The American Silver Eagle coin’s front features an engraved picture of Lady Liberty. Based on the particular design, the rear side showcases a bald eagle with an oak branch or olive branches and arrows in its claws.
The United States Mint has been making the coin since 1986. Several million are made each year, continuing to date. The U.S. government backing the currency is a major driving force behind the high mintage figures.
Since the coin is the official silver bullion of America, the U.S. government guarantees the bullion’s content, purity, and authenticity.
Very few silver bullion coins capture the hearts and brains of coin collectors and investors. The American Silver Eagle coin is one of them and arguably at the top of the list. The silver bullion’s high silver content, iconic design, history, etc., are some of its hallmarks. It is not any silver coin. It symbolizes American culture and history in the truest sense.
Undoubtedly, the coin has been the silver coin of choice of many people keen on diversifying their investment portfolio and adding some precious metal to their kitty. The numismatics world has held the coin high, positioning it in the upper echelons of investment-grade coins. Although the coin’s gold version is more valuable, the silver version is more “value-for-money.”
If you want to buy the coin, know the coin first. This article discusses the following to help you achieve that goal:
- A brief intro to the coin; its specifications; mintage, etc.
- Reasons to invest in the silver bullion
- The different variants of the coin (proof, uncirculated, etc.)
- Legitimate places to buy the coin and much more
Keep reading to learn more about the coin, its specifications, and why it is so popular among buyers and coin collectors.
About the American Silver Eagle Coin
The American Silver Eagle coin is America’s official silver bullion coin. Minted at the United States Mint, it is an iconic, history-infused silver bullion coin. American Silver Eagles are graded for their condition, rarity, and purity, ensuring the highest quality among silver bullion coins.
The Silver Eagle coin was first made in 1986 alongside the original batch of American Eagle gold coins. It was when silver demand was high, and the interest in American silver coins was skyrocketing. When the United States Mint issued the coins, they sold out quickly.
The coin has been made in millions over the years, with production still on. It’s worth noting that the 1985 Liberty Coin Act paved the way for the American Eagle Coin program. The Act necessitated America's excess silver during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s be converted into fine silver bullion coins.
Specifications, Mintage, and Sales
As stated above, the American Silver Eagle coins have been in production since 1986. The coin is struck in the one troy-ounce avatar weighing 31.1 grams. Its nominal face value is one U.S. dollar. The currency measures 40.6 mm (1.598 inches) diametrically and is 2.98 mm (0.1173 inches) thick. The edges are reeded, providing a semblance of grip when handled. The U.S. Mint certifies the coin’s weight, content, and purity.
The American Silver Eagle coins are made at the Philadelphia Mint, West Point Mint, and San Francisco Mint. The very first Silver American Eagle was struck on October 29, 1986 in San Francisco—which according to James A. Barker III, the then U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, kickstarted the 1986 San Francisco Silver Rush. The coins were sold to individuals and verified dealers, who procured the silver in bulk and sold them to retailers.
More than 500 million Silver American Eagle coins have been sold to date. Millions of American Silver Eagles are made and sold annually. The United States Mint produces more than 10 million American Silver Eagles annually. The sales numbers breached 4.6 million for the first time in a single month in January 2011. The record was previously 4.3 million a couple of months ago, in November 2010. The high demand was due to the 2008 recession and people’s sinking faith in fiat money.
Why Invest in the American Silver Eagle Coin?
The American Silver Eagle coin is a great investment asset for those who fancy tangible investments, not stocks or bonds. It is intrinsically valuable and will not plummet in value like paper currency. The silver coin is better than its gold version since it’s more attainable or lighter on the pocket. In other words, the Silver American Eagle is a no-brainer for those who cannot afford to set up their precious metals portfolio with gold.
Unlike other silver coinage, the silver American Eagle coins are made to be more valuable than their melt values. And because the demand is usually more than the available supply, the coin invariably trades for a higher value than other silver coins. Long story short, the Silver American Eagles are a great choice if you want to invest in precious metals.
American Silver Eagle Coin Design
The American Eagle silver coin displays Lady Liberty on the obverse. The front also has inscribed the year of issuance or minting, the “IN GOD WE TRUST” phrase, and the term “LIBERTY.” The Libertas figure, a Roman Goddess, can be seen marching toward or with the sun in the background.
