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70's silver art bars

Discussion in 'PM's - Coins - Numis - Base Metals' started by GoldWampum, Aug 25, 2010.



  1. GoldWampum

    GoldWampum Midas Member Midas Member

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    Watergate art bar. Pretty cool, huh? Anyone got any fave's?

    48879-watergatebugfront.jpg

    I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

     
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  2. GoldWampum

    GoldWampum Midas Member Midas Member

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    Another

    HoustonCokeFront.jpg

    and another

     
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  3. GOLDZILLA

    GOLDZILLA Harvurd Koleej Jeenyus Midas Member

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    I have that watergate bug bar. It was one of my first forays into silver.
     
  4. GoldWampum

    GoldWampum Midas Member Midas Member

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    Very cool Godzilla. Josie was on to something. Those bars are some cool history.
     
  5. GoldWampum

    GoldWampum Midas Member Midas Member

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    The 'eadless 'orseman.

    eadless orseman.jpg

    The Outlaw. I aincher paw. Hell is coming to breakfast. Dyin' ain't much of a livin'.

     
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  6. GoldWampum

    GoldWampum Midas Member Midas Member

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    From the Norman Rockwell Collection.

    rockwellSpeech.jpg




    OJWjr as William Munny.

     
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  7. newmisty

    newmisty Duppy Conqueror Midas Member

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    I got an assortment of Art Bars and a rounds from an auction site recently. I paid spot with free shipping for the bars :bear_thumb: and a bit of a premium over spot for the round. :thumpdown:

    I'm happy the bars all have capsules!

    Any info on the bars is appreciated...I need to dig up my art bar book and can't find it at the moment.
     

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  8. GoldWampum

    GoldWampum Midas Member Midas Member

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    Great deal IMO. Some nice looking stuff there. I don't really have any right now, but have grown to enjoy looking at them. Gotta getsum.
     
  9. newmisty

    newmisty Duppy Conqueror Midas Member

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    Yeah, I got a Madison Mint The General train art bar and my wife really liked it. Gave me a good excuse to start upping on the art bars, but I got them because of the good bargain. It's hard to get these at spot at auction, especially in any quantity.
     
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  10. GoldWampum

    GoldWampum Midas Member Midas Member

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    Yep, they are pretty popular. I've been looking some.
     
  11. Lore

    Lore Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    These are REALLY NEAT!
     
  12. Chester-Copperpot

    Chester-Copperpot Gold Member Gold Chaser Site Supporter Platinum Bling

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    The last coin looks like the old British 50p coin. I like it.
     
  13. GoldWampum

    GoldWampum Midas Member Midas Member

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    I agree. A very cool looking piece. Hope someone posts more of their own.
     
  14. gilmoujr

    gilmoujr New Member

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    The TEN OUNCE is from the Silver Eagles Nest Set. I have the complete set in the original box(es).
     
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  15. Godot

    Godot Silver Member Silver Miner

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  16. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    Thanks for using my picture. I feel very honored. :) I still have that particular bar and I remember that I paid just over $30 for it last year. I cherish Coca-Cola silver art very much. :)

    Some Coca-Cola silver art bars are very hard to find. Some of the Coca-Cola silver art bars such as Terra Haute(IN), Youngstown (OH), Corinth (MS), Clarksville (TN), and Frederick (MD) are very hard to find because of the very low mintages. These rare Coca-Cola bars usually do well on ebay and some of them can fetch winnings bids as high as $750 (or more).

    If you find a Coca-Cola silver art bar at a coin show or at a local dealer, then it is more than likely either a Chattanooga (TN), Atlanta (GA), or a Nashville (TN). These 3 Coca-Cola bars are the most common minted Coca-Cola art bars and those usually sell for the lowest winning bid premium over spot on ebay which that will, in most cases, be higher than an average common-minted silver sold on ebay.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
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  17. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    That is interesting that you mentioned that particular silver art bar because I bought the General train art bar in August 2008 and that I was on the silver art bars that got into collecting '70's silver art bars. I do not have the General Train anymore because I sold it and other common-minted silver art bars earlier this year during the silver run-up. I currently concentrate on finding and buying rare silver art bars that are on my silver art bar wish list. My favorite types of rare silver art bars are those minted by GreatHouse Productons, Green Country Mint, World Wide Mint (Coca-Cola only) and The Mint. These are very hard to find and most of those rare ones I ended up buying on ebay.
     
