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HomeUS Coins2002-W American Silver Eagle Proof : A Collector's Guide

2002-W American Silver Eagle Proof : A Collector’s Guide

2002-W American Silver Eagle. Image: CoinWeek.
2002-W American Silver Eagle. Image: CoinWeek.

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

The Proof American Silver Eagle debuted in 1986, and with the expectation of only one year (2009), Proofs have been struck each year since. Eagle Proofs with the Heraldic Eagle (Type 1) reverse of designer John Mercanti reverse (1986-2021) were produced at three branch mints. From 1986 to 1992, Proofs were struck at San Francisco, while Philadelphia struck Proofs from 1993 to 2000. In 1995, as a one-off, the United States Mint produced a limited number of American Silver Eagle Proofs at West Point. This coin, the 1995-W American Silver Eagle Proof, was packaged along with that year’s four Proof American Gold Eagles. With the set priced beyond most collectors’ means, that coin quickly became the key to the series.

Starting in 2001, the production of Proof American Silver Eagles resumed at West Point, but this time permanently. Proof strikings produced at the West Point Mint carry the “W” mintmark below the olive branch on the coin’s reverse.

During this third period, 2001-2021, American Silver Eagle Proofs saw stronger sales than in the previous two. At this time, the U.S. Mint also made collecting American Silver Eagles more complicated by broadening the offerings of its collector versions with three new finishes: Burnished Uncirculated, Reverse Proof, and Enhanced Reverse Proof.

The Mint released the 2002-W American Silver Eagle Proof on June 5 of that year and sold 647,342 pieces from a published production limit of 750,000. The coins were sold for $24 ($42.56 in 2024 dollars).

The Growing Certified Population of 2002-W American Silver Eagles

The certified coin market has transformed the collecting of modern coins. Collectors appreciate the grading opinion of the services, the ability to look up and verify their coins, as well as the various label designs that the services produce for their marketer clients. The total number of certified 2002-W American Silver Eagle Proofs has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, rising from 26,684 in 2014 to 47,629 as of June 20, 2024. The typical assigned grade for the issue is Proof 69 Deep Cameo/Ultra Cameo, although “perfect” 70s are not scarce and have consistently been graded by NGC and PCGS.

How Much Are 2002-W American Silver Eagle Proof Coins Worth?

The 2002-W American Silver Eagle Proof has seen slight declines in its numismatic value in recent years due to inflation. Examples graded Proof 69 by either NGC or PCGS would routinely sell for $46 to $54 a decade ago, according to data compiled by CoinWeek. To keep up with inflation, today’s prices would have to fall in the $62 to $72 range. However, eBay prices realized compiled March through June 2024 show a price range of $50 to $65. The Guide Book reports ridiculous prices of $125 for the issue, as well as other coins of the era. This price level exists to support the marketers and is not truly reflective of the secondary market.

While there are benefits to choosing certified examples over specimens in original government packaging, there is no price difference between the two. In Proof 70, the 2002-W American Silver Eagle Proof is easily acquired and carries a premium of about $20-$30 over the price of a Proof 69. Signature labels signed by John Mercanti (NGC and PCGS) consistently outperform other “products” offered by grading services and modern coin marketing companies.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top PopulationPCGS PR70DCAM (4,999, 6/2024), NGC PF70UCAM (7,627, 6/2024), and CAC PR70DCAM (6, 6/2024).

  • PCGS PR70DCAM #16207038: eBay, June 19, 2024 – $85.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #35884329: eBay, June 19, 2024 – $132.50. John Mercanti signature label.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #4264565-003: eBay, June 18, 2024 – $90.87.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #113449-002: eBay, June 15, 2024 – $116.99.
  • NGC PF70UCAM #6305072-072: eBay, June 10, 2024 – $153.50. John Mercanti signature label.
  • PCGS PR70DCAM #37389322: eBay, June 9, 2024 – $77.

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Design

Obverse:

Artist Adolph A. Weinman’s figure of 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 reaches out and presents a welcoming and open hand. So large is Lady Liberty that she is superimposed over the word 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 2002.

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. It would be used with minor modifications on the American Silver Eagle coin starting in 1986.

Reverse:

United States Mint Chief Engraver John Mercanti’s Heraldic Eagle 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. The W mintmark appears below the olive branch.

Edge:

The edge of the 2002-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin is reeded.

Coin Specifications

American Silver Eagle Proof Coin
Year of Issue: 2002
Mintage: 647,342
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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