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Bullion Shark – For the Advanced Silver Eagle Collector: An Explanation of the Various Proof Finishes

American Silver Eagle

By Bullion Shark LLC ……
Proof Silver Eagles are undoubtedly some of the most stunning coins a modern coin collector can lay his or her eyes on. The cameo details (black to white contrast) and the painstaking detail that the respected engraver John Mercanti took in creating this coin have made this piece just breathtaking.

Just when you thought the Silver Eagle couldn’t get any more stunning, the United States Mint started to change things up in 2006. To commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Silver Eagle, the U.S. Mint released the first-ever Reverse Proof Silver Eagle. This special finish coin was also minted in 2011, 2012, and 2013 in three other Silver Eagle Anniversary Sets. In 2013, the U.S. Mint went one step further and put its artistic expertise to work. The Silver Eagle Anniversary set from that year featured the only ever Enhanced Finish Silver Eagle. This coin is undoubtedly one of the most stunning Silver Eagle ever released. Now let’s dive into the details of each Proof Silver Eagle finish.

The Proof Silver Eagle

1986-S American Silver EagleThe U.S. Mint has been pumping out the standard Proof Silver Eagle right from 1986 and still is minting them today. These coins feature frosted devices and shiny or cameo fields. These coins are all struck to have a cameo effect, which is the black-to-white contrast that one can see in the photo depicted. This finish is achieved by polishing the blanks before they are stuck. These coins were minted at the San Francisco Mint from 1986-1992, the Philadelphia Mint from 1993-2000, and the West Point Mint from 2001 to the present day. Some exceptions exist, such as the sought after 1995-W, 2017-S, and 2018-S Proof Silver Eagles. After their intensive minting process, these stunning coins are placed in official U.S. Mint packaging and are shipped off to the public.

The Reverse Proof Silver Eagle

This special Silver Eagle has been minted only four times in the 34-year lifetime of the popular silver coin.

American Silver Eagle Reverse ProofThe appearance of this coin follows right along with its name – it is simply the reverse of the standard Proof Silver Eagle. The fields or background is frosted while the devices (Lady Liberty and the Eagle) are shiny. These have become a fan favorite among modern-day collectors due to their low mintages and limited availability. The mint achieves this stunning finish by specially polishing blanks before striking them. These coins were released in the 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013 Silver Eagle Anniversary Sets.

The Enhanced Finish Silver Eagle

The Enhanced Finish Silver Eagle is one of the most stunning of all Silver Eagles. This look is achieved with a mix of heavily frosted, lightly frosted, and uncirculated finishes. This piece has so far been minted only one time and was produced in small quantities. In fact, only 235,689 of these coins were ever sold by the Mint. And just consider how few graded out in a perfect grade of 70.

This piece is hard to describe, so it is helpful to look at the image to get the jist. A lightly frosted finish can be seen on the red stripes and blue field of the flag, the mountains, the date, and Lady Liberty’s sandals. On the reverse of the coin, the olive branch, portions of the shield, arrow, and beak display a heavily frosted finish. Lastly, an uncirculated finish can be seen on the remainder of the coin.


It has now been almost 10 years since collectors have seen a special finish Silver Eagle. These coins were met with such demand that one must wonder why the U.S. Mint has not released more reverse proof or enhanced finish Silver Eagles or even other, never-before-seen finishes. One can not deny that if any of these special finish Silver Eagles were to be released today, collector demand would be quite high. But thankfully it seems that the Mint has heard this desire and will be fulfilling it this July with the release of the 2019 Enhanced Reverse Proof Silver Eagle!

Stay tuned to see our next article that goes into depth on the specifics of all the different Silver Eagle Anniversary Sets!

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Disclaimer: *These are solely the opinions of Bullion Shark, LLC and are not intended to be used as investment advice. Please consult an investment adviser before investing.*


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