Silver Eagle Coins – Review

Welcome to Numismatic Traders! We are looking at the most popular silver bullion coin in the world in our: Silver Eagle Coins – Review

The success of the American Silver Eagle in the silver bullion market can be compared to the success achieved by the Krugerrand in the gold bullion market. Even though the Krugerrand’s story began in 1967, the Silver Eagle Coin was first minted in 1986 after the United States government authorized it on July 9, 1985. 

The Title II of Public Law 99-61, which was known as the Liberty Coin Act paved the way for the first one ounce .999 fine silver coin to be backed by the United States Government. 

The USA government aimed at reducing their national silver stockpiles with section 203 under the heading “PURCHASE OF SILVER”. 

Sec. 203 of the Act reads: 

“ The Secretary shall obtain the silver for the coins authorized under section 5112(e) of this title by purchase from stockpiles established under the Strategic and Critical Materials Stock Piling Act..”  

Silver Eagle Coins Specifications

1 oz Silver Eagle CoinSpecification
MintUnited States Mint
First year issued1986
Silver content1 Troy Ounce Silver
Silver Purity (fineness).999
Weight31.103 grams
Diameter40.6 mm
Thickness2.98 mm
Legal Tender$1 dollar backed by US Government
Observe DesignAdolph A. Weinman
Reverse DesignJohn M Mercanti
IRA accountEligible

Types of Silver Eagle Coins

A person who is considering buying Silver Eagle Coins has options to choose among 3 different types of Silver Eagles. The 3 types have relatively the same design (with a few minor deviations). 

The 3 types of Eagles have different appearances which come from 3 different manufacturing methods. Each of the 3 designs is designated for a specific market segment. An understanding of the 3 different types of Eagles will help you to determine which is the best to buy. 

1. Silver Eagle Bullion Coins

The coins are mass-produced and intended for investors in the silver metal market. The coins do not bear mint marks and are not sold directly by the US Mint to the general public. The coins are rather distributed through a network of wholesalers and dealers who are authorized to sell to the public.

Silver Eagle Bullion Coins produced by which mint in which year:

Mint Producing Silver Eagle Bullion CoinsMint MarkYear
Philadelphia MintP1986 – 2000
West Point Mint (New York)W1999 & 2000
West Point Mint Exclusively W2000 – current

2. Proof Silver Eagles Coins

silver eagle coins review by numismatic traders proof silver eagles

The term “proof” points to the way that the coins are produced resulting in the distinguished visible features of the coin. Proof production raises the precision of the coin’s design as the image and inscription on the face to appear sharper with a frosted foreground and mirror-like background.

The proof blanks are hand polished and cleaned before being fed into the presses fitted with special manufactured polished, high quality dies. The blanks are struck at least twice

Thereafter the coins are carefully packaged in protective capsules to display and conserve the beauty of the coin and to keep them intact. Proof coins are issued with an official Certificate of Authenticity

Proof Silver Eagle Coins production per year:

Mint Producing Proof Silver Eagle CoinsMint MarkYear
San Francisco MintS1986 – 1992
2011 – 2013
Philadelphia MintP2000
West Point Mint (New York) W2000 – to current
West Point Mint ‘s production supplemented by Philadelphia Mint

Silver Eagle Proof coins are specifically produced for the collectors’ market of the Silver Eagle coins. These coins trade at much higher premiums of even up to three times more than normal bullion coins. 

3. Uncirculated or Burnished Silver Eagle Coins

silver eagle coins review burnished silver eagle coins

Burnished coins are struck on coin blanks that have been specially prepared by the burnishing method of polishing and hardening the silver blanks’ surface

During the burnishing process, the silver is pressed and polished with one or more rotating steel rollers or balls. Instead of chipping away the surface, this technique uses the tendency of the metal to deform under stress. The end result is silver blanks with a smooth silver texture and shiny reflective finish with superior strength and load-bearing qualities

The silver blanks are hand-loaded into the coining press and struck with special manufactured high-quality dies. This process produces coins with a matte-like finish and a brilliant appearance

The coins are also carefully packaged in special casings and issued with an official Certificate of Authenticity.   

Burnished Silver Eagles are made for the Numismatic market segment. These coins are issued at a premium price well above the spot price of silver. 

Burnished Silver Eagles production and years issued:

Minted only the West Point Mint (W) from 2006. No burnished eagles have been produced in the 2009 & 2010 years. 

