The Silver Eagle is the official silver bullion coin of the United States. The U.S. Mint began making the silver eagle in 1986, and in addition to the bullion version, the mint has produced an uncirculated proof version for collectors. The 99.9% pure Silver Eagle has a face value of one dollar; however, its trading value is much higher. The front of the coin is inscribed with the iconic “Walking Liberty” design, while the back has the heraldic eagle behind a shield.
Silver eagles are graded to determine the quality, which is key to collectors in determining the coin’s value. Grading determines the rarity of the coin, the interest factor, and the liquidity factor, while certification provides reassurance to the investor or collector that the quality of the coin is authentic. Coins are graded based on appearance, which includes five main factors: strike, surface, preservation, luster, and eye appeal. The condition of a silver eagle can range from Good — in which only 10 percent of the design remains — to Mint State, which means the coin has 100 percent of the design remaining with its full luster. Coins are also graded on a numerical scale that ranges from 1 to 70, with 1 being barely recognizable as a coin and 70 being perfect condition.
While the face value of the American Silver Eagle is officially only one dollar, the intrinsic value is much greater and is determined by the silver content and the spot price. The rarity and condition of the coin also affect its value, and uncirculated coins are generally worth much more. Millions of American Silver Eagles coins are purchased each year by investors. Silver is often used as a hedge against inflation, deflation, and devaluation of printed currency.
The American Silver Eagle is popular with collectors for several reasons:
Often collectors assemble a complete series by obtaining one coin for every year of production and then adding a new coin with each additional minting. The Silver Eagle series makes a striking addition to any coin collection.
There are two major coin grading companies in the United States who certify Silver Eagle coins: Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC). These are often considered the leading companies in the industry.
PCGS is one of the most trusted coin grading services in the industry. They offer the “First Strike” program, Secure Plus and standard grading programs, high-quality coin photography, and special label programs. Their plastic holders are designed to be stackable and include anti-counterfeiting features such as a holographic emblem.
NGC is the world’s largest third-party coin grading service and is the official grading service of the Professional Numismatists Guild and the American Numismatists Association. NGC is the only major grading company that grades ancient coins. Like PCGS, NGC provides anti-counterfeiting and photography services. At NGC, coins are examined by at least two professional numismatists one at a time to ensure accurate grades.
Proof coins are those coins that have not been circulated and, therefore, have greater value than circulated bullion. They hold great appeal to collectors because they are generally encased in a case or folder that has preserved the appearance and quality of the coin. When graded by a trusted company such as PCGS or NGC, proof coins also carry with them a certificate of authentication that verifies their quality and value.