American Silver Eagle Coins

silver coin icon USA flag icon Silver Eagles - "Walking Liberty" design going back to 1916

Production of the American Silver Eagles started in 1986. When you buy silver in the form of Silver Eagle coins, you might be surprised to find that the silver version of the American Eagle coins bears different designs on both sides than the American Gold Eagles. Their obverse side uses Adolph A. Weinman's "Walking Liberty" design that first appeared on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar between 1916 and 1947. Another difference is that the Silver Eagles are much larger (40.6 mm diameter) and a little thicker (2.98 mm thickness) than the gold coins.

American Silver Eagle coins are minted from 99.9% fine silver. Only 1 oz silver coins (face value US $ 1) are issued whereas American Gold Eagles are issued in four different denominations. The US Mint produces the coins with brilliant uncirculated, proof (no proof coins in 2009) and burnished uncirculated (2006 - 2008 and since 2011) finishes. American buyers that are investing in silver for their retirement can include the coins in their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's).

obverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Silver Eagles
reverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Silver Eagle coins

Coin Specifications

Weight Face Value Purity Diameter x Thickness
1 oz US $ 1 99.9% 40.60 x 2.98 mm

Silver Eagle Coin Design

The design of the obverse side goes back to Adolph A. Weinman's design of the Walking Liberty Half Dollar coin (minted between 1916 and 1947). It depicts Lady Liberty in stride towards the rising sun. She carries branches of laurel and oak in one arm and stretches out the other. The year of minting and the words "Liberty" and "In God We Trust" are engraved on the obverse as well.

John Mercanti's design of the reverse side depicts an eagle with an olive branch in its right and arrows in its left talon behind a shield. The thirteen stars above the eagle represent the thirteen original colonies. The reverse also has the words "United States of America", "E Pluribus Unum", "1 oz. Fine Silver" and "One Dollar" inscribed. Proof and burnished uncirculated coins also bear a mintmark (W - West Point, P - Philadelphia, S - San Francisco) but brilliant uncirculated Silver American Eagles are not mintmarked.

The fact that the design of the American Silver Eagle coin is totally different from the design of the Gold Eagle coin is highly unusual.

History of the Silver American Eagles

The Liberty Coin Act that authorized the American Silver Eagle bullion program was signed by the then President Ronald Reagan on July 9th 1985. It mainly stipulated that a 1 oz silver coin out of 99.9% pure silver and with the status of legal tender shall be issued after September 1st 1986. Other specifications regarding the coin size and design were also included in the law. The silver was originally purchased from the silver stockpile of the American government. Since 2002, it can also be purchased on the open market once the silver stockpile has been depleted.

The United States Mint started with the minting of the American Eagle silver coins on October 29th 1986 with a striking ceremony in San Francisco. Both brilliant uncirculated as well as proof coins were at first minted by that branch mint. The first American Silver Eagles were issued on November 24th 1986. The minting of proof coins shifted to Philadelphia in 1993 and to West Point in 2001. Production of 'regular' brilliant uncirculated Silver American Eagle coins moved to Philadelphia (only for 1999 and 2000) and West Point in 1999. The San Francisco Mint occasionally assists West Point with supplementary production since 2011. Burnished uncirculated Silver Eagles were also just minted at West Point from 2006 to 2008 and again since 2011.

Mintage Numbers

Mintage of the brilliant uncirculated version of the Silver American Eagle coin has exploded since 2008 (perhaps partly initiated by that year's global financial crisis). Almost every year set a new mintage record since then with 47 million uncirculated Silver Eagle coins in 2015 as the current record. The lowest annual mintage of these popular silver bullion coins was set in 1996 with 3.6 million coins.

There is considerably less variation in the annual mintage numbers of the proof Silver Eagle. The mintage record for these proof coins was already set in 1986 (the 1st year of mintage) with 1,446,778 coins. If one disregards the year 2009 (when no proof coins were minted at all), then 372,168 coins in the year 1994 was the lowest annual mintage.

The burnished uncirculated version of the American Eagle silver coin was at first only minted from 2006 to 2008. It is minted again continuously since 2011. Annual mintage of these burnished coins has been declining since 2008 (with 221,981 coins in 2013 being the lowest mintage) from the highest mintage of 621,333 coins in 2007.

obverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Gold Eagles
reverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Gold Eagle coins

American Gold Eagles

The US Mint produces American Gold Eagles since 1986 with an obverse design that depicts Lady Liberty with flowing hair, holding a torch in her right hand and an olive branch in her left. This design is reminiscent of the historic Saint Gaudens Double Eagles. The 91.67% pure gold coins exist with brilliant uncirculated, proof and burnished (only between 2006 and 2008) finishes. Four denominations of 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz are available. Gold Eagles count among the most popular gold coins. By law, the gold that is used to mint American Gold Eagles must have been mined in the United States.

The American Gold Eagle page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.

obverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Platinum Eagles
reverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Platinum Eagle coins

American Platinum Eagles

The US Mint produces the American Platinum Eagles since 1997. The coins are minted out of 99.95% fine platinum in the sizes of 1 oz (US $ 100 face value), 1/2 oz (US $ 50), 1/4 oz (US $ 25) and 1/10 oz (US $ 10). Buyers can choose between brilliant uncirculated and proof coins with the latter bearing the mintmark W for the West Point branch of the US Mint. Lady Liberty is portrayed in close-up on the obverse side of the coins and an eagle in flight is shown on the reverse. However, proof coins display a different unique reverse design each year. Burnished uncirculated coins (also with the W mintmark) were minted between 2006 and 2008 and displayed the same reverse design as the proof coins in these years.

