American Silver Eagle coins are the single most popular bullion coins in the world today. Introduced back in 1986, the government-backed guarantee on the coins’ purity and metal content make the American Silver Eagle one of the safest investments in the precious metals market. With rising silver prices and shaky markets, the American Silver Eagle powered its way to six record-breaking sales years dating back to 2008, including four consecutive years from 2008-2011.
Today, the American Silver Eagle remains a highly coveted product as both a bullion, proof, and burnished coin. Originally available in just the bullion and proof versions, the burnished coin was added in 2006 as the US Mint celebrated the 20th anniversary of the program. With so much going for it, there’s really only one way to add value to these popular coins: certification.
Here you’ll learn more information about PCGS Certified American Silver Eagles in our catalog, including background on the program as a whole, certification terminology, and a background on the Professional Coin Grading Service, as well.
The Professional Coin Grading Service was formed by a small group of the nation’s leading coin experts in 1985 following the realization that the rare coin industry needed to address problems in the verification of coins in order for the hobby of coin collecting and investing to truly reach new heights. Prior to the formation of the PCGS, market participants were forced to assess the value of rare coins using divergent definitions of what precisely qualified as valuable.
It was generally agreed upon that physical condition, or grade, of the coin was important to the value. However, there was not a universal system for grading or even a universal standard that could be applied. Prior to the 1980s, rare coin collectors had only three broad categories to place coins into based upon their condition. These included:
The problem that was created by this system of definitions is that collectors and dealers eventually realized that some Fine coins, for example, were finer than others. In 1948, renowned numismatist Dr. William Sheldon had developed a scale for assigning grades between 1 and 70 to coins. In theory, his Sheldon Scale posited that a grade 70 coin was worth 70 times the value of a grade 1.
In refining the Sheldon Scale and applying it to modern PCGS Certified American Silver Eagle coins, and others, the PCGS found that many buyers were often taken advantage of because of the difficulty in telling the difference between coins of the same category. For example, a Mint State 65 coin has a market value (in most cases) that is greater than the same coin with a Mint State 64 coin, but the differences are nearly undetectable by an untrained eye.
The PCGS use of the Sheldon Scale in assigning grades to PCGS Certified American Silver Eagles and other coins helps investors and collectors rest assured that the coins they are purchase meet the standards and grading requirements of a coin of that particular grade. The PCGS stands behind its certifications, offering the following guarantee on its website:
“The PCGS Guarantee of Grade and Authenticity is fundamental to our concept of third-party grading. The cash-back policy ensures the accuracy of the grade assigned to any PCGS coin as long as it remains in its tamper-evident holder. As the owner of a PCGS-graded coin, the customer will have the benefit of PCGS’s Guarantee of Grading Accuracy and Authenticity and each PCGS Authorized Dealer will accept the grades assigned to the coins by PCGS.”
In order to ensure that the coins PCGS Certified American Silver Eagle coins you purchase arrive in their promised condition, the PCGS encapsulates all coins it certifies inside of protective plastic slabs that not only protect the coin from damage, but preserve it for decades to come.
When you shop for PCGS Certified American Silver Eagle coins from JM Bullion, you’re going to encounter many of the terms used by the PCGS to quantify the value of a given coin and qualify it based upon class. For example, the use of Mint State refers to bullion versions of the American Silver Eagle, while PR refers to a graded proof version of the coins. The following are the common terms you can expect to see in our catalog of PCGS Certified American Silver Eagle coins:
On the whole, the PCGS grades coins with the Mint State and Proof (PR) labels ranging from 1 to 70. Today, coins can still be broken into three general categories before being assigned a Sheldon Scale number: circulated, about uncirculated, and uncirculated. The circulated coins have grades from 1 to 45. About Uncirculated coins have grades between 50 and 59, while Uncirculated coins have grades of 60 to 70.
Introduced in 1986, the American Silver Eagle was authorized by Congressional passage of the Liberty Coin Act of 1985. The program features only a 1 oz coin, and was originally available in the bullion and proof versions alone, with the aforementioned burnished coin added specifically for collectors in 2006.
On the obverse of all coins you’ll find the image of Walking Liberty. Created in 1916 by Adolph A. Weinman, this image is considered one of the finest in American coinage history. It appeared on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar from 1916 to 1947. In the design, Liberty is featured walking toward the setting sun with the American flag draped across her shoulders. Her outstretched hand reaches for a brighter future, while her left arm clutches the oak and laurel branches representing the nation’s civic and military accomplishments.
The reverse of all PCGS Certified American Silver Eagle coins include the heraldic eagle of the United States. First used on American coinage in 1794, the heraldic eagle design has been modified several times during the course of American history to modernize its appearance. This latest design of the bald eagle with its wings spread wide, clutching arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other, is set behind the nation’s heraldic shield and was created in 1986 by John Mercanti. At the time, Mercanti was the Chief Engraver of the United States Mint.
The American Silver Eagle was originally struck at the San Francisco Mint for both bullion and proof. The bullion coins were struck there until 1998, shifted to the Philadelphia Mint for 1999 and 2000, and settled at the West Point Mint from 2001 onward. The proof version was struck at San Francisco until 1992, moved to Philadelphia from 1993 to 2000, and also settled at West Point from 2001 onward.
American Silver Eagle coins are minted in bullion to meet the demand of investors, while the proof and burnished versions of the coin typically have strictly limited mintages to maintain demand and value in the market for the collectible versions of the coin. Overall, American Silver Eagle coins have ebbed and flowed during their 30-year history, experiencing a low point in the 1990s as silver prices sank.
In the modern era, however, the American Silver Eagle is soaring high. The US Mint saw sales records smashed consecutively in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 as a result of the market turmoil created by the Great Recession and the rising price of silver that occurred. Although it remained high in 2012 and 2013, the Silver Eagle failed to break sales records. However, in 2014 the Mint broke another record with 44.1 million coins sold, followed by 47.3 million in 2015.
JM Bullion customer service is available to help answer any of your questions about Certified American Silver Eagles. We are available to you on the phone at 800-276-6508, online using our live chat feature, and through our email address. Our Payment Methods FAQ page can help answer some of your initial questions about payment methods and applicable minimums on purchases, but please feel free to reach out to us with any questions that may persist.