The History of The American Silver Eagle
One of America’s Most Treasured Silver Coins
The Silver American Eagle is a very successful silver coin, and is one of the most prolific pieces of bullion produced by the United States Mint. These beautiful silver coins are a highly valued and commonly collected item today, but their reputation and significance is about a lot more than just sales. American Silver Eagles are a commonly sought-after asset for many collectors and investors, and understanding their history is an important factor in the appreciation of these beautiful silver coins. When you have come recognize the significance of the American Silver Eagle’s design, you will see that its value is about much more than the silver it’s created with.
The American Silver Eagle has a rich history beginning with its original design by Adolph A. Weinman, who worked with the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the creator of the original American Gold Eagle design.
Like the American Gold Eagle, this silver coin was officially introduced in 1986, however this was not the first time its design was used. The design is Weinman’s Walking Liberty, which was widely used from 1916 to 1947 because it so accurately represented the style of character of American ideals and patriotism. The Walking Liberty design displays Lady Liberty in full stride, enveloped in the American flag. Her right arm is extended, and in her left hand she holds branches of laurel and oak.
During the early 1900’s, President Theodore Roosevelt has striving to make beauty a key factor of American coinage. This was a time of experimentation, many designs being tried but only precious few being officially minted. The Walking Liberty design was by far the most successful of designs to be put forward to the public.
It was in 1916 that the Commission of Fine Arts chose the Walking Liberty Design to replace the Barber designs that were at that time in place on the half dollars and dimes. During this time, Weinman was competing against two other artists. Weinman ultimately came out on top due to the quality and originality of his design. Although Weinman’s design was a challenging one to strike, it quickly proved to be widely used and highly valued on the Half Dollar.
Weinman was a medalist and was never officially considered a coin designer. Without the right numismatic experience, many people will not know the difference between a medalist and a coin designer, although the two fields are separate. However, because of Weinman’s incredible talents, he has become a figure of great respect in both fields.
Like the American Gold Eagle, Weinman’s design was used again in 1986. His design was put into use after the introduction of the Liberty Coin Act by Senator McClure. The purpose of this act was to reduce the national stockpile of silver. The first official minting of the American Silver Eagle was in San Francisco on October 29, 1986. The striking ceremony was presided over by Secretary of the Treasury James A. Baker III. Shortly after, a Chicago Sun-Times article read that as Baker “reached for the electronic button on press No. 105, he turned to the audience and said, ‘I don’t need a pick and shovel to start the San Francisco Silver Rush of 1986.’”
The original branch in San Francisco produced American Silver Eagles from 1986 to 1992, on which was printed an “S” mint mark. From 1993 to 2000, these silver coins were produced in Philadelphia and bear a “P” mint mark. Since 2001, these coins have been produced in West Point, and thus bear the “W” mint mark.
The American Silver Eagle gets its name from the coin’s reverse, which was designed by John M. Mercanti. This design features an eagle which is perched behind a shield. It carries an olive branch in its right talon, and sharp arrows in its left. Above the eagle are thirteen, five-pointed stars which represent the original thirteen American colonies.
The design of the American Silver Eagle is mostly consistent, with some variations designed to appeal to different investors and collectors. Two of these variations include:
- Proof: These silver coins are made with a very shiny finish which is due to a unique minting process in which special dyes are used for pressing the coin.
- Brilliant Uncirculated: These silver coins do not bear any mint marks, which often appeals to investors. The Brilliant Uncirculated coins have a frosted satin finish, and because they are sold as they are received from the mint, they have never before been circulated among the public.
The American Silver Eagles are highly valuable and collectible pieces of bullion for many different reasons, including:
- Their high quality production standards.
- Their silver being sourced directly from American mines.
- Their relatively limited quantity.
- The patriotic emblems that have graced them since the Reagan years.
- They are backed by the United States government.
- They often receive higher buying prices than any other example of silver bullion.
- They are highly liquid, meaning they are easy to buy and sell.
Because of their rich history and value, First Fidelity Reserve is proud to offer American Silver Eagles to our customers. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, we guarantee only the highest quality silver coins to our investors and collectors. Your silver bullion will arrive in a secure and discreet package, guaranteeing a quality product that arrives on time.
If you want to invest in this highly valued and stable form of currency, contact First Fidelity Reserve toll-free today!