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HomeUS Coins1999 American Silver Eagle : A Collector's Guide

1999 American Silver Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

1999 American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
1999 American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

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

The West Point Mint struck 7,408,640 American Silver Eagle bullion coins in 1999, marking the strongest showing for the United States Mint’s silver bullion program since its first full year of production in 1987. The market’s enthusiasm for precious metals coins was buoyed by more sophisticated national marketing approaches on the part of large-scale dealers and the public’s growing concern over computer-related issues that it was told might have a catastrophic impact on their daily lives. While concerns surrounding Y2K fizzled out when Americans woke up on January 1, 2000, to find out that the apocalypse hadn’t happened, the coming years marked an epochal change in American life. As a result, the strong showing in 1999 was dwarfed by bullion sales from 2000 onward.

What You Should Know About Silver Eagle Investing (But Don’t Read Anywhere Else)

It’s a pattern that repeats over and over again when it comes to the certified American Silver Eagle market: once stubbornly unavailable in Mint State 70, collector-investors competed with each other for overhyped coins at auction, sometimes paying well over $20,000 for examples that would have sold for five dollars over spot price had it not been for the appellation of the “perfect” 70 grade, only to see these coins lose three-quarters of their value within ten years after certified populations increased. This story, sadly, is seldom told in the available literature. The two best-known books on the subject are both conflicted: one was connected to a leading market maker, while the other paints far too rosy a picture of the coin’s investment potential without discussing the previous six-eight years of bearish market data.

Here’s the straight scoop: The American Silver Eagle is a great collector coin, but it is not a numismatic investment coin – at least not one that we’d recommend one choose over, say the Morgan Dollar, Large Cents, or early United States silver and gold coins. Certified American Silver Eagles are popularly collected and justifiably so, but conditional rarity in this series is temporal, and ultra-high market values are illusory. Over time, any coin that can be purchased for $30-$50 that might yield $1,000 or more dollars if given a “perfect” grade will always see its population rise.

Case in point, through 2014, NGC had certified 78,266 1999 American Silver Eagles in MS69 and 109 in MS70. Sales for NGC MS70 coins had reached $23,000 at auction. PCGS, through the same period, had graded 4,859 coins in MS69 and none in MS70. The wide discrepancy in submissions between the two services was the result of PCGS’s policy to not grade MS70 Silver Eagles due to the liability caused by a milk spotting issue that sometimes presented itself after the coins were graded. In the years since, NGC has certified 37,134 additional MS69 coins and 486 additional MS70s. PCGS around 2016, reversed its policy and began to certify MS70s. Since then, PCGS has certified 146 MS70s and added over 3,700 MS69s to its census. The first PCGS MS70s to sell at auction sold for $12,667.60 in 2016. At the time, the coin was one of five in that grade.

To date, PCGS coins sell for about $7,500, while NGC coins bring about $5,000. Even at the current market levels, the 1999 American Silver Eagle is still priced too high for our comfort.

Lance Armstrong Labels

PCGS population also includes 207 MS69 coins signed by Lance Armstrong. PCGS no longer lists this coin in Coinfacts and the coin number given to this novelty label (#89947) is not recognized by the site.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top PopulationPCGS MS70 (146, 6/2024), NGC MS70 (595, 6/2024), and CAC MS70 (3, 6/2024).