  18. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    You might have already found the information that you were looking for in your art bar guide book since I am a year late reponding to this but better late than never.................

    The Great Dane, the Beagle, and German Shephard silver art bars were minted in 1973 by the Justice Mint. These are common-minted silver art bars with a mintage of 5000 for each one. I see those on ebay a lot.


    The Thanksgiving 1974, Indian Head, Independence Day, and America 1776-1976 silver art bars are common-minted Madison Mint silver art bars. I also see these on ebay a lot.

    The silver art bar with the Prospector and the mule was minted in 1980 by Nevada Coin Mart according to the 4th edition Archie Kidd guide book titled "An Indexed Guide Book of Silver Art Bars". I think these are also common-minted. Low rarity value IMO.

    The Queen of Watergate is a common-minted silver art bar that was minted in 1973 by the Colonial Mint.

    The Ride of Paul Revere, Washington Crossing the Deleware, and Signing of the Declaration silver art bars were minted in 1973 by U.S Coinage Corporation. I see several of these on ebay.

    The New York City silver art bar was minted by the Mother-Lode Mint in 1973. With a few exceptions, the Mother-Lode silver art bars are common-minted art bars.

    The 10 Commandments silver art bar is a Silvertowne art bar. Like most Silvertowne art bars, this one is a common bar.

    In conclusion, all of these silver art bars are common silver art bars. I do not see any rare ones that stand out but the common art bars such as the ones shown will fetch a premium but, based on past observations, not much of a premium after you factor in ebay and paypal fees.

    The Thomas Jefferson silver art bar is a Hamilton Mint silver art bar. These typically have mintages of between 5,000 and 10,000 for each bar. This bar is part of a 50-bar set called "Greatest Americans". These are the most common '70's silver art bars that I know of. I also see these at coin shows and local dealer .999 generic silver bins.

    I think that The "Silver Eagle" is part of the Foster Mint eagle set that were minted in 1969-1971 but I will have to double check that because I am not sure.

    The 1993 "For someone Special" is a Candian-minted bar minted by National Mint and that is a common-minted silver art bar. I think that the "Christmas 1973" silver art bar was minted by Madison Mint but I am not sure since it only shows the front of the bar. The holiday-themed silver art bars are also common-minted silver art bars. I usually find these at coin shows, local dealers, and on ebay. Local dealers treat these as .999 generic silver and will price them accordingly. Ebay usually has the highest prices on these types of art bars.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
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  19. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    That Watergate Bug art bar was minted by the Colonial Mint. I have seen a lot of Watergate themed bars that were minted by Colonial Mint, E.J. Aleo & Associates, United State Silver Corporation to name a few private mints that produced WaterGate themed silver art bars.

    I used to have that silver art bar but I sold that bar along with a few other common-minted silver art bars to a local dealer during the silver run-up and used the proceeds to buy rare silver art bars. My silver art bar collection looks much different now than it did two years ago since my collection contains more rare silver art bars now.
     
  20. newmisty

    newmisty Duppy Conqueror Midas Member

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    Better late than never Josey, we've missed you around here! Thank you for breaking down my set. :coolbeer:

    Here are a few more that I was able to get good deals on plus the Old General for nostalgia's sake. I did pay a few over for the coin=o-rama one though, but got free shipping.
     

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    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
  21. ~BS

    ~BS Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    you guys should think about buying 1 oz silver bars at bulliondirect. I've sold quite a bit of old art bars over the years to them. I have a lot of 30 or so about to go out to them. Some of them are art bars. I'll try take a picture tonight. Off the top of my head, i only remember the amark chunkies and a hexagonal bar.
     
