The Ultimate Guide to American Silver Eagle Coins

Clint Siegner Clint Siegner

Clint Siegner

March 21st, 2018 Comments

Did you know that the US only has one official investment-grade silver coin? The US Mint introduced American Silver Eagle bullion coins, minted with .999 fine silver, in 1986. Today they are the most popular Silver Bullion coin in the world. Investors bought 40 - 50 million of them in recent years.

Silver content

The silver content of each coin is one troy ounce with a purity of 99.9%. The weight and purity are guaranteed by the US government.

Main Types of American Silver Eagles

Silver Eagles

Silver American Eagles come in bullion and proof forms. Bullion strike coins are produced in much larger quantities and are more suitable for investment, while proof coins are coveted by collectors. What is the difference?

Bullion Silver Eagles

Bullion American Eagle coins don't come with mint marks. They are struck once in the minting press and do not carry the mirror finish of the proof variety. Investors prefer them for the considerably lower cost of purchase.

Proof Silver Eagles

Proof American Eagle coins are produced in limited quantities and are much more valuable because they must be struck twice (or more) and require specially made and polished dies. They carry a mint mark designating where the coins were made. The mirror finish and visibility of fine detail make them easy to identify.

There are three kinds of mint marks you could find on an American Silver Eagle Proof coin, depending on the year the coin was made. Each mint mark is a small letter printed on the reverse.

The possible options are:

  • S, denoting that the coin was made in San Francisco from 1986 to 1992
  • P for Philadelphia, where the minting took place between 1993 and 2000
  • W for West Point, New York; These coins were made between 2001 and the present day

Buy Silver Eagles Online

2023 Silver American Eagle
2023 Silver American Eagle
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Silver American Eagle - RANDOM Year
Silver American Eagle - RANDOM Year
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Silver American Eagle - Cull (Tarnished)
Silver American Eagle - Cull (Tarnished)
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Anniversary coins

Rare anniversary coins are one of the most important traditions of the US Mint. They are loved by serious collectors and amateurs alike.

The US Mint celebrated the tenth production anniversary of these coins in 1996. Commemorative coins were minted for the occasion. Some were silver-proof coins with a P mint mark. Others included the American Eagle Gold proof coins with weights ranging from 0.1 oz to 1 oz.

The 20-year anniversary was held in 2006. Proof coins with a W mint mark were produced for the occasion. The US Mint issued "reverse proof" silver Eagles for the first time. These handsome coins feature a frosted "field" or background, with the walking lady liberty polished in the foreground.

Collectors could also go for the 25th Anniversary Set from 2011. There were only 100,000 sets sold for the occasions. Each of them came with five beautiful coins. Now 30th-anniversary coins are available too.

Silver American Eagle - In Congratulations Capsule
Silver American Eagle - In Congratulations Capsule
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Silver American Eagle - In Happy Birthday Capsule
Silver American Eagle - In Happy Birthday Capsule
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Silver American Eagle - In Merry Christmas Capsule
Silver American Eagle - In Merry Christmas Capsule
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History of the Silver American Coin

silver eagle stack

The gold and silver American Eagle coin program had its roots in the honest money movement. When Franklin Roosevelt's executive order declaring private ownership of gold and silver bullion as unlawful was finally rescinded in 1971, conservatives began pushing for the US Mint to reintroduce precious metal coins suitable for investment.

The effort took years but eventually found success. The first American Eagles were issued in both gold and silver in 1986. The US Mint produced 5.3 million silver Eagles in the first year. Production ranged between 5 - 7 million per year for most of the first decade. These US mint coins for sale, have become the most popular coin in the world. 

The turn of the century brought a change in the production of American Silver Eagle coins. The quantity produced began moving consistently upward. Demand spiked following the 2008 financial crisis and peaked with the Mint issuing 47,000,000 coins in 2015.

The US may have abandoned gold and silver backing for the dollar, but at least investors can use the deep and liquid market for US bullion coins to protect themselves from the dollar's perpetual decline.

