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HomeUS Coins1998 American Silver Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1998 American Silver Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1998 American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1998 American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

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

The 1998 American Silver Eagle bullion coin was the last issue in the series to have a mintage under five million coins. From 1999 onward, demand for the American Silver Eagle increased to levels not seen since the program’s first full production year of 1987. In total, the United States Mint struck 4,847,549 silver bullion coins at the San Francisco Mint and the West Point Mint. As is tradition, the coins carried no mintmark and are often mistaken as products of the Philadelphia Mint.

The certified population of 1998 American Silver Eagles has increased at a rate of approximately 5,000 coins per year for the past 10 years. The current combined certified population for the three leading grading services now stands at just over 150,000 coins–136,000 of which are in NGC holders.

The landscape for MS70s 10 years ago was much different than it is now. In 2014, PCGS had certified only 17 coins in the “perfect” grade, while NGC reported 307. Furthermore, the ratios of 69:70 at the two services was 244.7:1 at PCGS and 317.2:1 at NGC. The ratio of 69s to 70s over the past 10 years is a far cry from those levels, with PCGS grading 7,211 new 69s and 445 new 70s (16.2:1) and NGC grading 31,053 new 69s and 3,453 new 70s (8.99:1).

CAC has only recently accepted submissions of modern coins and report 59% of the coins in their holders having graded MS70.

Milk spotting remains an issue for American Silver Eagles of this era. Some collectors are under the mistaken belief that MS70 coins with milk spots retain any numismatic premium over that of a raw coin. On occasion, you will find spotted coins offered at a 50% discount. Our advice is to avoid these coins altogether. Once spotted, the coins are slabbed bullion and once dipped, the coins will almost certainly lose their original characteristics.

“First Strikes” Appear

Some 17 years after being produced, PCGS certified its first “Monster Box” of 1998 American Silver Eagle “First Strikes” in 2015. Dealer James Sego purchased the box, one of that year’s earliest delivered boxes, from a collector and submitted it to PCGS for encapsulation. A total of 142 coins from the box graded MS68, while 358 graded MS69; no MS70s were recorded.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top PopulationPCGS MS70 (462, 6/2024), NGC MS70 (3760, 6/2024), and CAC MS70 (69, 6/2024).

  • NGC MS70 #6576821-047: eBay, May 25, 2024 – $1,060. John Mercanti signature label.
  • NGC MS70 #4434860-087: eBay, May 21, 2024 – $999.95.
  • PCGS MS70 #47714260: eBay, May 16, 2024 – $1,837.50.
  • NGC MS70 #6554482-009: Heritage Auctions, April 29, 2024,  Lot 52193 – $720. John Mercanti signature label.
  • NGC MS70 #6784040-009: eBay, April 11, 2024 – $1,095.
  • NGC MS70 #4560552-002: Stack’s Bowers, April 3, 2024, Lot 13539 – $660.
  • PCGS MS70 #24075864: “The Twinight Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2013, Lot 5197 – $4,993.75. Pop 17 when offered.

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Design

Obverse:

Artist 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 1998.

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 1998 American Silver Eagle bullion coin is reeded.

Coin Specifications

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coin
Year of Issue: 1998
Mintage: 4,847,549
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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