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HomeUS Coins1991-S Proof American Silver Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1991-S Proof American Silver Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1991-S American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / Adobe Stock.
1991-S American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / Adobe Stock.

By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek Notes …..
Collector demand for the 1991-S Proof American Silver Eagle was down 26% from the year before, even as the United States Mint held the price at $23 USD ($57.93 in adjusted 2024 dollars). The Mint sold 511,925 Proofs – a level that would not be seen again until 1999. The 1991-S is also the second-to-last San Francisco Mint Proof issue of the coin’s initial run. In 1993, Proof production would shift to the Philadelphia Mint before moving to the West Point Mint in 2001. Proof American Silver Eagle coinage would return to San Francisco later for certain special releases.

What Is the 1991-S American Silver Eagle Proof Coin Worth?

In its raw form, with complete original government packaging, the 1991-S Proof American Silver Eagle sells for a range of prices on eBay. At the low end, we have seen multiple transactions for $55 to $60, while sellers who post “Buy It Now” listings have sold examples for $70 or more. This spread is not unusual with modern coins, but we’d call the $70 level the “high” retail price. The coin’s actual value is probably $60.

Sellers get slightly more money for certified coins. It is not unusual for there to be a large spread here, as well. For 50 transactions for this issue reported from February to April 2024, buyers have paid between $60 and $150 for coins graded Proof-69 Deep Cameo. Note that the highest prices have typically been paid, for example, with John Mercanti-signed labels. Other labels bring slight premiums but not Mercanti-level premiums. Sculptor-engraver Mercanti designed the reverse of the Type 1 American Silver Eagle.

Ten years ago, Proof-70s sold for between $360 and $410. Then, the certified population of 70s was a fraction of today’s levels. NGC certified 696 coins through 2014, while PCGS reported 958. Through May 2024, NGC has graded 2,475 1991-S American Silver Eagle Proofs as Proof-70, while PCGS has graded 3,354. PCGS-graded coins currently trade for about $320; NGC coins sell for about $100 more. We take from this that more collectors are trying to assemble a complete NGC 70 set, and there are currently fewer coins to go around.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Total Certified Population (as of 5/2024): 24,420.

Top Population: PCGS PR70DCAM (3,354, 5/2024), NGC PF70UCAM (2,475, 5/2024), and CAC PR70DCAM (21, 5/2024).

  • NGC PF70UCAM #5762063-032: Stack’s Bowers, April 24, 2024, Lot 95535 – $384. John Mercanti signature label.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #44528214: eBay, April 16, 2024 – $289.95.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #27856786: eBay, April 14, 2024 – $170.39. Horrible seller photos.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #4512548-014: Stack’s Bowers, April 10, 2024, Lot 94665 – $264.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #4512548-012: Stack’s Bowers, April 3, 2024, Lot 13528 – $216.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #19592504: eBay, March 30, 2014 – $300.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #46589470: March 24, 2024 – $264. Michael Reagan signature label.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #82154723: Stack’s Bowers, March 13, 2024, Lot 92590 – $264. Milk spot between R and T.

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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 the motto IN GOD WE TRUST, and below her is the date (1991).

The design resembles sculptor Oscar Roty’s The Sower, a common image on French coins. Numismatist and CoinWeek contributor 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 mintmark of San Francisco.

Edge:

The edge of the 1991-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin is reeded.

1991-S Silver Eagle Proof Coin Specifications

American Silver Eagle Proof Coin
Year Of Issue: 1991
Denomination: One Dollar (USD)
Mintmark: S (San Francisco)
Mintage: 511,925
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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