American Silver Eagles Facts, History, Images (1986-Present)
I can remember when the first Silver Eagle was issued by the U.S. Mint in 1986 and as a dealer we would buy them for $5-$6 and resell them for $7-$8. How times have changed! American Silver Eagles (SAE's) were the first silver bullion coin issued by the U.S. Mint and was instantly popular and continues to grow in popularity.
Despite their popularity they can be a confusing coin to collect since a total of three different mints have minted the coins, some don't have mint marks, and lately the different branch mints have issued them in the same year. In addition, there's been several different anniversary issues and different die finishes in the last several years. So it's important to learn the facts to complete an SAE collection.
Here I will go over the details of mint mark location, what years and issues have what mint mark and what was issued for each given year. Also, I will highlight some of the mintages and rarity factors to further help the collector in purchasing for their collections.
As I stated previously the series begin in 1986 and two issues were minted, a proof and bullion strike, the bullion strike was minted in Philadelphia without a mint mark The DCAM proof was struck in San Francisco and has an S and it's located on the reverse, left of the tail feathers. These issues and mint marks continued through 1992.
In, 1993 the proof SAE's, were minted in Philadelphia with a P mint mark and it's located on the reverse, left of the tail feathers. This continued until 2000 with two exceptions, the first SAE DCAM proof was minted at West Point Mint in 1995 with a W mint mark in the same location as the P and the S.
Also, in 1993, a special set called Philadelphia Set was issued to commemorate the bicentennial of the first official striking of a U.S. at the Philadelphia Mint. It included proof strikes of all the Gold Eagle issues for the year, a medal and a Silver Eagle, all with P mint marks.
The 1995-W was issued in a set with the American Gold Eagles with a low mintage of 30,125, and this begin a new age for popularity for the series. The 1995-W is the key date of the series and can bring in excess of $2,500+. It's the stopper for most people collecting a complete set.
The second lowest mintage proof for the 90's dates is the 1994-P with a mintage of only 372,168 and does bring a little better premium than most other proofs, and the 1995-P isn't far behind with a mintage of 438,511. Another important fact on the Silver Eagle's value is the MS70 and DCAM70, and that's were they become a true rarity and values jump dramatically. Especially the 2001 and before dated Silver Eagles.
In 2000, an SAE was issued in the Millennium Coin and Currency Set with a U.S. Dollar, Series 1999, and a 2000-D Sacagawea Golden Dollar. Since the coin is the same as the bullion issue only the SAE's still sealed in the Coin and Currency set are considered the Millennium Edition, as those designated by the top four grading services, NGC, PCGS, ANACS and ICG.
In 2006 was a banner year for Silver Eagles since it was celebrated as the 20th Anniversary of the series and a special anniversary set was issued. This set contained the first Reverse Proof and Burnished SAE's, plus a bullion strike. The set was popular and the 2006 Reverse Proof is the most valuable of the set with a total issue of 248,875, and that's the mintage for each coin included in the set. The grading services currently will only grade the 2006-W Reverse Proof as a 20th anniversary SAE, since there's not any difference between the bullion issues and the issues released in the anniversary set.
In 2007 and 2008 saw the issue of the Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set, with all four of the Presidential Dollars minted in Philadelphia, Denver mint Sacagawea Dollar and uncirculated Silver Eagle. It was the first years an uncirulated Silver Eagle was issued and have the P mint mark.
Another notable marker for 2008 is the 2008-W Silver Eagle with a 2007 Reverse, and is the first and only SAE variety to date. The coin has an estimated mintage of 47,000 making it the second most rare example of the series just behind the 1995-W proof. The value for the 2008-W Rev. 2007 has settled out at an average price of $600, after reaching near a $1,000 shortly after its' discovery.
From 2001-2010 all Silver Eagles, proof and business strikes, were minted at the West Point Mint and have the proof issues have the W mint mark. The exceptions are: No proofs struck in 2009 and for 2006, 2007 and 2008 there's two versions of the SAE referred to as uncirculated and the bullion issues. The uncirculated versions of the SAE have the W mint mark, but the bullion do not have a mint mark.
In 2011 heralded another special set release, the American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin Set, and this set included five coins, a proof and uncirculated West Point Mint coins, one uncirculated coin mited at San Francisco, one reverse proof minted at Philadelphia Mint, and a bullion coin.
In 2012 the mint issued a two coin set to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the San Francisco Mint and included the first Silver Eagle with the S mint mark since 1992.
Obverse design by Adolphe A. Weinman for the Half Dollars issued from 1916-1947. John Mercanti created the reverse design.