American Silver Eagles (1986-Date)
More than 200 million American Silver Eagles have been struck since the American Silver Eagle was first issued in 1986. As the year is considered the inauguration of the series, the Silver Eagles struck in 1986 remained popular with collectors.
In this year, the US began striking silver and gold bullion coins in order to compete with the world bullion coins. Their value was supposed to be tied directly to the value of the metal used but, in cases where mintages are low, collector markets were developed.
Until 2010, the American Silver Eagles were the first and only US-issued silver bullion coin.
The Silver Eagles were popularly known as American Eagles because of the family of eagles that is featured on the reverse side. The coins are available in proof and uncirculated versions. There are different sets available as well.
The obverse of the US silver bullion coins featured the artistic design of the Half Dollars that were issued from 1916-1947. The design was created by Adolphe A. Weinman. The design on the reverse side was created by John Mercanti.
Because of the rise in silver spot prices, the popularity of the American Silver Eagle skyrocketed, with each year seeing 10 of million coins struck.
The creation of the Silver Eagles was propelled by the desired sale of silver from the Defense National Stockpile. But because the politicians from the major silver producing state, Idaho, insisted the sale to be postponed indefinitely, proposals were introduced to dispose of the silver by producing Mint-issued bullion coins.
By 2002, it became clear that the stockpile that the Defense National Stockpile is authorized to purchase would soon be depleted. This resulted in the creation of the Support the American Eagle Silver Bullion Program Act of 2002 that authorized silver to be purchased as needed by the Mint on the open market.
Each one of the Silver Eagles has a face value of $1. It is made of an alloy of 99.93% silver and .07% copper.
There are uncirculated versions of the Silver Eagles that are sold through the Authorized Purchasers program by the Mint. Except for the 2006-2008 W-mintmarked “burnished” issues, collectors can purchase proofs directly from the Mint. For a proof coin, the 1986 Proof Silver Eagle has the highest mintage, with a total of 1,446,778 produced at the San Francisco Mint. The issue bore the “S” mint mark.
The bullion versions were struck in the following mints:
- At the San Francisco Mint from 1986 to 1998.
- At Philadelphia and West Point in 1999 and 2000.
- At West Point only from 2001 to 2010.
- At San Francisco in 2011 to supplement those minted in West Point and meet the increased demand.
The Professional Coin Grading Service encapsulates a limited number of Mint State 2004 Silver Eagle coin that comes with an insert signed by Kathryn D. Sullivan, a former NASA astronaut. Strapped boxes of 500 coins, on the other hand, will have a note on the holder that specifies the Mint. NGC will note “Struck at San Francisco Mint,” for example.
Five ounce America the Beautiful .999 fine silver bullion coins were issued by the Mint in 2010.