  22. Fiat Metaler

    Fiat Metaler Gold Member Gold Chaser

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    i have a crowne mint beauty but i probably shouldn't post a pic.
     
  23. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    If it is the same hexagonal shaped silver that I am thinking of then that particular silver piece was minted in 1980 by the Crown Mint.

    I usually try to buy silver art bar from my local dealer and at coin shows first to see what they have. I was able to find a lot of silver art bars that I wanted using that method. I will also pay a "collector's premium" for certain very rare silver art bars that are on my wish list. This year has been the where I have bought a lot of rare silver art bars on ebay. I have paid between 2X to 4X spot silver for them but those are the ones that I was looking for and were on my silver art bar wish list. The ones that I bought on ebay are nearly impossible to find at local coin shops and at coin shows. I do not mind paying that high of a price for them because I love what I collect.
     
  24. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    I have seen some Crown Mint Beauty silver art bars at past coin shows but I usually see the complete 12-bar set that represents each of month of the year. There are some Crown Mint Beauty silver art bars that represent certain holidays. There is also a "Dr. Peepers" 12-bar set that also have that adult theme (i.e. containes nudity).
     
  25. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    Hmmmmmm............The Coin-O-Rama city one (Mother-Lode Mint) silver art bar is a common-minted silver art bar with a mintage of 15,000. There is a "Cancelled" version of that Coin-A-Rama City bar but that one is much harder to find. If you bought the Coin-A-Rama City on ebay, then I can understand that because some of the common-minted silver art bars sell for between $4-$8 over spot silver (winning bid) based on what I have seen. BIN prices are higher than that.


    The Smoky Mountains silver art bar appears to be a 20 gram silver art bar. I could be wrong on this and if I am, then feel free to correct me on this. I have seen this silver art bar before but I cannot remember if it was minted by Kennedy Mint or The Silver Mint because it has been a long while since I have seen one locally at the coin shop or at coin shows. Most Kennedy Mint and The Silver Mint silver art bars that I have seen are either 20 grams silver weight or 300 grain in silver weight.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  26. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    Here are a few of the many silver art bars that I bought on ebay, from local dealers, and at coin shows in 2011

    Since I like watching professional sports on TV, I have found and bought some sports-themed silver art bars. Here are some that I bought in 2011:


    Some Major League Baseball history...........

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A gold-plated version of the "Babe Ruth Batting" 1-oz .999 silver art bar (SCL-5G). Minted in 1973 by Silver Creations. Mintage of 1000. Serial # 999. I bought this in July from a local dealer for $43.40 (spot was $40.55 at the time).

    Since I am a Lakers Fan................

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is not a '70's silver art bar. This is the enameled version of a "1985 NBA World Champions" silver art bar (TM-43EN). This was minted in 1985 by a private mint called The Mint. Only 174 of these were minted. Hard to see from the reverse side of the picture but the serial # appears to be #23. I bought this on ebay earlier this year and I paid $64.00 for it.


    An NFL silver art bar......


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The enameled version of a 1988 Superbowl Champs - Washington Redskins silver art bar (TM-68EN). Minted by The Mint in 1988. Mintage of 200. Serial # 75 (of 200). Bought it earlier this year on ebay for $99.99. This was very hard to find and I ended up paying a huge premium on it but I love collecting sports-themed silver art bars.


    A Major League Baseball silver art bar...................


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    A "1978 World Series" silver art bar (TM-19). It was minted in 1978 by The Mint. Mintage of only 150. Serial # 75 (out of 150). I bought this last month at a coin show and I paid $60 for it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
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  27. Montecristo

    Montecristo Silver Member Silver Miner

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    Silver Art,

    Your knowledge on these bars is very impressive. This is a much better place with you, than without you.

    I have some cool old bars that I will post when my son comes home from college and can show me how to do it!
     
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  28. newmisty

    newmisty Duppy Conqueror Midas Member

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    Ok, so now I know what rare art bars look like! That Lakers one is great, love the socks.

    Here's the back of the last ones I posted.
     