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Silver Eagle’s features and appearance

The Silver Eagle’s success in its relatively short lifespan cannot only be attributed to its pure silver content and high-quality production process. 

Arguably the biggest contributor to the coin’s success is the beautiful, artistic, portray of Lady Liberty walking to the rising sun featured on the obverse of the coin. It is a timeless, iconic design packed with symbolism that can resonate with a worldwide audience.  

The Obverse 

Silver Eagle Coins Review obverse design
1 oz Silver Eagle Obverse

The obverse design was first depicted on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar between 1916 and 1947. Adolph A Weinman was responsible for this design upon President Theodore Roosevelt’s instruction. 

The walking Lady Liberty occupies the space of the obverse. She is dressed in long robes with the American flag draped over her right shoulder. In her left arms, she carries branches of laurel and olive as a symbol of her approach in peace. Her right arm is stretched open as she steps forward towards the future. The rising sun over the mountains which she is approaching is clearly visible with its extended rays. The detail of this design is honestly mindblowing.

The word LIBERTY encapsulate the top half curve of the coin.  

Behind her right leg the words: IN GOD WE TRUST

The date issued is situated at the bottom of the coin below Lady Liberty’s feet. 

The Reverse

1 oz Silver Eagle Reverse

The name of the coin originates from the reverse design by United States Mint Sculptor/Engraver John Mercanti

The reverse depicts the eagle shield. In the eagle’s right talon is an olive branch and in his left talon six arrows. Above the eagle are thirteen five-pointed stars representing the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States of America. In the eagle’s beak is a ribbon draped to the right side of the eagle: E PLURIBUS and on the left side UNUM

Below the eagle’s left talon are the initials JM inscribed for the engraver John Mercanti. 

The phrase UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is inscribed on the top curve of the coin. 

Following the bottom curve of the coin the words: 1OZ. FINE SILVER~ONE DOLLAR

The Silver Eagle Bullion coins do not contain a mintmark as stated before. The mintmark on the proof and burnished Silver Eagle is just below the eagle’s right claw. 

Many people don’t realize it, but different coins from different Mints come with their own unique pros and cons. 

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The Pros of the Silver Eagle Coins 

1. Affordability

The Silver Eagle Bullion coins are issued at prices that are based on the spot price of silver plus a small premium to cover minting and distribution costs. Silver is still trading at relatively low prices which makes them an affordable option to start investing in silver or to start a coin collection. 

2. Credibility and stability

The Silver Eagle is the official silver bullion coin of the United States. The Silver Eagle is fully backed by the United States government making it one of the most trusted silver bullion coins

3. Beauty

The Silver Eagle’s beauty and design is a worldwide trademark that remained constant from its inception in 1986. 

4. World best selling silver coin

Over 130 million Silver Eagles have been sold since 1986. This bullion coin’s sales surpassed all expectations. In certain years the US Mint could not produce enough for the demand. This means that there is always an active market for Silver Eagles, making them very liquid assets. This fact gives any investor peace of mind that your coins will quickly turn into cash if needed.

5. Purity and quality  

The 1 ounce .999 pure fine silver coin meets the requirements of silver investors. The coins are manufactured by the US Mint which is known for its high-quality production standards

6. Legal tender 

The Silver Eagle is issued as a $1 legal tender coin backed by the United States government. The coin trades as much higher prices at premiums above the spot price of silver

7. IRA approved

Graded as an allowable Independent Retirement Account (IRA) instrument, the coin is granted the status symbol of an approved asset for retirement investment purposes. 

8. Innovation

The Silver Eagle was the world’s first government-sponsored silver bullion 1 oz coin. The coin’s history is based on innovation and trust. 

9. Three different types of Silver Eagle coins

Not only is the coin produced for investment purposes but with the proof and burnished designscollectors and numismatic demands are also met which creates an added bonus of variety.

The Cons of the Silver Eagle Coins

1. The fluctuating nature of silver

The Silver Eagle coins are priced at prices based on the spot rate of silver. The spot price of silver fluctuates rapidly which can be difficult to grasp for newcomers to the silver market. The fluctuations in the silver price are less predictable than other commodities.

There is a possibility that the value of coins can decline with changes in the silver market. 

