HomeUS Coins1990-S Proof American Silver Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1990-S Proof American Silver Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1990-S Proof American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1990-S Proof American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

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

Collector enthusiasm lifted demand for the 1990-S Proof American Silver Eagle to its highest sales figure since 1987. The United States Mint sold 695,510 Proofs to collectors at an issue price of $23 USD ($57.93 in adjusted 2024 dollars). This had been the same price that the Mint had charged for the Proof version of their popular bullion coin since the program’s second year.

What Is the 1990-S American Silver Eagle Proof Coin Worth?

Coin dealers active in the sale of certified American Silver Eagles have submitted, on average, just over 2,000 1990-S Proof American Silver Eagles each year for at least the last 10 years. As of April 2024, the combined total of certified coins from CAC, NGC, and PCGS stands at 52,149. NGC leads the way with over 29,000 coins certified, and PCGS closes the gap with 22,968 coins in their holders. CAC is a new grading service that reports just 48 grading events, with 46 graded PR70DCAM.

We’ve been following a trend in our analysis of the series: the increased success rate at NGC and PCGS for Proof 70s. Through 2014, the NGC success rate was 3.93%, while PCGS population data indicated that 17.85% of the coins submitted and graded earned a 70 grade. We put “and graded” in italics in that last sentence because we have no way of knowing whether bulk submitters have been given the option of no-grading coins that don’t earn the 70 grade, and since the 70 grade is the only consistently profitable grade (see terminal point), it’s possible that these 69/70 ratios are indicative of market realities and not a snapshot of a pass/fail rate.

We bring this up because those 69/70 rates have nothing in common with the same rates since 2014. Over the past decade, 33.1% of the new 1990-S American Silver Eagle Proofs certified by NGC have graded PF70UCAM, while 37.3% of the new coins submitted to PCGS have graded PR70DCAM (the two services use different nomenclature to say the same thing).

So, what is a 1990-S American Silver Eagle worth? In its raw form, with complete original government packaging, sellers can expect $55-$65 per coin, the same price that sellers on sites like eBay get for coins graded Proof 69 by the grading services. In Proof 70, we’ve tracked examples selling for a range of prices between $125 and $245, with the typical example selling for about $175. In 2024 dollars, it is cheaper to buy a 1990-S American Silver Eagle Proof today than it was 10 years ago, as prices for 70s have declined by about $85 per coin, when prices have been adjusted for inflation.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top Population: PCGS PR70DCAM (5,995, 4/2024). NGC PF70UCAM (4,702, 4/2024). CAC PR-70DCAM (46, 4/2024).

  • PCGS PR70DCAM #14694824: eBay, April 14, 2024 – $150.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #6084440-016: eBay, April 10, 2024 – $178.50. John Mercanti signature label.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #35342688: eBay, April 9, 2024 – $199.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #2704127-001: Stack’s Bowers, April 3, 2024, Lot 13526 – $125.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #4645811-022: eBay, March 27, 2024 – $245.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #6681615-009: Stack’s Bowers, August 23, 2023, Lot 31868 – $168.

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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 (1990).

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 1990-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin is reeded.

1990-S Silver Eagle Proof Coin Specifications

American Silver Eagle Proof Coin
Year Of Issue: 1990
Denomination: One Dollar (USD)
Mint Mark: S (San Francisco)
Mintage: 695,510
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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