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HomeUS Coins1992 American Silver Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1992 American Silver Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1992 American Silver Eagle. Image: CoinWeek / Adobe Stock.
1992 American Silver Eagle. Image: CoinWeek / Adobe Stock.

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

After a surge of American Silver Eagle sales in 1991, demand softened considerably in 1992. Still, the 1992 American Silver Eagle sold a respectful 5,540,068 coins – a total higher than the bullion strike coin sales in three of its first four years of release. In 1992, the United States Mint produced high-quality coins fully struck, satiny, and typically free of major blemishes. Occasionally, some would stain due to the Mint’s process of washing the planchets. These stains are known in the industry as “milk spots“.

Rising Pops of 1992 American Silver Eagles Collapsed Perfect Coin Prices

The cost to purchase bullion strikes was considerably cheaper in 1992, as the silver spot price hovered around $4 (8.90 in 2024 inflation-adjusted dollars) for most of the year. If one were to have purchased the bullion coin as an investment upon its release, by 2024, that investor would have experienced a 3.24% inflation-adjusted annual rate of return.

The same cannot be said about those who invested in MS70 coins certified by either PCGS or NGC.

Here’s why.

When we last reported in detail about this issue 10 years ago, the total certified population of the 1992 American Silver Eagle was 103,712 pieces. As of April 22, 2024, that number has increased to 146,252, which shows an annual growth rate of 4,250 coins. 96% of these coins were graded either MS69 or MS70. Submitters no longer accept grades below MS69. Coins that do not earn this minimum grade are returned as raw coins.

In 2014, MS69 coins from both services routinely traded for between $36 and $40. NGC dominated the market share, with over 90% of the coins certified at MS69 being in their holders. One of the reasons for this disparity was that NGC, unlike PCGS, was willing to give exceptional Eagles its MS70 grade. Through 2014, NGC had certified 349 of them, adding about 40 or 50 a year. PCGS, on the other hand, had graded only one coin at MS70. We believe that their first coin was graded thusly sometime in 2013.

The first two PCGS-graded MS70 1992 American Silver Eagles to cross the auction block in 2012. Images: GreatCollections / Heritage Auctions.
The first two PCGS-graded MS70 1992 American Silver Eagles to cross the auction block in 2012. Images: GreatCollections / Heritage Auctions.

January 2017 began with two PCGS MS70s offered at competing auctions. GreatCollections sold PCGS #82638048 on January 1, 2017, for a record price of $18,150. Later that week, at the Winter FUN Show, Heritage Auctions sold their examples (PCGS #81997703) for $16,450. A second MS70 from the same submission that yielded the GreatCollections coin was offered and sold on January 22 for $15,400. By the time Heritage offered PCGS #83779618 on April 28, the population of 70 had increased to nine coins. Dealers were actively trying to make MS70s, and the prices, due to new coins being made, were rapidly declining—the April 28 coin sold for $9,987.50, and coins sold at Heritage in August and September brought even lower prices. By the summer of 2018, the PCGS population had grown to 42 coins, and the going rate for a “perfect” 1992 American Silver Eagle had fallen to $2,000.

With PCGS no longer stingy with the appellation of the MS70 grade, the certified population increased at a rate of about 30 new coins per year. Whereas the 2012 MS69 to MS70 ratio at PCGS was 6,927:1, in the years since, that rate has come down to about 18.84:1. NGC continues to exhibit market dominance in the total number of coins submitted. The Sarasota, Florida-based grading service grades an average of 3,400 coins of this date each year. Their MS69:MS70 ratio for this period is 31.6:1.

CACG only began accepting American Silver Eagles for grading in the Spring of 2023; they have certified only 17 examples to date. From that total, three were graded MS70.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top PopulationPCGS MS70 (320, 4/2024), NGC MS70 (1405, 4/2024), and CAC MS70 (3, 4/2024).

  • NGC MS70 #4434872-022: eBay, April 14, 2024 – $860.
  • NGC MS70 #4653337-012: eBay, April 2, 2024 – $880.
  • NGC MS70 #3551544-003: eBay, March 27, 2024 – $927.87.
  • PCGS MS70 #43773908: Heritage Auctions, March 18, 2024, Lot 50156 – $1,020.
  • NGC MS70 #2724571-062: eBay, February 18, 2024 – $1,429. Ed Moy signature insert.
  • PCGS MS70 #35315038: Heritage Auctions, February 14, 2024, Lot 23998 – $1,110. John Mercanti signature insert.
  • PCGS MS70 #36076072: Heritage Auctions, October 9, 2023, Lot 51366 – $960.

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Design

Obverse:

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 (1992).

The design bears a notable resemblance to 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 and while Adolph Weinman did not directly copy, he did derive significant inspiration from Roty’s work. 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:

United States Mint Chief Engraver John 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.

Edge:

The edge of the 1992 American Silver Eagle bullion coin is reeded.

Coin Specifications

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coin
Year Of Issue: 1992
Mintage: 5,540,068
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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