The coin’s aesthetics is based on Adolph A. Weinman’s “Walking Liberty” design, first used on the United States Walking Liberty Half Dollar coin between 1916 and 1947. Since the Liberty design is familiar and beloved to the American public, the U.S. Mint also chose to use the design for the American Eagle coin series.
The rear of the coin depicted a heraldic eagle with the national shield in front. The eagle grasps arrows with its left arm, and the right paw holds an olive branch. Over the eagle’s head are thirteen downward-pointing stars representing Thirteen American Colonies. The coin’s rear also has the phrases “1 OZ. FINE SILVER,” “ONE DOLLAR,” and “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” etched.
The letter “W” is a mint mark representing the West Point Mint. If the coin is made at the San Francisco Mint or the Philadelphia Mint, it will bear no mint mark, or the marks will be “S” and “W,” respectively. It’s worth noting that the bullion version of the coins has no mint mark.
John Mercanti, an American engraver and sculptor, conceived the rear of the Silver Eagles issued between 1986 and 2021. However, the 2021 American Silver Eagles are courtesy of Emily Damstra, a coin and medal designer who overhauled the coin’s rear design. Instead of the center-positioned eagle, the new coin’s rear showcases the bald American eagle flying and holding oak or laurel branches for its crib.
The coin’s face value, purity, and the words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” are also engraved on the back. The new currency also has the Latin phrase “E PLURIBUS UNUM” engraved, meaning “Out of many, one.” In our opinion, the new design is cleaner and more modern.
American Eagle Silver Coin Metal Contents
American Eagle silver coins are 99.9 percent fine silver. The one-troy-ounce coin (31.1 grams of silver) is relatively big and hefty compared to similar bullion coins.
American Silver Eagle Coin Proof and Uncirculated Coin
The American Silver Eagle also has a proof version and an uncirculated variant, which should interest collectors. The basic design and dimensions of the proof Silver Eagle coins are identical to the bullion coin. The proof coins, however, bear mint marks, as stated earlier.
The coin has the “S” mark engraved if made at the S.F. mint. The letters “P” and “W” denote the mints at Philadelphia and West Point, respectively. The proof silver was first made at the San Francisco unit. Between 1993 and 2000, the Philadelphia Mint took over the coin’s production. The West Point Mint handled things between 2001 and 2008. No proof coins were made in 2009. The proof version’s production resumed in 2010 in West Point.
As mentioned above, the Silver Eagles also come in uncirculated avatars. The uncirculated coins were made between 2006 and 2008. After a gap of three years, production resumed in 2011. The coins, also called “Burnished Uncirculated” or “W Uncirculated,” are struck using specially burnished blanks. For the 25th Anniversary of the Silver Eagle coins, the San Francisco Mint issued an uncirculated burnished Silver Eagle with the “S” mintmark. Not to mention, the American Silver Eagle has had several special issues over the years.
Regarding proof coin mintage figures, close to 1.5 million Silver Eagle proof coins were made. Not to mention, the proof coins are more valuable than the bullion American Silver Eagles. The comparatively fewer numbers and the striking finish are reasons the proof coin is valued higher. In 2008, a variant of the proof coin was released. The coin was a proof silver version with minor changes to the design.
American Eagle Silver Coin Value and Prices
The American Eagle coin bears a face value of a dollar, which doesn’t represent the coin’s actual value. The currency’s true market worth relates to its silver’s melt value. Ongoing supply-demand and the fluctuating spot price of silver majorly determine the value of a Silver Eagle. The proof and uncirculated versions usually trade for a higher price than the silver bullion coins.
Also, the older the coin, the more valuable it could be. The mix of availability and age ascertains value. And if the 1986 coin is the proof coin type, it will be even more collector-worthy and, therefore, pricier. Not to mention, buy the coins at authorized dealers or from the U.S. Mint directly to buy genuine coins. By the way, the current (April 2023) price of a 1 oz. American Eagle Silver bullion coin is approximately $47. The uncirculated coin and the proof version sell for more.
