American Silver Eagles
Though a relatively young series, American Silver Eagles have become an international bullion success due to the coins’ quality and rich historical significance. Silver Eagles were first struck by the US Mint in 1986 after Senator McClure introduced the Liberty Coin Act, which authorized the coins’ creation in hopes of reducing the national stockpile of silver.
On the obverse of the Silver Eagle, Lady Liberty steps toward a sunrise carrying branches of laurel and oak. Her shoulders are draped with the American flag. This design, created by Adolph A. Weinman, was first used on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar between 1916 and 1947. The Walking Liberty was originally designed to bring beauty back to American coinage, a goal of President Theodore Roosevelt, and the coin became a public success. Weinman’s famed design was chosen because it was unlike the designs on previous coins.
The name “American Silver Eagle” comes from the coin’s reverse—designed by John M. Mercanti—which features an eagle perched behind a shield. It carries arrows and an olive branch in its talons. The original 13 American colonies are represented by a group of five-pointed stars.
Types of American Silver Eagles
Each Silver Eagle is made of one troy ounce of .999 fine silver. These specs, the designs, and the reeded edge remain the same across all Silver Eagle coins. However, the coins are manufactured with different finishes to appeal to both investors and collectors. The types of American Silver Eagles include:
- Brilliant Uncirculated: These are struck with investment in mind, and therefore do not bear mint marks. These coins have a frosted satin finish. Provident sells BU Silver Eagles as they are received from the mint, meaning they have never been circulated among the general public.
- Proof: Made with the collector in mind, these coins have a shiny finish due to a unique minting process where the coin blank is pressed by special dies. Like the BU coins, Provident sells proof Silver Eagles in Brilliant Proof condition.
- Several other types of Silver Eagles have been produced in addition to these two staples. Some examples include special anniversary releases and a burnished finish, along with NGC certified BU and proof coins.
The branch of the US Mint located in San Francisco produced proof Silver Eagles from 1986 to 1992, giving those coins an “S” mint mark. Coins produced from 1993 to 2000 have a “P” for Philadelphia. Since 2001, proof Silver Eagles have the “W” mint mark for West Point.
BU Silver Eagles do not bear a mint mark, which means you will need to know their history to determine where they were made. The Philadelphia location struck BU Silver Eagles from 1986 to 2000, with West Point producing a portion of them between 1999 and 2000. Since 2001, the coins have been manufactured at West Point.
Hundreds of millions of American Silver Eagles have been produced over the past 30 years. While this sounds like a large number, it is actually a rather small when compared to circulation coins. The total number of Silver Eagles made over three decades is comparable to the number of pennies regularly made in just a few weeks.
Investing and Collecting
The relatively limited quantity of these coins—along with high quality production standards and silver sourced directly from American mines—makes them highly collectible. Though American Silver Eagles have a legal tender value of one dollar, the intrinsic value of each coin is far greater.
Investing in silver bullion helps diversify your portfolio and prepare for the financial future of your family. Whether you regularly buy silver or you prefer to buy Silver Eagles upon each new annual release, owning these coins provides you with another source of wealth that is protected against inflation.