The United States quit producing silver dollars back in 1935. But in 1986, the U.S. Mint introduced American Silver Eagle coins, which are the only official silver bullion coins produced by the United States. They are minted in West Point, New York, and bear the “W” mint mark.
You’ve probably heard of silver bullion but may not be exactly sure what it means. In a nutshell, bullion is valued for its mass and purity rather than for its face value as a coin. Silver bullion coins are never intended to be used as currency. And their face value is significantly less than the value of the silver they contain.
Both bullion and proof finishes of American Silver Eagles are produced. But since 2009, demand for the American Eagle silver bullion coins has been so great that all the available silver blanks have been used to produce silver bullion coins.
Because the cost of bullion coins is keyed to the market silver price — also called the spot silver price, they are available from authorized bullion and coin dealers. When they are available, proof versions of the coin are sold by the U.S. Mint. until the next year’s Silver Eagles are issued or until they are sold out.
Each bullion Silver Eagle is 99.9% silver and weighs 31.103 grams. The U.S. government guarantees their weight, composition, and purity. Interestingly, they are the only silver coins that can be used to fund an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
The obverse features Adolphe A. Weinman’s Walking Liberty, which was first used on the 1916 half dollar. She strides confidently wrapped in Old Glory with branches of laurel and olive in her left hand.
The reverse, which was designed by John Mercanti, show an eagle with arrows in his left talons, and an olive branch is his right.
In 2006, the U.S. Mint introduced a platinum American Eagle.
To make the proof coins, specially burnished silver coin blanks are manually fed into a coin press that’s fitted with special dies. The coins are struck several times, resulting in a frosted image that seems to float above the highly polished background.
Inspectors wearing white gloves check the coins and then place them in a protective plastic case. The coins are sold with a Certificate of Authenticity.
Like all silver bullion coins, American Eagles are popular with investors because they are an affordable way to add precious metals to your portfolio. They are the only investment-grade U.S. silver coins. And today, they are also the world’s most best-selling silver coins, with more than 130 million sold.
Investors are attracted to precious metals because as a rule, they move independently of stocks and bonds. They are portable, extremely liquid — most coin dealer will be cash for them — and easy to store and care for.
Although the coins are mostly of value due to the silver they contain, three Silver American Eagles are more valuable because fewer were produced. The 1995-W Proof Silver Eagle was part of the Gold Eagle Proof Set with a mintage of just 30,125. The 2006-W Reverse Proof was part of a mintage of 250,000 sets. And the 2008-W Silver Eagle was struck with the 2007 reverse die.
If you’re interested in collecting silver dollars, consider investing in some silver bullion American Eagle coins. You can get started for a modest price, and the coins are beautiful.