American Silver Eagles – featuring the nation's most beautiful silver coin design
– First introduced in 1986, the American Silver Eagle is loved by collectors – both for its stunning design and its nearly pure silver content. This program was authorized under the Liberty Coin Act, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. Under the new law, the U.S. Mint was to begin striking $1 legal tender coins – each one in 1 oz. of 99.93% pure silver.
Introduced under President Reagan
America's silver coinage had contained 90% silver until 1965. After the international silver market skyrocketed, those coins became worth more for their precious metal content than their face value. To keep enough coins in circulation, the Coinage Act of 1965 was introduced. This reduced or eliminated silver from America's coins!
But the government recognized the continued demand for silver coins by collectors and investors. So, on July 9, 1985, the U.S. entered the international silver bullion market when President Ronald Reagan signed the Liberty Coin Act into law.
This Act specified both what was to be shown on the coin ("…a design (A) symbolic of Liberty on the obverse side; and (B) of an eagle on the reverse side…"), and the inscriptions that would be displayed. It also mandated the diameter, weight and silver content.
New series brings back a beloved design
For the obverse of this new coin – named the American Silver Eagle – the U.S. Mint turned to a beloved classic design. In 1916, a great renaissance in U.S. coinage history occurred. Silver coins received their most attractive and popular designs – including Adolph A. Weinman's Liberty Walking half dollar. The classical beauty of this coin represented the sprit and sentiment of the nation as it hoped to remain neutral during the unrest in Europe that was leading to the First World War.
On the obverse, the majestic figure of Liberty strides peacefully and confidently toward the rising sun in the East. Her right arm is outstretched in a gesture of hope and freedom. In her left arm, she carries oak and laurel branches – ancient symbols of civilian and military affairs. Liberty is cloaked in an American flag, which is unfurling behind her.
The reverse of the
American Silver Eagle
displayed an all-new design by mint engraver John Mercanti. He devised a heraldic eagle design with 13 stars above representing the original 13 colonies. The reverse also features a statement of weight and the denomination.
American Silver Eagles have been struck at three mints: Philadelphia, San Francisco and West Point. Each year, the mint issues traditional bullion coins. These pieces do not bear a mint mark, and are not available to the public directly from the U.S. Mint. Instead, these coins are made available through a network of authorized dealers.
Along with those bullion American Silver Eagles, each year the U.S. Mint issues Proof examples for sale to collectors. These coins bear the mark of their issuing mint. From the start of the series in 1986 until 1992, premium-quality Proof versions were struck at the San Francisco Mint, bearing the "S" mint mark. Proof American Silver Eagle production was moved to Philadelphia in 1993, and then to West Point in 2001.
In addition to key-date coins, special issues have also been released to mark certain anniversaries within the American Silver Eagle series. The first was the 1995-W Proof, struck for a 10th anniversary set. For the 20th anniversary, a variety of American Silver Eagles were produced in 2006. These included a Reverse Proof and a Burnished Uncirculated coin. Since then, Burnished and Enhanced Uncirculated American Silver Eagles have been released in a number of different years.Read More... Read Less...