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  29. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    Thank you Montecristo. :) However, I do not consider myself an expert of silver art bars. There are several silver art bar collectors that have more silver art bar knowledge than I do and they have more experience than I do because they have been collecting longer than I have. I consider myself to be a "student" of the silver art bar hobby and I am always learning from other silver art bar collectors and from my silver art bar guidebooks. As I buy more silver art bars in the future, then I will gain more experience. I love this silver art bar hobby a lot and I do not mind sharing what information and experience that I have pertaining to silver art bars.
     
  30. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    Actually I was wrong on the 20-gram silver 1974 Smoky Mountain Bear art bar. I was thinking that this was a Kennedy Mint or Silver Mint art bar because of the 20-gram weight but I looked in my 4th edition Archie Kidd silver art bar price guide and I found that this Smoky Mountain bar was minted by the Washington Mint. This bar had a mintage of 3000. The more that I think about, it starts to make sense to me because I have seen other Washington Mint silver art bars that were 20-grams in weight in the past.

    I also forgot to mention that Crabtree Mint "Happy Birthday 1974" silver art bar. I have seen that Crabtree bar at one of the coin shows that I attended this year. Generally speaking, holiday themed silver art bars are very common. The only exception are some Christmas silver art bars that were minted by Greathouse Productions in the 1970's and those are very hard to find locally.
     
  31. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    Here are some more silver art bars that I bought in 2011:



    Here are a couple of Greathouse Productions silver art bars that I bought earlier this year.................


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    This is an "Emmett Kelly" silver art bar (TRG-12). This Greathouse Productions bar was minted in 1979 and it has a low mintage of 175. These are serial numbered ans the serial # is on the side of this silver art bar. Serial # 124 . I decided to keep this bar in the airtite when I took the picture. I bought silver art bar on ebay and I paid $92.49 for it.



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    This is also a Greathouse Productions silver art bar. It is an "Abbott and Costello" silver art bar (TRG-2V1). This one was minted in 1978. This is the version that has the mis-spelling of Abbott. I also bought this one on ebay but I paid only $31.14 for it. The reason that I paid that price for it because I had some ebay bucks that knocked that price. This type of Greathouse bar would have sold for between $65-$85 on ebay. This one is also serial numbered (serial # 133) but I did not take a side picture of it because I wanted to keep this bar in an airtite. The mintage number for this particular bar is 175.


    These Greathouse silver art bars are nearly impossible to find in my local area coin dealers and at coin shows. All of the Greathouse silver art bars that I have in my collection I bought on ebay because ebay is the only place that I can find them.


    Here is an example of a Green Country Mint silver art bar.........................


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This is the only Green Country Mint silver art bar that I have in my silver art bar collection. It is a "From Graceland to the Promised Land" bar (GCM-10). This one was minted in 1978 and has a mintage of 100. Serial # 34. I bought this silver art bar on ebay and I paid $131.00 for it. These Green Country Mint bars are even rarer than the Greathouse bars. The mintages on most of these Green Country bars range from 100 to 150 for each bar. These are even hard to find on ebay if one wanted to bid on one. There are several of these bars selling for $200+ but I do not want to pay that much for one. I usually wait for a Green Country Mint silver art bar auction to bid on but it was been a long while since I have seen one to bid on. These are impossible to find in my local area coin shops.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2012
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  32. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    Here is another one of many silver art bar purchases that I made so far in 2011...........................


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    It is "Sir Winston Churchill" silver art bar (SCL-20V). It was minted in 1972 by Silver Creations. I bought this in June 2011 from a coin dealer while I was traveling out of town and I paid $38.91 for it (spot silver was $35.31/oz at that time).

    Even though it was stamped .999 fine silver, it was not stamped with the weight. I decided to put it on my scale to weigh it.....................

    [​IMG]

    The regular version of this silver art bar has a mintage of 1000 but when I looked in my silver art bar price guide, my version of this bar has a mintage of only 10 according to what my latest silver art bar price guide says. The difference between the regular version and my version of this silver art bar is that the reverse side of regular version says "Limited Edition 1000" and the reverse side of my version does not say that. That must have been some sort of an error on Silver Creation's part but I am not sure. The reguler version is also serial numbered while mine does not have a serial number.


