Enameled art bars and rounds start with the production run of the bar or round. Some mints produce a pre-determined limited mintage of the enameled run to increase the rarity and the value. Other mints, like SilverTowne will produce an unlimited non-enameled production run and unlimited enameled production run. The total mintage from each run is usually unknown and can run over multiple years.
The first enameled bars and rounds produced were hand painted the same as are today’s enameled bars and rounds. The difference from the early bars to the modern bars is the modern bars have a protective coating applied after the enameling process to protect the enamel from chipping or rubbing off. This tough coating also prevents the bar from toning. The coating is only applied to the front of the bar or round.
The early enameled art bars and art rounds are very collectible, desirable, and command a premium over the production run, adding to the value of the piece are factors such as a serial number, a canceled addition, the overall condition of the enamel and the actual mintage. Another factor to take into consideration is the pre-1980 bars and rounds were melted for spot price when silver went from a few dollars to over $50.00 in 1980. It is unknown how many of these bars or rounds survived the great melt of 1980. When these bars come to market they are usually purchased at the asking price and don’t last long.
In today’s market the enamel version of bars and rounds are in great demand. Mints such as CMG produced the enameled version in limited quality with attributes such as a serial numbers, low mintage, and glow in the dark paint, which make the version very desirable to the collector and investor alike. The production run is usually sold out before they get to market with pre-orders sales.
Producing the enameled version of the bars and rounds starts after the production run. The bar or round is sent to an artist to be painted according to the colors provided the artist by the mint. After the enamel process is complete the protective coating is applied and the bar or round is ready for sale.
Another attraction to the collector or investor in enameled bars and rounds is to purchase the enameled version and the non-enameled version of the bar or round with the same serial number producing a set. Mints will produce two bars with the same serial number for this purpose. The set may not be limited to these two versions, you may be able to get a canceled version or gold plated version with the same serial number. Research will prove key to complete a set with the same serial numbers.
Enameled bars and rounds command a higher premium over the non-enameled version. For the collector or investor the enameled version continues to command a higher return and is more desirable than the non-enameled version, making the bar or round the better choice.