American silver eagles are some of the most recognized and desirable pure silver coins available in the market today, but before you sell silver eagles, there are some things that you should know, as not all silver eagles are created alike. In fact, there are three varieties of American silver eagles and some dates that are worth a premium above and beyond the silver value of the coins. We’ll discuss each of the three varieties of silver eagles and will share some of the history and specifications of the coins.
We’ll first begin with the history of the coins. Title II of Public Law 99-61, which was known as the Liberty Coin Act, was approved by Congress on July 9, 1985. The act authorized the issuance of American gold and silver eagles, which were first produced in 1986, and have been issued in consecutive years since that time. The coins contain exactly 1 troy ounce of .999 fine silver and have a face value of $1, which means that they’re considered U.S. legal tender. Furthermore, they’re guaranteed by the U.S. government to contain the specified purity and weight of the coins.
Beginning in the first year of issuance, the U.S. Mint also issued a proof version of the American silver eagle. While standard uncirculated versions of the coin are considered bullion coins, which means that the coins are valued based on their silver content, proof American silver eagles are considered to be numismatic coins. Numismatic means that they’re bought and sold not only for their silver content, but also for the collectible value of the coins. The lowest mintage bullion silver eagle was minted in 1996, while the lowest minted proof silver eagle was minted in 1995.
The 1995-W silver eagle proof only had a mintage of approximately 30,000 coins, and has a value that exceeds $2,000. Other lower mintage proof silver eagles are the 2006-P reverse proof silver eagle, with a mintage of 248,000, and the 1994-P proof silver eagle with a mintage of 372,000. The letter that follows the date signifies where the coin was minted. Silver eagles have been issued at three mints, including the Pennsylvania Mint (P), the San Francisco Mint (S) and the West Point Mint (W).
In addition to the varieties noted above, another variety of the silver eagle was minted from 1996 – 1998. These variety coins are referred to as “burnished” coins, which means that a specially prepared dye was prepared, giving them a mirror-like finish. Because the process of creating a burnished coin is more time intensive and the mintage runs of these coins are lower than standard American silver eagle bullion coins, they are bought and sold at slightly higher prices than bullion silver eagles.
The three varieties of American silver eagles noted above are packaged and shipped from the mint in three ways. Standard silver eagle bullion coins are packaged in U.S. Mint coin tubes, which hold 20 coins each. Oftentimes, the coins are purchased in what is referred to as “monster boxes,” which contain 25 rolls of 20 coins each. The monster boxes that come directly from the U.S. Mint are sealed. If sealed, they typically carry a slightly higher premium than boxes that aren’t sealed. The burnished and proof coins are packaged in their individual boxes with a certificate of authenticity. The packaging of the proof silver eagles is more elaborate, as they contain velvet protective cases in which the coins are kept.
If you’re in the market to sell silver eagles, the above information should help you to receive more value for your coins. As a reminder, proof silver eagles are the most valuable of the three varieties of silver eagles. The 1995-W and 2006-P reverse proof contain the highest premiums. Burnished silver eagles are bought and sold for less than proof silver eagles, but more than bullion silver eagles. Out of the three years minted, the 2006-W burnished silver eagle is the most valuable. Last but not least, most standard bullion silver eagles are bought and sold primarily for their silver content; however, the 1996 American silver eagle, which had a mintage of 3.6 million, carries with it a higher premium than the other bullion coins.