    The 10 silver art bars that I posted on this thread are just some of the many silver art bars that I currently have in my silver art bar collection. My silver art bar collection looks a lot different now than it did a year ago. The major differnece is that I have more rare silver art bars in my collection. I bought most of the very hard to find silver art bars (Greathouse Productions, Green Country, and The Mint) on ebay this year but I also got lucky to find a few rare silver art bars from various dealers in my local area for .999 generic silver premium and I also had some luck finding some rare silver art bars for .999 generic silver premium at some of the many coin shows that I attended so far this year. I think that the much higher spot silver price had a lot to do with some of these rare silver art bars coming "out of the closet" so to speak and ending up at a dealer's table selling for only .999 generic silver premiums.


    From this point on, I will post a few random silver art bar pictures of any silver art bars that I come across and purchase in the future that are very interesting or unusual to me. I also want to say thank you to GoldWampum for creating this silver art bar thread. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2011
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  33. newmisty

    newmisty Duppy Conqueror Midas Member

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    I really like the back of that WC bar. Most all of the bars you have posted, I have never seen. Keep em coming.

    I bought this one for spot plus shipping a few months back. It's my, "honey I bought silver for you" bar. :) I find giving gold and silver "to the Mrs." helps garnish a few extra purchases a month.
     

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  34. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    Those silver art bars that I posted are really hard to find. I got very lucky on several rare silver art bar finds at my local dealers and at some coin shows that I went to this year. So far this year, I went to a total of 16 coin shows and I found some very interesting silver art bars at some of those coin shows that I went to. I like going to the local dealers and going to the coin shows because I never know what silver art bars I will find there. For me, it is fun looking for and finding rare silver art bars and paying only .999 generic silver premiums for them.

    As I right now, I have not been able to find a Greathouse Productions or a Green Country Mint silver art bar locally. Maybe one day I will find a Greathouse or a Green Country Mint silver art bar at a local dealer or a coin show for a .999 generic silver premium. The Greathouse silver art bars and the one Green Country Mint silver art bar that I currently have in my collection came from me winning them (or buying them at BIN prices) on ebay at a very high premium.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2011
  35. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    Here are some books that deal with silver art bars. Most of these silver art bar guidebooks are very old but some of these have been very useful to me as a silver art bar collector for a reference guide.

    I could be wrong here but I believe that this is the very first silver art bar guidebook to come out..................

    [​IMG]

    I would like to thank a GIM2 poster by the name of Rodzm that had an extra one. I bought this guidebook from him and I appreciate this very much. Thank you Rodzm.

    Here is another silver art bar guidebook that came out that most people may not have seen.

    [​IMG]

    It is thinner than the first gudebook (see 1st picture) but it has some history on certain silver art bars. Another silver art bar collector that I know gave this one to me because he already had one. A very interesting read IMO.


    Here are some Archie Kidd silver art bar price guides that I have:

    The 4th edition.................

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    This was published in 1986. I bought mine on ebay. I use this a reference to identify certain silver art bars and it has helped me ever since I bought it. This one has illustrations of the silver art bars that were minted in the 1970's and 1980's.

    The 5th edition of the Archie Kidd silver art bar price guide is the best silver art bar guide but I do not have that silver art bar guide because those cost a lot. I have seen these 5th editions sell for between $150 to $300 on ebay. That guidebook has more silver art bar illustrations and listings in it than the 4th edition does. The 5th edition came was published in 1991 and there was a revison to that 5th edition guidebook in 2007 which also is very expensive based on what I have seen on ebay in the past.

    Even though I do not have the 5th edition Archie Kidd Guidebook, I do have the suppliment to the 5th edition. It was published in 1993. I paid $40 for it on ebay and here is what it looks like:

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    This is useful to me because it lists the illustrations of some The Mint sports-themed silver art bars that I love to collect.


