Everything You Need To Know About The American Silver Eagle

What makes the American Silver Eagle dollar so unique?

The American Silver Eagle dollar is a coin designed specifically for investment.

While it is relatively new, it has become popular among collectors because of the way it increases in value over time. Within the United States, the American Silver Eagle can be used to fund an IRA for retirement savings.

It has also become a very popular investment outside of the U.S., especially in Asian markets, and is the best selling silver bullion coin in the world. Let’s take a look at the history of the American Silver Eagle and why it’s become such a popular investment. 


Characteristics of the American Silver Eagle

The American Silver Eagle has an iconic design that is sought after by collectors around the world. The design on the front of the coin had originally been used on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar, which the United States minted from 1916 to 1947. This design was incredibly popular, so the Mint revived it for the American Silver Eagle when they originally released it in 1986. 


The front of the coin features an image of Lady Liberty walking towards the sun. Behind her are the worlds “LIBERTY” and “In God We Trust”. Below her feet, you’ll find the year the coin was minted. This image is by Adolph Weinman, a German-American sculptor. This design has been incredibly popular since it was originally commissioned, as it has a unique beauty that isn’t often seen in modern U.S. coins. 


The back of the coin was designed by John Mercanti, who was the Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint. It features an eagle with a shield and the text “E Pluribus Unum” on a banner in front of the eagle’s wings. The eagle also holds arrows and an olive branch in its talons. Above the eagle is the text “United States of America” as well as thirteen stars. Below the eagle is a small mint mark as well as the text “1 OZ Fine Silver - One Dollar”. 


The U.S. Mint has stated that they will be redesigning the American Silver Eagle sometime in 2021. This is so they can add anti-counterfeiting measures. However, the new design is sure to be coveted by coin collectors. We haven’t seen any images of potential new designs yet, but initial design committees have recommended that an eagle still be featured prominently. 


History of the American Silver Eagle

The American Silver Eagle was first minted in 1986. Prior to the 1980s, the government had a large stockpile of silver. They first discussed minting bullion coins to sell off the stockpile in the 1970s, but the legislation didn’t pass until 1985.

Over the years, production of the American Silver Eagle dollar eventually depleted the national stockpile. In 2002, Congress voted to authorize the Treasury to purchase silver in order to continue making these bullion coins, which had become very popular among investors. 


These bullion coins were originally minted at the San Francisco Mint, and then subsequently moved to the Philadelphia Mint in 1993 and later to the West Point Mint in 2001, where they are still minted today. The San Francisco Mint also started producing the American Silver Eagle again in 2011. Having both facilities produce the coin means that output has remained steady over the years. 


The 2008 global recession had a dramatic effect on the availability of the American Silver Eagle dollar. Many investors decided to purchase the bullion form of this coin instead of investing in the stock market or other investments that were very volatile at the time. Because of this, the Treasury had to ration the bullion version of the coin, and temporarily stopped producing the popular collectible versions in 2009.

The government developed an allocation program to continue rationing the coin, and eventually passed legislation that gave the Treasury the means to produce more American Silver Eagle coins to meet demand. However, the Treasury had to use the allocation program again from 2013 to 2015 as demand shot back up. 


Production of the American Silver Eagle dollar temporarily shut down in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, production quickly resumed a few weeks later. The Philadelphia Mint struck American Silver Eagle dollars during this time to make up for the temporary shutdown of the West Point Mint. 


Types of American Silver Eagle Coins

There are a few subcategories of the American Silver Eagle dollar that the Treasury produces. The two main types are Brilliant Uncirculated and Proof. Brilliant Uncirculated coins are sometimes referred to as bullion coins and are designed specifically for investment.

They do not have any mint marks and have a frosted satin finish. They are not put into circulation, but instead are stored safely for investing where they can gain value more quickly. 


Additionally, the Mint produces proof coins specifically for collectors. These coins have the same design, but they do bear a mint mark, which can affect its overall value. They are minted with special dies that give the coin a shiny finish. 


Over the years, the Mint has released several collectors’ edition versions of the American Silver Eagle, as well as rare finishes. Some of the most valuable rare finishes include the reverse proof, burnished finish, and enhanced finish. Minting errors also happen occasionally with these coins, but high levels of quality control make them very rare. 


Pricing American Silver Eagle Coins

American Silver Eagle coins tend to go up in value as they get older, which is why they are such a popular long-term investment. There are a number of different factors that affect each individual coin’s pricing. In general, the rarer a coin is, the more it is going to be worth. With American Silver Eagle coins, the proof versions are rarer and are almost always worth more money than the bullion versions.

The worth of the coin is often dependent on the mint mark. For example, 1995-W American Silver Eagles are very valuable, because only a few of these coins were produced at the West Point mint that year. 


Burnished, enhanced, and reverse proof finishes are also going to be much more valuable than the standard bullion or proof finishes in most cases. Many of these rare finishes were produced relatively recently, so they have the potential to continue to grow in value as the years go by. 


When compared with other silver bullion coins produced around the world, the American Silver Eagle is considered one of the most valuable. There are a few key reasons for this. The first is that these coins are produced in relatively limited quantities when compared to other coins made by the US Mint.


The other reason why these coins have become so highly sought after is their production standards. All of the silver used to make American Silver Eagle coins is sourced directly from American silver mines. The mint itself has extremely high production standards, which result in very detailed coins without many errors. The US Treasury also sells these coins directly in their uncirculated state, so they are very easy to keep in good condition as they get older. 


How To Invest In The American Silver Eagle

American Silver Eagle coins make an excellent long-term investment. They are designed specifically to appreciate and gain value as they get older. They are also a very safe investment when compared with other securities, such as stocks and mutual funds. These coins have an intrinsic physical value, which means they cannot fully depreciate over time. They also won’t fluctuate in price the same way that the stock market does. 


The easiest way to buy American Silver Eagle coins is through an approved distributor. There are many reputable distributors that allow you to buy these coins directly online. If you have a local coin dealer that you work with, you may also be able to buy these coins directly through them.

Generally, investing in the bullion version of the American Silver Eagle is the most accessible option for beginners. However, if you are an experienced coin collector, you may appreciate the rarer proof versions of this coin. 


You can also opt to add the American Silver Eagle to your retirement savings through an IRA account. If you decide to do this, you’ll need to store your coins in an approved depository - you won’t be able to keep them at home. Even if you aren’t putting your coins into an IRA, you should always have a safe place to store them. 


Final Thoughts

The American Silver Eagle dollar has become an incredibly popular investment and collector’s item around the world. With such high quality detailing and production standards, it’s easy to see why many coin investors have gravitated toward this coin. This coin is a great addition to any collection and makes a very stable long-term investment.

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