An Introduction to Gold & Silver Polar Bear Coins

silverpolarbearcoinMinted by the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM), the producer of all Canadian coins in circulation, the Polar Bear coin is a branded bullion coin similar to the Maple Leaf in that it is guaranteed for purity and weight. Like the Maple Leaf and several other approved bullion coins, it is eligible for inclusion in a self-directed or “gold” IRA (SD-IRA). Available in both gold and silver, the Polar Bears are 99.99% Pure.

These coins are not to be confused with the Canadian $2 coin in circulation known as the “toonie,” which also features a polar bear on the reverse side. The RCM issued a platinum Polar Bear coin set in 1990 that is different from the gold and silver coins the mint recently released.

When the silver Polar Bear coin debuted during the latter months of 2012, it soon became popular among collectors and investors alike. It was the first “oversized” coin released by the RCM, weighing 1.5 ounces but is no longer available at the RCM website. Current silver Polar Bear coins listed at the RCM include

Notice that the gold Polar Bear ½ oz. coin is no longer listed at the RCM website. At present, the gold Polar Bear coins available from the RCM are

Canadian citizens should note that the RCM exempts the latter gold coin from the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the combined Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

The RCM has released the “O Canada 1/2 oz. silver coin series” and the “O Canada 1/10 oz. pure gold coin series.” These “Canadian Wildlife Series” sets include twelve different images on the reverse side of the coin and the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. The coin series feature the Polar Bear, Caribou, Wolf and Beaver as well as other iconic Canadian images. These coins may be available from the RCM through subscription service.

The coin series sets are marketed to collectors. Of interest to investors are the 1.5 oz. silver and the 0.25 oz. gold Polar Bear coins. Below are the published coin specifications:

Gold Polar Bear ($10)

  • Issued by the Royal Canadian Mint
  • Issue Year: 2013
  • Uncirculated Condition
  • IRA Eligible
  • 0.25 oz. Fine Gold
  • Purity and Weight Guaranteed

Silver Polar Bear ($8)

  • Issued by the Royal Canadian Mint
  • Issue Year: 2012
  • Uncirculated Condition
  • IRA Eligible
  • 1.5 oz. Fine Silver
  • Purity and Weight Guaranteed

Note that these coins can be difficult to find, particularly the gold Polar Bear. This scarcity may account for the fact that the Polar Bears sell for premium prices. In fact, as of 28 October 2013 the silver Polar Bears sell well in excess of $40 per coin. Even with the extra half ounce, the Polar Bear cannot compare pricewise with investment-grade coins like the silver American Eagle or bullion rounds and bars.

If you want to buy bullion for inclusion in a SD-IRA, the coins and bars listed below are the most popular choices:

  • American Eagle 1 oz. gold coins
  • Canadian Maple Leaf 1 oz. gold coins
  • American Eagle 1 oz. silver coins
  • Canadian Maple Leaf 1 oz. silver coins
  • 100 oz. silver bars 99.99% Pure
  • 1000 oz. silver bars 99.99% Pure

As for the coins available from RCM website, save for the now sold-out $20 silver Polar Bear, these are “proof” coins. These admittedly beautiful coins are struck multiple times and burnished to bring out a softly frosted hue that highlights detailed images. While acceptable for inclusion in a SD-IRA, the buyer typically pays 20% or more in commission for a coin that often costs twice as much as the spot market price for a comparable amount of the same metal. The uninitiated investor will find that, should he wish to resell his proof coins, he will most likely take a considerable loss.

The message is clear: if you are an investor interested in adding precious metals to a SD-IRA, leave the proof coins to collectors. As for the .25 oz. gold and 1.5 oz. silver Polar Bear coins, other bullion coins and bars may make better investment choices.