    The 6th edition Archie Kidd guidebook.....................

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    I also bought this on ebay and I think that I paid $50 (plus shipping) for it. It also has illustrations of silver art bars but this guidebook lists silver art bars that were minted after the 5th edition book came out. This guidebook also lists silver art bars that were left out of the 5th edition price guide. This guidebook is useful to identify silver art bar that were minted in the 1990's and 2000's (up to 2008 I beleive).


    This is the most recent silver art bar guidebook that I have......................

    [​IMG]

    This is a 2009 Archie Kidd-IASAC silver art bar guidebook. I bought this one on ebay. This silver art bar guidebook does not have any illustrations of any silver art bars in it. It supposidly has the most up to date mintage numbers as well as up-to-date rarity values, however, I do not look at the rarity values, because I feel that ebay is the best gauge for the value of a silver art bar. This has been most useful to me to get current mintage numbers of silver art bars. This 2009 guidebook is really a combination of the 5th and 6th Archie Kidd priceguides minus the illustrations.

    The Archie Kidd silver art bar price guide is the "Red Book" of silver art bar collecting.


    Here is a silver art bar price guide specfically for Coca-Cola silver art bars:

    [​IMG]

    It is titled "Coca-Cola Bottlers' 75th Anniversary Ingot and Round Guide Book 1975 to 1988". This guidebook was written by Tom Mock and this is the 2nd edition of this book. This 2nd edition was published in January 2009. I bought this on ebay and I think that I paid $50 (plus shipping) for it. As far as I know, ebay is the only place that you can find this book. This is a very useful guidebook because it identifes the various Coca-Cola art bars and art rounds that came out from 1975 to 1988. It also has history about the mint that create them as well as mintage numbers on certain Coca-Cola bars and rounds. I had past communicaton with Thomas Mock and he has been very helpful to me. I recommend this book for people who want to learn more about Coca-Cola silver art bars or that want to identify the Coca-Cola bars that are in their collection.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2011
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  36. newmisty

    newmisty Duppy Conqueror Midas Member

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    Was out diving and found another bar I acquired a while back. I bought it because it was a nice looking bar and around spot. Seems like it'll fit in with my ATB collection. :)
     

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  37. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    That bar is part of the 50-bar set called "America the Beautiful" series that was minted by the Hamilton Mint in 1974 and 1975. The mintage number is 10,000 for each bar in that 50-bar set according to the 4th edition of the Archie Kidd guidebook titled "An Indexed Guide Book of Silver Art Bars". These are very common and I have seen several of these at various coin shows that I attended this year as well seeing them during numerous times at various local coin shops. The art work is very beautiful to look at. These "America The Beautiful" Hamilton Mint bars are the "history picture cards" of the silver art bar world.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011
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  38. newmisty

    newmisty Duppy Conqueror Midas Member

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    Great post JW! Those books are works of art themselves. I like the quote on the cover "Art Bars, Miniature Art Masterpieces Minted in Pure Silver Ingots"

    I too thank rodzm for that heads up. I was able to get one of the few books that seller had on ebay and it is in mint condition. Still have the receipt. $6 plus shipping. :2:
     

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  39. southfork

    southfork Mother Lode Found Mother Lode

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    Most of the 70s art bars are drying up, either melted or being hoarded by people like me who take a fancy to the old ones, used to see tons of them 4/5 years ago now lucky to see a few at any given coin show, some dealers are now catagorizing them as choice bars and asking a 5 buck preium on them, glad I got what I did when I did.
     
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  40. Silver Art

    Silver Art Silver Art Bar collector Platinum Bling

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    I started noticing those '70's silver art bars starting to dry up earlier this year. Some of the coin shows that I went to are asking for a higher premiums on some of them. Some local dealers still treat them and price them like .999 generic silver but I do not see many of them now overall like I used to. However, I have still had some luck in finding an occasional rare silver art bar selling for .999 generic premiums. Silver art bar hunting for me this year has been much harder than in previous years.
     

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