Johnson Matthey dates back to the 1800s when Percival Johnson began a business assaying gold. His London based enterprise commenced in 1817 and gained some initial prestige, and in 1851, the company was joined by George Matthey, at which point there was a name change to Johnson and Matthey.
Perhaps the biggest year in the company’s history was in 1847 when they won sole rights to the minting of silver coins in Britain. This provided the company with massive amounts of business as they produced every denomination of coin. During this period coin designs were adapted and Johnson Matthey had the capacity and the opportunity to stamp their mark on UK coins forever.
The company shifted their focus somewhat in the 1970s and are now largely engaged in the automobile industry through the production of catalysts that reduces pollution. During the 1970s they also started the minting of bars of silver.
If you look at the company profile today, you’ll see it dominated by the catalytic product production for the motor industry. They also continue to produce a lot of silver though, and in fact 2012 saw the company lose revenue in all parts of its business except for the precious metal section.
Johnson Matthey Silver Products
JM have traditionally manufactured silver in the form of rounds, and as bars of 1 ounce, 10 ounce and 100 ounce sizes. To increase their cost effectiveness the company have stopped producing small silver bars and concentrate on larger weights. 1 ounce and 10 ounce bars, when found in the marketplace, tend to show signs of tarnishing from being handled over the years.
The purity of JM silver bars is .999, the same as most of their competitors. It is only really Royal Canadian Mint that go to the next level producing “four 9 bars”. The purity of JM silver bars is guaranteed, and is stamped onto each bar along with the troy ounce weight and serial number.
Johnson Matthey stopped manufacturing struck silver bars before 1990, so these are only available when an existing owner is looking to liquefy their investment. Scarcity can lead to higher prices for certain pours and designs, so be careful to only buy Johnson Matthey silver bars which are primarily valued for their silver content – not their rarity or collectibility.
The Price of JM Silver Bars
Demand for Johnson Matthey 100 ounce silver bars is currently outstripping production supply, so premiums are higher than RCM, Academy and OPM silver bars. Their recent limited run of 1 oz pressed silver bars sold at around $2.50 over spot per ounce, while standard 100 oz bars (lightly circulated) typically sell at the retail level around $1 over spot per ounce.
A Popular Silver Investment
Johnson Matthey Silver bars are an extremely popular way to invest in silver, as they are relatively close to the spot price of silver by weight. They are not the cheapest bar out there, but are one of the best names in the industry, providing real benefits when it comes time to sell.
Generic bars are cheaper but will likely be harder to sell, as JM is certainly a company that can be trusted. Their bars can be found on JM Bullion, APMEX and most of the big online precious metal websites.