The American Eagle Silver coins are beautiful collectibles and affordable investments that are highly popular among coin collectors and silver enthusiasts. These coins are the official silver bullion coins of the United States. Since they’re legal tender, they’re currently the only silver bullion coins with backing from the United States government for purity and weight. Additionally, they’re the only silver coins that you can deposit into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
Containing 99.9% silver, the American Silver Eagle coin has a face value of $1. It weighs 1 troy ounce and measures 1.59 inches in diameter . This coin has been struck at three different facilities of the United States Mint: the Philadelphia Mint, the San Francisco Mint and the West Point Mint. It’s part of the American Eagle Coin Program, which also produces gold and platinum eagle coins.
The American Eagle Silver dollar coins come in several forms, including:
- Bullion coins: Bullion silver coins are valued according to the weight of silver they contain, meaning their prices are dependent on the spot price of silver. These coins are sold to the general public through coin dealers, not the United States Mint.
- Proof coins: Proof coins are the finest version of American Silver Eagles the United States Mint has produced. They’re struck more than once, which gives them a beautiful shine, a mirror-like background and detailed images. They come with a protective capsule and a certificate of authenticity. The federal mint sells these numismatic coins directly to coin collectors and other people as keepsakes or gifts.
- Uncirculated coins: These coins are made in the same way as circulated coins, but they have undergone a special process that results in a matte-like appearance. Similar to proof coins, they also come with a certificate of authenticity.
After the Peace Dollar was discontinued in 1935, there wasn’t a silver dollar in circulation for about five decades. In July 1985, Congress enacted the Liberty Coin Act to create the new American Eagle Silver coin . The act defined the coin’s physical specifications and legal tender status and authorized the United States Treasury Secretary to produce and issue them.
The first American Silver Eagle was minted in San Francisco in October 1986. Later on, the mints at Philadelphia and West Point participated in the production of the coin. These three facilities also struck the proof version of the American Silver Eagle. The United States Mint released collectible uncirculated American Eagles from 2006 to 2008 and again in 2011. Produced in West Point, these coins are sometimes referred to as ‘burnished uncirculated’ because they’re struck on burnished blanks.
Production and sales of American Silver Eagles were suspended on several occasions. In 2008, the global recession led to a dramatic increase in demand for the coins as investors rushed to buy them to hedge against the adverse economic situation. Unable to meet the high demand, the United States Mint suspended sales of the coins in February 2008 and temporarily stopped production of proof and uncirculated versions in March 2009.
The federal Mint suspended sales of American Silver Eagle bullion coins again in 2013 due to overly high demand. The high demand continued into the following years, resulting in two sellouts between 2014 and 2015.
In March 2020, the West Point Mint, which is believed to be the only facility that produced American Silver Eagle bullion coins between 2018 and early 2020, was temporarily closed after an employee was found to have COVID-19. Production resumed at the beginning of the following month, though they reduced bullion coin production to prevent further COVID-19 exposure. They shut down for another week later in April due to safety concerns.
To make up for the reduced amount of American Silver Eagle bullion coins, the Philadelphia Mint struck 240,000 coins in April. They have been dubbed Emergency Issue coins, which has led to high demand for them among collectors.
The $1 face value of the American Silver Eagles is far below their intrinsic value. The value of these coins is mainly dependent on fluctuations in the spot price of silver and ongoing supply and demand factors. The mintages and prices of bullion, uncirculated and proof Silver Eagles are widely varied, so it’s important to do proper research to determine if a particular American Silver Eagle you find for sale is worth its price.
In general, the American Eagle Silver bullion coins have been produced in the millions, whereas the uncirculated and proof versions have been minted in the hundreds of thousands. Most bullion coins are relatively affordable and traded at prices slightly above their intrinsic value. Uncirculated and proof coins typically sell for more, and some specific issues and special anniversary sets can fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars.
One of the main reasons why so many people buy American Eagle Silver coins is because of their attractive and historically significant design. The obverse side of the Silver Eagle is based on Adolph A. Weinman’s iconic ‘Walking Liberty’ design, which was featured on the silver half dollar issued from 1916 to 1947. As one of the most popular designs in modern United States coinage history, this image was used to create the American Silver Eagle several decades later.
The American Silver Eagle got its name from the image on its reverse side. Designed by engraver John Mercanti, this side of the coin shows a heraldic eagle with outstretched wings behind the national shield, which signifies American pride and strength. The eagle clutches arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other, symbolizing strength through peace. It also carries a ribbon in its beak that bears the Latin phrase ‘E Pluribus Unum,’ which means ‘Out of many, one.’ Above the eagle’s head, 13 stars form an inverted triangle, representing America’s original 13 colonies .
Due to their $1 face value, American Silver Eagle coins are widely regarded as the modern-day silver dollars. Since they have been issued in many varieties over the past four decades, they’re fun and challenging to collect. People from around the world buy American Silver Eagles because of their beauty, credibility and affordability, as well as their upside potential.
1. CoinNews. ‘The American Eagle Silver Coin: History, Design, Prices and Mint Figures,’ https://www.coinnews.net/coins/the-american-eagle-silver-coin-history-design-prices-and-mint-figures. Accessed September 21, 2020.
2. Modest Pie. ‘A Comprehensive Guide to the American Silver Eagle,’ https://www.modestpie.com/docs/A-Comprehensive-Guide-to-the-American-Silver-Eagle.pdf. Accessed September 21, 2020.
3. CoinWeek. ‘2020 American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins: The Last of Their Breed,’ https://coinweek.com/bullion-report/2020-american-silver-eagle-bullion-coins-the-last-of-their-breed. Accessed September 21, 2020.