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HomeUS Coins2008-W Burnished American Silver Eagle : A Collector's Guide

2008-W Burnished American Silver Eagle : A Collector’s Guide

2008-W American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
2008-W American Silver Eagle. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

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

For the third consecutive year, the United States Mint offered its numismatic customers burnished American Silver Eagles struck at the West Point Mint. The burnished coins are superficially similar to the bullion strikes but are struck using special dies and planchets that have been polished in a Spaleck machine. Sold individually and carrying the “W” mintmark of West Point, the 2008-W American Silver Eagle Burnished was offered for $25.95 with no mintage limit. The Mint reported final sales of 533,757, slightly lower than the mintage reported for the 2007-W American Silver Eagle Burnished and slightly more than what was sold in 2006. Despite these strong sales, the Mint would suspend Burnished offerings in 2009 and 2010. The finish would return in 2011 when the United States Mint marked the 25th Anniversary of the American Silver Eagle Program with a Special Set.

New reverse hubs were prepared for the 2008 American Silver Eagles to improve the clarity of the design. Several details are noticeably different than the previous year’s design, but most collectors note a change in the font used for the legend. This variety was first reported by NGC in April 2008. The discovery quickly set off a race to locate examples and submit them for certification and auction. This variety is referred to in the Cherrypicker’s Guide as FS-901 and is listed in the Guide Book. When pressed on the matter, the Mint acknowledged that some 47,000 coins were struck using reverses left over from 2007. The leading grading services have certified nearly 24,000 examples of this variety through July 6, 2024.

2008-W Silver Eagle Burnished (Reverse of ’07)

2008-W American Silver Eagle Burnished with Reverse of 2007. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
2008-W American Silver Eagle Burnished with Reverse of 2007. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

The fonts used on American Silver Eagles struck from 1986 to 2007 are easily distinguished from those struck starting in 2008. Strikes mistakenly produced from the 2007 reverse die can be identified by the lack of a serif at the base of the “U” and the flattened apex of the letter “A”.

Side-by-side comparison of the two 2008 American Silver Eagle Burnished reverse lettering styles. Image: Stack's Bowers / CoinWeek.
Side-by-side comparison of the two 2008 American Silver Eagle Burnished reverse lettering styles. Image: Stack’s Bowers / CoinWeek.

Collectors consider this variety part of the regular set, which is why examples sell for eight to 10 times more than the common 2008-W Reverse of 2008 version. More than half of the reported mintage has already been certified and additional examples will continue to be submitted so long as the clear profit motive persists. It is doubtful that we will see more than a 30-40% increase in the number of coins graded “70”, even as it appears that the leading services have been more lenient in the application of that grade in recent years.

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Market Data and Noteworthy Specimens

Top PopulationPCGS SP70 (1,495, 7/2024), NGC MS70 (8,548, 7/2024), and CAC MS70 (40, 7/2024).

  • NGC MS70 #3198493-133: eBay, July 3, 2024 – $950.
  • NGC MS70 #2561008-001: eBay, July 1, 2024 – $776.
  • NGC MS70 #3198553-005: eBay, June 29, 2024 – $899.
  • PCGS SP70 #37488096: eBay, June 26, 2024 – $1,074.99.
  • PCGS SP70 #37231873: eBay, June 24, 2024 – $1,615.50. John Mercanti signature label.
  • PCGS MS70 #19589212: eBay, June 23, 2024 – $880. PCGS mechanical error MS instead of SP.
  • PCGS SP70 #49344118: eBay, June 15, 2024 – $1,099.99. First Strike.
  • PCGS SP70 #35613073: eBay, June 3, 2024 – $1,995. Mercanti signature label with blue ring.
  • PCGS SP70 #84271633: eBay, March 25, 2024 – $1,995. Mercanti signature label with blue ring.

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2008-W Silver Eagle Burnished (Reverse of ’08)

“U” with serif, “A” has pointed tips. This reverse represents the majority of the 2008-W American Silver Eagle Burnished coins issued. Raw coins sell for about the same amount as MS69s and even some MS70s (on the secondary market). NGC has a clear advantage in terms of the number of coins certified. PCGS coins can be sourced without much difficulty, however. CACG has graded too few of these Silver Eagles for a market to materialize.

Top PopulationPCGS SP70 (6,613, 7/2024), NGC MS70* (36,489, 7/2024), and CAC MS70 (5, 7/2024).

*Due to an issue with the NGC website, the population data for the non-variety 2008-W American Silver Eagle can only be viewed in the census report.

  • NGC MS70 #3691253-034: eBay, July 5, 2024 – $49.
  • NGC MS70 #6569655-073: eBay, July 4, 2024 – $62.99.
  • NGC MS70 #3201057-002: eBay, July 3, 2024 – $69.99.
  • NGC MS70 #6299111-054: eBay, July 3, 2024 – $84.99.
  • NGC MS70 #3205086-169: eBay, July 3, 2024 – $47.
  • PCGS MS70 #13077275: eBay, June 29, 2024 – $79.99. Graded before PCGS applied the SP designation to burnished coins.
  • PCGS SP70 #81479247: eBay, June 26, 2024 – $129.

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 reaches out and presents a welcoming and open hand. So large is Lady Liberty that she is superimposed over the legend LIBERTY that rings the top half of the obverse, obscuring 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 2008.

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. The “W” mintmark is located below the branch.

Edge:

The edge of the 2008-W American Silver Eagle Burnished coin is reeded.

Coin Specifications

American Silver Eagle Burnished Coin
Year of Issue: 2008
Mintage: 533,757
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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