Affordable Investments: American Silver Eagles
Published on 10/20/2020 by APMEX
First released in 1986, the American Silver Eagle is the United States' official Silver bullion coin. The Silver Eagle only comes in one size, which is 1 oz of .999 fine Silver. It has a face value of $1 and is backed by the U.S. government. The Silver Eagle has been produced at three mints: the Philadelphia Mint, the San Francisco Mint and the West Point Mint. Silver Eagles are also IRA-eligible, as they meet the fineness requirements as defined by the IRS. In addition to the bullion version, the United States Mint has produced Proof versions and uncirculated versions for collectors.
Silver Eagle Design
The original Silver Eagle design features classic artwork by Adolph A. Weinman and John Mercanti. The obverse depicts the Walking Liberty design, originally used on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar from 1916 to 1947.
The original reverse portrays a heraldic eagle behind a shield; the eagle grasps an olive branch in its right talon and arrows in its left talon, echoing the Great Seal of the United States; above the eagle are thirteen five-pointed stars representing the thirteen colonies.
In 2020, the United States Mint unveiled the new reverse designs for the 2021 American Eagle Silver coins. 2021 marks the 35th Anniversary of the American Eagle Coin program, and the new designs will begin appearing on these coins in mid-year 2021. AIP Designer Emily Damstra created the new Silver design, which was sculpted by Mint Medallic Artist Michael Gaudioso.
The new design depicts a single eagle coming in for a landing, carrying an oak branch as if to add it to a nest.
- From 1986 to 1992, Proof Silver Eagles were struck at San Francisco and bear the "S" mint mark.
- From 1993 to 2000, they were minted at Philadelphia and bear the "P" mint mark.
- From 2001 to 2008, they were produced at West Point and bear the "W" mint mark.
- No Proof versions were minted in 2009.
- Beginning again in 2010, the Proof coins were minted again at West Point and bear the "W" mint mark.
Uncirculated Silver Eagles
From 2006 to 2008, and again in 2011, the U.S. Mint released a collectible uncirculated Silver Eagle produced at West Point bearing the "W" mint mark. The coins are struck on specially burnished blanks and occasionally are referred to as "W Uncirculated" or "Burnished Uncirculated."
Silver Eagle Varieties
The first major variety of the Silver Eagle series appeared in 2008 and is known as the "2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety." The U.S. Mint made slight alterations to the reverse design between 2007 and 2008. As a result, some 2008 uncirculated coins were unintentionally struck with the 2007 reverse type die, causing a die error. The variety is distinguishable by differences in the "U" in UNITED STATES and the dash between SILVER and ONE.
Emergency Silver Eagles
In March of 2020, the West Point Mint was shut down for sanitation after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The facility reopened in April, and bullion coin production was reduced to prevent employee exposure, before being shut down again later in April due to safety concerns.
To make up for the reduced and later suspended production of Silver bullion coins, the Philadelphia Mint struck 240,000 American Silver Eagles from April 8 through April 20. Although these coins were physically identical to the West Point coins, coin grading companies began certifying Philadelphia Mint Silver Eagles as "Emergency Issues," triggering a demand for the coins among coin collectors. Production at West Point continued on April 21.
Buying Silver Eagles
The U.S. Mint does not sell bullion coins directly to the public. Instead, they distribute their coins to a handful of authorized purchasers, like APMEX, who then sell the coins to the public. APMEX carries a large selection of American Silver Eagles for sale. Our selection includes BU and Proof variations, in addition to special occasion Silver Eagles and coin sets.