The American Silver Eagle Coin is the official American silver bullion coin and was first released by the U.S. Mint in 1986 after its release was authorized by the Liberty Coin Act of 1985. The coin only comes in 1 oz and has the nominal face value of $1 The American Silver Eagle is guaranteed to contain one troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver. The U.S. Mint certifies the content, weight, and purity of the coin. The Silver Eagle is produced at three different mints, the Philadelphia Mint, the San Francisco Mint, and the West Point Mint. Aside from the bullion version, the U.S. Mint also produces a proof version and an uncirculated version for coin collectors.
The obverse design of the coin was adapted from the very popular “Walking Liberty” design by Adolph. A. Weinman that had previously been used on the Walking Half Dollar coin from 1916 to 1947. The obverse side features the word LIBERTY and the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST, as well as the year of minting. The reverse side of the coin shows a heraldic eagle behind a shield (designed by John Mercanti) that is holding an olive branch in its right talon and arrows in its left talon. There are thirteen five-pointed stars (representing the thirteen original colonies) above the eagle. Furthermore, eagles is holding a banner in its beak with the phrases UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 1 OZ. FINE SILVER~ONE DOLLAR and E PLURIBUS UNUM. If applicable, the reverse side also features the mintmark.
There have been several special issues of the American Silver Eagle throughout the last two decades. The “Philadelphia Set” from 1993, for example, commemorates the bicentennial of the striking of the first official United States coins at the Philadelphia Mint in 1793. Another popular special edition is the “United States Millennium Coinage and Currency Set” form 200 included a 2000 Silver Eagle bullion, a 2000 Sacagawea Dollar with a burnished finish, and an uncirculated 1999 series one-dollar bill with a serial number beginning with the numbers “2000”. The most recent special issue was released in November 2012, the “2012 United States Mint Limited Edition Silver Proof Set” which contains a 2012 proof Silver Eagle coin, five proof 90% silver quarters from the American the Beautiful Quarters program, one 90% silver Kennedy half dollar and one 90% Roosevelt dime.
The legal value of $1 which reflects the Silver Eagle’s issue and monetization as coins. The coins are legal tender for all debts public and private at their face value. Yet, this face value does not correspond to their intrinsic value which is greater and is determined through their silver content and current price for silver. Most bullion issues are not especially expensive and are traded at a premium plus their intrinsic value; most proof and uncirculated versions are more expensive. Special editions sell for a lot more, of course, such as the 2006-W 20th Anniversary Set (uncirculated) for $1, 850.
The American Eagle Silver coins are also available as proof coins. This means that the coins have undergone a distinctive minting process: burnished coin blanks are manually fed into presses with special dies and then struck several times, which yields smoothly frosted, yet sharp images that look like they are floating over a mirror-like background. The American Eagle Silver Proof Coin is only available in the 1oz size. It is produced for collectors at the U.S. Mint at West Point and bear the “W” mintmark.
Due to skyrocketing demand for bullion coins against inflation and economic downturn after the global recession in 2008, the sale of American Silver Eagle bullion coins to authorized dealers was temporarily suspended. Proof and uncirculated versions were also temporarily suspended in 2009. In December 2010, the “Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010,” which would give the Secretary of the Treasury authority to mint coins in “qualities and quantities” sufficient to meet public demand, was signed into law. The Silver Eagle is also a silver coin allowed in a silver IRA account.