2. Security features

As the value of silver increases, so do the actions of rogue counterfeiters also increase. Coins are by nature more difficult to counterfeit than bars due to their design features which increases the cost of counterfeiting. 

The Royal Canadian Mint and the British Royal Mint sets the standards against counterfeiting. The US Mint has been lagging behind with security features in the Silver Eagle coin. This will be addressed in 2021 when three new security features will be added to the coin. 

3. Risk of physical loss

There is the risk of physical loss and damage of silver through theft and other natural disasters. The buyer of silver must always be aware and take great measures against theft because silver is very valuable. 

Silver in its pure form of .999 is very soft and great care needs to be taken against the damage of coins. A damaged coin loses its value instantly. This is relevant when you pay a high premium above the silver price especially when buying proof or burnished coins. 

It is a safer option for Silver investors to store their silver in third-party vaults than to store silver at home. 

4. Silver takes up more space than gold

Silver takes up more space per dollar than gold and it can become quite heavy when transporting larger quantities of silver coins. 

A buyer of Siver Eagle coins must also consider how the coins will be stored after purchasing them.

5. Premium over the silver spot price

You must always be aware of how much premium you pay above the silver spot price for your Silver Eagle coins. Due to the production and handling costs, the premium for Silver Eagles can become high and expensive. Transportation and other costs also need to be considered when calculating the premium over the spot price of silver. 

Final thoughts

The Silver Eagle Coin and the American Gold Eagle Coin are the flagship products for silver bullion and gold bullion of the US Mint.  The Silver Eagle is the only silver bullion coin whose weight and purity are guaranteed by the United States Government. Silver Eagles are also the only silver coins allowed in an IRA. 

From this Silver Eagle Coins Review, it is certain that the Silver Eagle should be the Nr.1 Recommended coin due to its popularity which provides liquidity and trust throughout its history of over 30 years.  

It is not only an attractive coin for investors but with other appearances and finishes Silver Eagle coins, have found their way into the hearts and minds of Numismatics

Silver Eagle coins are affordable for start-up investors and collectors as well. 

In the year 2021, we will be blessed with a new Silver Eagle coin design. It will also be the first year that two designs will be issued in one year. Considering the expected fireworks that will be coming from silver as a hedge against inflation and a store of value we predict a great 2021 year and beyond for Silver Eagle coins.  

9 thoughts on “Silver Eagle Coins – Review”

  1. Wow just look at those proof silver eagle coins, I’ve loved looking at those I remember my grandpa having a whole drawer of it as he loved collecting. Proofs are like the pinnacle of the art of minting and having those would be an honor. If I’m not mistaken, it’s 99.9% silver right? Do you happen to know what the remaining is made of?

    • Hi Riaz 

      There is just something about Proof Silver Eagle coins that is mesmerizing and breathtaking. Clearly, the US Mint takes great care of these beauties before issuing them. What a beautiful memory of your grandfather. I can still remember the day I received my first gold coin gift from my father when I was 10 years old. 

      All the Silver Eagles including the proofs contain the same silver fineness of 99.9%. The production methods are different. 999 is known as “fine silver”. The impurities are negligible on such a fine silver coin. 

      The Royal Canadian Mint produces some of the finest Silver coins of 999.9 purity with the Silver Maple Leaf

  2. Hello!

    You have a very unique and amazing review there. The review has not just made me realize the most popular silver bullion coin in the world but had also enlightened my knowledge a great deal to so many things I never knew before now. A review like this is actually a must read. 

    Thanks for providing that well researched review.

  3. These coins are absolutely beautiful. Investment is always an uncertainty, I have yet to find one investment analyst that makes me go “Wow!” Usually the predictions I hear are 50/50.

    I understand that all investments come with a risk, that’s what I want to say. I will consider buying silver as diversifying my portfolio is something that is always at the forefront of my mind.

    • Hi Aaron
      Thank you for noticing the value that we try to add. Visit us again for more insight into the precious metal industry.

  4. I’m Kelly, by the way. Your blog is excellent. It is an in-depth guide for buying gold assets. I’ll find your essay helpful in the upcoming year of 2023. I have gold and silver coins but I needed more knowledge of good investing strategies when I purchased them. Apmex, JM Bullion, and Bullion Exchange are just a few online dealers. They gave a great deal of help. A few tiny coin dealers, such as BOLD Precious Metals, offered more affordable goods. I appreciate you creating this blog.


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