of the silver mined for the last 9 years has been consumed with only about 18% of the supply being recycled.

Recently (09/20), the gold/silver ratio has been running around 70:1 and was over 120:1 in March 2020.

Historically, the gold/silver ratio has been much less. Think of the $20 gold piece and the silver dollar- about 16:1 due to the metal weight differences. This is also one of the only disadvantages of silver is that it is heavier per value by that same ratio.

I think that gold will do well in the foreseeable future, but I think silver will do even better.  I see commentators saying that gold is going to $5000 per ounce and higher and they may be right.  But, historically when gold goes up the gold:silver ratio goes down.  In 2011 when silver hit almost $50/oz. the Au:Ag ratio was at 31.5:1.  So, if gold goes up to $5000/oz and the ratio is 31.5:1 then silver will be $158/oz.