  • NGC MS70 #4662670-006: Stack’s Bowers, March 28, 2024, Lot 7782 – $4,560. Mike Castle signature insert.
  • NGC MS70 #2130891-011: “The Trinity Signature Collection,” Heritage Auctions, January 15, 2024, Lot 92073 – $5,040. John Mercanti signature insert.
  • PCGS MS70 #41905920: Heritage Auctions, October 9, 2023, Lot 51447 – $7,200.
  • NGC MS70 #4493349-002: Heritage Auctions, July 10, 2023, Lot 51268 – $5,280.
  • NGC MS70 #6497991-024: Heritage Auctions, May 8, 2023, Lot 50224 – $5,400.
  • NGC MS70 #6497989-020: Heritage Auctions, March 13, 2023, Lot 51324 – $6,300.
  • NGC MS70 #4493033-001: Heritage Auctions, June 14, 2018, Lot 4296 – $7,800; Heritage Auctions, March 13, 2023, Lot 51323 – $6,300.
  • PCGS MS70 #46027815: Heritage Auctions, January 9, 2023, Lot 51081 – $9,000.
  • NGC MS70 #4666546-003: Heritage Auctions, December 13, 2018, Lot 4044 – $5,040; Heritage Auctions, April 11, 2022, Lot 91123 – $7,800. Ronald Reagan novelty insert.
  • PCGS MS70 #39616087: Heritage Auctions, April 22, 2021, Lot 91119 – $14,400. John Mercanti signature label.
  • NGC MS70 #117192-001: Heritage Auctions, October 16, 2020, Lot 3643 – $3,240; GreatCollections, March 21, 2021, Lot 952413 – $6,356.25.
  • NGC MS70 #4493016-004: Heritage Auctions, December 30, 2020, Lot 29437 – $6,900John Mercanti signature label.
  • NGC MS70 #341198-001: Heritage Auctions, November 20, 2020, Lot 3816 – $6,600.
  • NGC MS70 #1834494-006: Heritage Auctions, November 20, 2020, Lot 3817 – $5,280; GreatCollections, April 4, 2021, Lot 961123 – View.
  • NGC MS70 #3585159-014: Heritage Auctions, October 16, 2020, Lot 3642 – $3,840.
  • NGC MS70 #1834495-001: Heritage Auctions, October 7, 2020, Lot 21901 – $4,560.
  • PCGS MS70 #34392065: Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2018, Lot 5823 – $9,000; Heritage Auctions, December 5, 2019, Lot 3464 – $13,200.
  • NGC MS70 #3729166-006: Heritage Auctions, April 26, 2019, Lot 4544 – $5,280.
  • NGC MS70 #2724567-095: Heritage Auctions, March 15, 2019, Lot 4495 – $5,040.
  • NGC MS70 #4493170-004: Heritage Auctions, November 8, 2018, Lot 3323 – $3,840.
  • NGC MS70 #315328-005: Heritage Auctions, October 11, 2018, Lot 3247 – $2,640.
  • NGC MS70 #4493065-001: Heritage Auctions, October 11, 2018, Lot 3249 – $4,080.
  • NGC MS70 #4493358-003: Heritage Auctions, September 7, 2018, Lot 3762 – $6,600.
  • NGC MS70 #4699985-001: Heritage Auctions, August 16, 2018, Lot 4885 – $6,600.
  • NGC MS70 #3369418-395: Heritage Auctions, March 29, 2018, Lot 3284 – $5,520.
  • NGC MS70 #4481158-005: Heritage Auctions, February 22, 2018, Lot 4454 – $7,200.
  • NGC MS70 #4490366-003: Heritage Auctions, January 5, 2018, Lot 5824 – $9,000.
  • NGC MS70 #4481151-003: Heritage Auctions, September 7, 2017, Lot 4111 – $7,800.
  • PCGS MS70 #84337584: Heritage Auctions, August 2, 2017, Lot 4241 – $9,987.50.
  • PCGS MS70 #81346020: GreatCollections, August 21, 2016, Lot 382232 – $12,667.60. Pop five when offered.
  • NGC MS70 #1985827-002: “The Siegel Collection,” Heritage Auctions, April 28, 2017, lot 4985 – $11,750.
  • NGC MS70 #1930310-013: Heritage Auctions, February 16, 2017, Lot 4136 – $8,518.75.
  • NGC MS70 #1792085-001: Heritage Auctions, January 6, 2017, Lot 6307 – $5,052.50. Toned.
  • NGC MS70 #315328-003: Heritage Auctions, January 7, 2016, Lot 5711 – $11,750.
  • NGC MS70 #1834507-003: Heritage Auctions, December 2010, Lot 4171; Heritage Auctions, August 12, 2015, Lot 3790 – $17,625.
  • NGC MS70 #1793429-002: “The Steltz Collection,” Heritage Auctions, June 4, 2015, Lot 4425 – $17,625.
  • NGC MS70 #3135321-002: Stack’s Bowers, February 2014, Lot 2200 – $23,500.
  • NGC MS70 #1796154-001: GreatCollections, May 27, 2012, Lot 52747 – $24,750.01; GreatCollections, December 29, 2013, Lot 160452 – $33,110.
  • NGC MS70 #1834484-106: Heritage Auctions, November 1, 2013, Lot 3975 – $28,200.
  • NGC MS70 #317224-005: Heritage Auctions, July 11, 2013, Lot 3465 – $18,800. Streaks of light toning.
  • NGC MS70 #1917748-014: Heritage Auctions, January 4, 2012, Lot 3399 – $24,150. 20th Anniversary Collection novelty label.
  • NGC MS70 #1858976-014: Heritage Auctions, January 6, 2011, Lot 5712 – $18,400. 20th Anniversary Collection insert.
  • NGC MS70 #1539293-002: Heritage Auctions, August 13, 2010, Lot 5528 – $17,250.
  • NGC MS70 #227967-001: Heritage Auctions, March 26, 2010, Lot 1888 – $20,700. Tiny toning streak on the rim between T and Y. 
  • NGC MS70 #3058138-014: “The Thrifty Scot Collection,” Heritage Auctions, September 13, 2009, Lot 9556 – $27,600.
  • NGC MS70 #1961304-001: Heritage Auctions, May 31, 2009, Lot 9296 – $7,475.

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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 1999.

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:

The Heraldic Eagle of United States Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti is positioned at the center. 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 1999 American Silver Eagle bullion coin is reeded.

Coin Specifications

American Silver Eagle Bullion Coin
Year of Issue: 1999
Mintage: 7,408,640
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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