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HomeUS Coins1989-S Proof American Silver Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1989-S Proof American Silver Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1989-S American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek
1989-S American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
 

Even though silver spot prices retreated in 1989, American Silver Eagle bullion and Proof sales increased slightly that year. For the Proof version, the United States Mint held firm with its $23 USD issue price ($57.93 in adjusted 2024 dollars).

What Is the 1989-S American Silver Eagle Proof Coin Worth?

The certified population of 1989-S American Silver Eagles stands at 49,154 coins (7.96% of the total mintage), with 78.6% graded PR69 DCAM/UCAM. This data point should confirm that the 1989-S is a very well-made coin. This is reinforced by the fact that the 1989-S is, traditionally, the least expensive Silver Eagle from the 1980s in “Perfect 70“.

Over the past 10 years, the certified population has increased from 29,301 to its present total, for an average of 1,985 new submissions per year. CAC Grading, a newly-formed full-service grading company, has certified only 39 1989-S Silver Eagles (as of April 11, 2024), with 38 of them earning the PR70DCAM. These are likely crossover coins, with the service and the customer agreeing to a minimum PR70DCAM grade. CAC does not publish its failure rate.

NGC had graded 15,045 PF69UCAMs through 2014; that number has grown to 22,310. In PF70UCAM, the population has almost quadrupled, from 1,148 in 2014 to 3,928 as of April 11, 2024. NGC’s 70s accounted for just 7% of the total coins graded in 2014, but for all of the coins graded since, the percentage of coins added to the PF70 population has risen to 27.6%.

PCGS had graded 10,533 PR69DCAMs through the same period; as of April 11, that figure has risen to 16,422. In PR70DCAM, the PCGS population has increased from 2,001 to 5,456 coins. Meanwhile, the percentage of PCGS PR70DCAM through 2014 was 15.9%; measuring only the coins graded since then, that rate has increased to 37%.

As with CAC, neither service publishes its failure rate, but as Proof-69 coins are largely unprofitable, some submitters may have a minimum grading of 70.

The retail value of the 1989-S American Silver Eagle has essentially held at $50 to $60 since 2014, even though silver prices are about $9 an ounce higher today than they were a decade ago. The average retail value of a 70 was between $180 and $250, with NGC coins routinely selling for more money. NGC coins appear to have maintained that slight market advantage for this date. Collectors have shown a willingness to pay more for certain signed labels.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS PR70DCAM (5,454, 4/2024). NGC PF70UCAM (3,928, 4/2024). CAC PR-70DCAM (38, 4/2024).

  • PCGS PR70DCAM: eBay – M.Barr Coins, April 8, 2024 – $224.02. Seller may use the same image for multiple sales.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #6084557-025: eBay – KNH Collectibles, April 7, 2024 – $325. John Mercanti-signed label.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #33753581: eBay – Bullion Express, April 4, 2024 – $145.50.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #4394805-026: Stack’s Bowers, April 3, 2024, Lot 13525 – $192.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #27231852: eBay – FirstModernCoins, March 29, 2024 – $185.

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Design

Obverse:

Sculptor Adolph A. Weinman’s Lady Liberty is depicted mid-stride. She is seen as a full-body figure, dressed in a flowing gown, and draped with a large billowing American flag. She holds laurel and oak branches in her left hand that symbolize the civil and military glories of America, respectively. As Liberty strides confidently towards the rising sun, she also reaches out and presents a welcoming and open hand. So large is Lady Liberty that she is superimposed over the obverse legend LIBERTY ringing the obverse – in fact, she obscures half of the “BE” and almost the entire “R”. Above Liberty’s outstretched rear foot is IN GOD WE TRUST, and below her is the date (1988).

The design resembles sculptor Oscar Roty’s The Sower, a common image on French coins. Numismatist Roger Burdette posited in his book Renaissance of American Coinage (2007) that this was not a coincidence. While Adolph Weinman did not directly copy Roty’s work, he did derive significant inspiration from it. Weinman’s Liberty Walking design quickly became one of America’s most iconic numismatic images and would be used with minor modifications on the American Silver Eagle bullion coin starting in 1986.

Reverse:

Future United States Mint Chief Engraver John M. Mercanti’s Heraldic Eagle is positioned at the center of the reverse. Clutched in its beak is a ribbon bearing the motto E PLURIBUS UNUM. Above its head is a constellation of 13 stars configured in an upside-down pyramid formation. The legend (top) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is wrapped around the design and the fineness and denomination (bottom) 1 OZ. FINE SILVER. ONE DOLLAR. Below the olive branch is the S mint mark of San Francisco.

Edge:

The edge of the 1989-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin is reeded.

Coin Specifications

American Silver Eagle Proof Coin
Year Of Issue: 1989
Denomination: One Dollar (USD)
Mint Mark: S (San Francisco)
Mintage: 617,694
Alloy: 99.9% silver
Weight: 31.1 g
Diameter: 40.6 mm
Edge: Reeded
OBV Designer: Adolph A. Weinman
REV Designer: John M. Mercanti

 

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CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes
CoinWeek Notes presents expert analysis and insights from Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker, the award-winning editors of CoinWeek.com.

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