American Silver Eagle Coin: Where to Buy
Since the American Silver Eagle coin is popular bullion, you can buy it at multiple places. They are available at precious metal dealers and jewelers both online and offline. You can even buy American Silver Eagles at banks—a testament to the coin’s relevance as a veritable financial instrument.
If you want to buy American Silver Eagle coins online, buy them directly from the United States Mint here. But if you don’t get to snag a few from the U.S. Mint, other reputable sellers such as JM Bullion, APMEX, and SD Bullion are good places to shop.
Note that the U.S. Mint prefers selling the coin in bulk to authorized purchasers, such as coin dealers, wholesalers, banks, brokerage firms, and precious metal companies. The coins are usually sold at a premium to them, who will add their margins before selling them to retail buyers.
Silver is arguably the most cost-efficient metal for investing. And what better form of silver to invest in than an American Eagle Silver? The Silver Eagle is a cost-effective and convenient way to add physical silver to your investment portfolio. However, unlike the American Gold Eagle, the silver coin comes in only one size. If you fancy a bigger coin, we recommend buying more than one. Just be careful of where you buy them. Since the American Eagle is a highly coveted bullion coin series, it’s easy to shop for the coin at the wrong places and land with fakes. The dealers linked above are the authorized vendors to choose from.
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Is the American Silver Eagle coin IRA eligible?
Yes, the American Silver Eagle coins are eligible for an IRA (individual retirement account). The two major attributes that render the bullion IRA-worthy are the coin’s high purity levels and the fact the United States Mint, a government mint, makes it.
Are American Silver Eagle coins a good investment?
Yes, the American Silver Eagles are solid investments. Their purity, high collectability, historicity, popularity, etc., make them a great investment choice. The coin is the U.S.’ official silver bullion coin, which means the United States government recognizes and backs the coin.
Which American Eagle Silver Coin variant should you buy?
Unlike the American Eagle gold coin, the silver version doesn’t come in different sizes or weights. It comes in just the one troy-ounce version. It’s, therefore, a no-brainer.
American Silver Eagle coin vs. Canadian Maple Leaf silver coin: What’s the difference?
The American Silver Eagle and the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf are arguably the two most popular silver bullion. The Maple Leaf is unmistakably Canadian. The coin’s front bears the image of the Queen, and the reverse has the maple leaf, Canada’s symbol, engraved. The Maple Leaf is 99.99 percent pure or 0.09 purer than the American Eagle coin. The Canadian currency bears a face value of CAD 5 compared to the Eagle’s $1 denominated value. Also, the Maple Leaf coin is more compact (37.97 mm) but thicker (3.29 mm) than the Silver Eagle.
American Silver Eagle coin vs. Britannia silver coin: What’s the difference?
The Britannia silver coin is a British coin. Although not as popular as the American Eagle, it’s still well-regarded and recognized in the bullion investing space. Lady Britannia is at the forefront of the Britannia coin’s design, the personification of the United Kingdom. It is the UK’s equivalent of the Walking Liberty. Although the Britannia silver coin is 99.9 percent silver, it was not so before 2013. The coins minted between 1997 and 2012 were 95.8 percent silver; the remaining 4.2 percent was copper.
How can you tell a fake American Silver Eagle coin?
The first thing to do to determine if your American Silver Eagle is real is to check its weight and dimensions. If the coin does not measure up correctly, it’s counterfeit. Also, check the coin’s edge. It should be reeded, and the 13 stars (if the coin has them) must be slightly raised from the rest of the coin’s surface. And then perform the standard magnet and sound tests. Also, visually inspect the coin. Cross-check it with the real one or at least a high-quality image of one.
If the coin is dated decades ago and still looks pristine and shiny, it could have been very well-preserved or fake. The latter is likely since silver or precious metal coins lose their trademark luster over time. The imagery could have also flattened. But then, the coin’s physical state is only one of the several indicators of authenticity.
Do note that the coin could have a few minting errors, which shouldn’t be construed as a sign of a counterfeit coin. Although the Silver Eagle has been made to the highest quality, the U.S. Mint has made a few genuine minting mistakes, such as planchet errors, in the past. Verify the same with an expert before concluding things.