The American Platinum Eagle page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.

obverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Palladium Eagles
reverse side of the 2017 issue of the brilliant uncirculated 1 oz American Palladium Eagle coins

American Palladium Eagles

The American Palladium Eagles are the US Mint's latest addition to the American Eagle bullion coin series. The first 15,000 brilliant uncirculated coins were issued on the 25th of September 2017 and proof coins are scheduled to be first released in 2018. Burnished uncirculated coins may also be released at a later time. All American Palladium Eagle coins are minted out of 99.95% fine palladium in the single size of 1 oz (US $ 25 face value). A young Lady Liberty wearing a winged Phrygian cap is depicted on the obverse side of the coins. The reverse shows an eagle perched upon a rock and holding an olive branch in its beak. The high-relief design of both sides was originally created by Adolph A. Weinman, one of the most famous American coin designers.

The American Palladium Eagle page gives more information about the coins.

American Eagle Silver Coin Sets

1993 5-Coin Proof Gold & Silver Philadelphia Set

1993 Philadelphia Set

total gold weight: 0.85 oz

total silver weight: 1.7734 oz

This unique set contains 5 proof coins that were issued by the Philadelphia branch of the US Mint: the American Gold Eagles in the 1/10 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/2 oz denomination, the 1 oz American Silver Eagle and the U.S. Mint Philadelphia Bicentennial Medal.

1995 5-Coin Proof Gold & Silver 10th Anniversary Set

10th Anniversary Set 1995

total gold weight: 1.85 oz

total silver weight: 1 oz

The 10th Anniversary Set is composed of 5 proof coins by the West Point branch of the US Mint: the American Gold Eagles in all its 4 sizes (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz) plus the rare 1995-W 1 oz American Silver Eagle (only 30,125 coins minted with W mintmark).

1997 3-Coin Proof Gold & Silver Impressions of Liberty Set

1997 Impressions of Liberty Set

total gold weight: 1 oz

total silver weight: 1 oz

total platinum weight: 1 oz

The Impressions of Liberty Set contains the 3 proof American Eagles in gold, silver and platinum, all in the 1 oz denomination. The coins are mintmarked with the W for the West Point branch of the US Mint.

2006 2-Coin Gold & Silver 20th Anniversary Set

20th Anniversary Sets 2006

3 coin Gold Set:

1 oz uncirculated & proof & reverse proof Gold Eagle

2 coin Gold & Silver Set:

1 oz uncirculated Gold & Silver Eagle

3 coin Silver Set:

1 oz uncirculated & proof & reverse proof Silver Eagle
(248,875 such sets)

2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set

Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set

total silver weight: 1 oz

This 6-coin-set was issued in the years 2007, 2008 and from 2012 to 2016. It always contains one uncirculated 1 oz American Silver Eagle coin with the W mintmark for the West Point branch of the US Mint. The other five coins are commemorative coins (NOT out of precious metals) mostly dedicated to former US presidents.

25th Anniversary 5-Coin Silver American Eagle Set 2011

25th Anniversary Silver Eagle Set 2011

total silver weight: 5 oz

Five 1 oz American Silver Eagle coins from 2011 (all 99.9% pure silver) are included in this set. Besides the uncirculated Silver Eagle without mintmark, it includes an uncirculated coin with the S mintmark, a proof and a burnished coin with the W mintmark and finally a reverse proof Silver Eagle with the P mintmark. The coins are packaged in a box with a certificate of authenticity. A total of 99,882 sets were sold.

2012 8-Coin Limited Edition Silver Proof Set

Limited Edition Silver Proof Set

total silver weight: 2.34 oz

This set is issued annually since 2012 (except 2015 when it was canceled). Eight coins are included, most notably one 1 oz proof Silver Eagle (99.9% pure silver). Additionally included are five "America the Beautiful" quarters as well as a Kennedy half and a Roosevelt dime (all out of 90% silver). The coins are packaged in a presentation case with a certificate of authenticity. Mintage is limited to 50,000 sets per year of issue.

2012 75th Anniversary 2-Coin San Francisco Silver Eagle Set

San Francisco Silver Eagle Set 2012

total silver weight: 2 oz

This 2-coin set was issued to commemorate the San Francisco Mint's 75th anniversary in 2012. It contains a proof and a reverse proof Silver Eagle from that year, both with the S mintmark. The coins are packaged in a US Mint box with a certificate of authenticity. A total of 224,935 sets were issued.

2012 Making American History Coin and Currency Set

Making American History Set 2012

total silver weight: 1 oz

This unusual coin and currency set contains one 2012 proof Silver Eagle coin with the S mintmark alongside a special $5 bill whose serial number starts with "150" (to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing). The limited-edition set was issued in 2012 in celebration of the US Mint's 220th anniversary.

2013 United States Mint Congratulations Coin Set

Congratulations Coin Set since 2013

total silver weight: 1 oz

This collectible gift set was introduced in 2013. It contains one proof American Silver Eagle coin (with the W mintmark for the West Point Mint) complete with a certificate of authenticity. The 1 oz proof Silver Eagle is encapsulated within the US Mint's presentation folder. The coin in the 2016 Congratulations Coin Set commemorates the 30th anniversary of the American Eagle Program with special edge lettering.

2013 2-Coin American Silver Eagle West Point Set

West Point Silver Eagle Set 2013

total silver weight: 2 oz

This set was issued in 2013 in order to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the West Point branch of the US Mint. The two included coins are the reverse proof and enhanced uncirculated (coin has 3 finishes: heavy frost, light frost, brilliant polish) version of the 2013 Silver Eagle. Both coins bear the W mintmark and are only available in this set. A total of 235,689 such sets were issued in a US Mint display box with certificate of authenticity.