Silver Eagle Mintage





1986 5,393,005 1,446,778  
1987 11,442,335 904,732  
1988 5,004,646 557,370  
1989 5,203,327 617,694  
1990 5,840,110 695,510  
1991 7,191,066 511,924  
1992 5,540,068 498,543  
1993 6,763,762 405,913*  
1994 4,227,319 372,168  
1995 4,672,051 407,822  
1995-W   30,125*  
1996 3,603,386 498,293  
1997 4,295,004 440,315*  
1998 4,847,549 450,728  
1999 7,408,640 549,330  
2000 9,239,132 600,743  
2001 9,001,711 746,398  
2002 10,539,026 647,342  
2003 8,495,008 747,831  
2004 8,882,754 801,602  
2005 8,891,025 816,663  
2006 10,676,522 1,092,477* 466,573*
2006-P Rev Pr   248,875*  
2007 9,028,036 821,759 621,333*
2008 20,583,000 700,979 533,757*
2009 30,459,000 0* 0*
2010 34,764,500 849,861 0*
2011 40,020,000 947,355* 409,766*
2011-S     99,882*
2011-P Rev Pr   99,882*  
2012 33,742,500 877,731* 226,120*
2012-S   281,792*  
2012-S Rev Pr   224,935*  
2013 42,675,000 934,331 221,981
2013-W   235,689  
2013- W Rev Pr   235,689  
2014 44,006,000 99,757 253,169
2015 47,000,000 707,518* 223,879*
2016 37,701,500    
2017 18,065,500    
2016 Silver Eagles
2016 Silver Eagles
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2017 Silver Eagles
2017 Silver Eagles
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2018 Silver Eagles
2018 Silver Eagles
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American Silver Eagles from Money Metals Exchange

Design Specifications

Each silver American Eagle contains exactly one troy ounce silver .999. The diameter of the coin is 1.598 inches and the edge is reeded.

  • silver eagle coin obverse

    The Walking Liberty is shown on the obverse

    The image was designed by Adolph A. Weinman, a 19th Century sculptor and engraver. The Walking Liberty is a depiction of Lady Liberty holding the flag, as well as branches of laurel and oak. It is a powerful image with heavy symbolic meaning.

    There is also text engraved on the obverse. The coin reads "Liberty" and "In God We Trust" along with the date of production.

  • silver eagle coin reverse

    The reverse depicts the American Silver Eagle

    The image on the reverse side of this coin was designed by John Mercanti. It is a dynamic and striking image of our national eagle carrying olive branches and arrows. There are thirteen stars engraved along the edges of the coin, symbolizing the original thirteen states.

    The text on the reverse includes "One Dollar," "United States of America," "E Pluribus Unum" and "1 oz Fine Silver."


The Present and Future of American Silver Eagle Coins

Today, these coins are important to investors and collectors alike. Collectors may purchase proof coins directly through the US Mint. Bullion strike coins and proof coins with prior dates are sold by dealers exclusively.

Precious metals dealers throughout the US and around the world will carry the American Eagles. Large, national dealers, such as Money Metals Exchange will publish both buy and sell prices for the coins live. The coins can be purchased or sold in virtually any quantity with ease.

American Silver Eagle coins are a great choice for any investor, regardless of whether you are an absolute beginner or a seasoned expert. These coins are recognized and sought after all around the world. That means they are liquid and will command higher prices when it is time for resale.

Silver is extraordinarily useful as an industrial metal with applications ranging from medical equipment to technology and solar power. Demand is set to rise, while new, high-grade ore deposits are increasingly difficult to find.

And, unlike silver, the US dollar's future looks grim. Debt and deficits continue to rise as the Federal government remains completely unable to exercise spending restraint.

Whether it is demand from industry or demand from investors worried about the fate of the dollar, silver Eagles will be increasingly sought after in the years ahead.

Final word

You don't have to be an experienced collector or seasoned metals investor to appreciate the value of silver coins like the American Silver Eagle. The design is widely considered to be among the most beautiful in the world. No other bullion coin is as popular or widely traded.

These coins are a wise purchase - whether as a beautiful gift or as an addition to your holding of tangible assets.

Clint Siegner

About the Author:

Clint Siegner is a Director at Money Metals Exchange, a precious metals dealer recently named "Best in the USA" by an independent global ratings group. A graduate of Linfield College in Oregon, Siegner puts his experience in business management along with his passion for personal liberty, limited government, and honest money into the development of Money Metals' brand and reach. This includes writing extensively on the bullion markets and their intersection with policy and world affairs.