By Charles Morgan and Hubert Walker for CoinWeek IQ….
Hi folks, and welcome to the latest installment of CoinWeek’s American Silver Eagle Price Guide Analysis. In this article, we cover Proof and Bullion Silver Eagles from 1990-1999 certified by NGC and PCGS. Our analysis of Silver Eagles from the 1980s can be found here. You should definitely check it out.
The second decade of American Silver Eagle production saw a decline in its popularity. It’s hard to imagine bullion ever falling out of favor given the record-breaking sales of this year’s issue, but it certainly was the case as the program entered its second decade of production.
Silver Eagle bullion mintages reached their nadir in 1996 with 3,603,386 struck. Proofs followed a similar trajectory but bottomed out in 1994. These “low” mintages play out in interesting ways in the certified coin market.
Starting with a macro-view of the decade, tracking price movement, we see the following trends developing since the summer:
Price Performance based on CoinWeek’s Silver Eagle Price Guide data, reflecting thousands of online transactions.
Combining these numbers, issues whose prices went up totaled 15; issues whose prices stayed the same totaled 24; and issues whose prices went down totaled 34. The majority of 1990s Silver Eagle issues have either held their price or lost value since the summer of 2015.
Meanwhile, populations increased for all issues, sometimes dramatically.
A quick note: On December 7 and December 14, Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) announced that it had signed former United States Mint Director Edmund C. Moy and former U.S. Mint Engraver John Mercanti to exclusive deals with NGC. The move of these two personalities from Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) to NGC is no doubt part of the fallout caused by former-PCGS Senior Grader Michael “Miles” Standish’s move from PCGS to NGC earlier this summer. While at PCGS, Standish was the head of the company’s bulk grading program and spearheaded the company’s efforts to sign Moy and Mercanti. It remains to be seen how PCGS will respond to these announcements. As it stands, CoinWeek’s efforts to keep track of Silver Eagle populations from the two services’ many different programs will undoubtedly become even more complex as we head into 2016.
Mint State Year-by-Year Breakdown
Top Pop, Pop 1.
On January 6, 2016 at Heritage Auction’s U.S. Coins Signature Auction, the sole PCGS MS70 1990 American Silver Eagle will hit the auction block. In our analysis of American Silver Eagle price movement for issues struck in the 1980s, we noted staggering declines in PCGS MS70s from 1986. That coin saw its population balloon from just three coins to 31 over the course of the year.
That burst of newly-minted coins had no historic precedent, given that PCGS has been in business for nearly 30 years and has been actively grading Silver Eagles for nearly half that time. It’s not a given that the same thing will happen to the 1990, but the fact is that it can happen. Whether or not this will be a consideration for bidders at the Heritage auction will play out in January; CoinWeek will be there when it does.
The PCGS MS69 “First Strike” population has increased by 339 pieces since our last update, an increase of 48%. If these new coins were all from the same “Monster Box”, then the PCGS MS69 pass-through rate for the box was approximately 68%. As far as we can tell, no MS68s were assigned from that box, and year to date only 10 MS68s have been added to PCGS’ population report for 1991s.
80.8% of all PCGS graded 1991 American Silver Eagles are graded MS69. The service has yet to assign the grade MS70 to any Mint State 1991 Eagle.
111 Edmund Moy MS69 coins appeared in PCGS pop reports over the summer. These are the first coins to appear on the pop reports bearing the Moy signature.
No change in prices. NGC out-certified PCGS for this issue (4,582 to 718) in 2015. The lack of coins graded MS70 continues to hurt PCGS’ market share.
Speaking of hurting PCGS market share, comparing the 2015 submission rates of 1994 Mint State American Silver Eagles at both PCGS and NGC is quite revealing.
NGC graded more than 5,000 Eagles in 2015 in grades MS69 and MS70. The ratio of 70s declined at NGC from 1 in 739 coins to 1 in 654. PCGS has yet to give out the vaunted grade even after reviewing 6,995 coins. The totality of PCGS’ population is roughly equal to NGC’s increase in certified population of the issue in 2015 alone.
The price of PCGS MS69s fell to $55-$65, down from our last price range of $60-$90. In our previous price tracking calculations, we saw a wide range of prices that buyers were willing to pay for the 1994 Mint State Eagle. This number has tightened up greatly over the past several months. Our $55 number is only slightly off from our June/July number and indicates a resistance level for the issue.
At the same time, the typical price of an NGC MS69 has gone up from $58-$64 to $65-$75. The NGC MS70 price lost approximately 15%. In 2015, 23 new MS70s were made. The ratio of NGC MS70s being graded is now 1 in 654 submissions.
The PCGS MS70 population ballooned from one to 23 pieces, bringing the ratio of 70s graded down to 1 in 484 from 1 in 7,541. We tracked down a number of these by reverse engineering PCGS’ certification numbers (of course we did).
Here’s what we’ve found:
A 915-coin order (certification numbers 32890403 through 32891318) accounts for 12 of the 22 new pieces, at a minimum. Six of the 12 have already sold via GreatCollections.com, the first one being offered on August 30, 2015 and then one selling roughly every other week through today.
Here are the six Great Collections 1995 PCGS MS70 Eagle auctions and results:
- 32891311 – $7,982.70 8/30/15
- 32891308 – $7,810 9/13/15
- 32891318 – $7,975 9/27/15
- 32891310 – $8085 10/11/15
- 32891313 – $8085 10/25/15
- 32890820 – $6385.50 11/22/15
Which leaves the following PCGS MS70 coins from the order unsold: 32891314, 32891315, and 32891317.
Also, PCGS ‘First Strike‘ saw an additional 151 MS68s and 295 MS69s.
Only NGC has awarded the MS70 grade to 1996-issue American Silver Eagles. In our last update, the market price of an NGC 70 was $9,000 to $9,500. Today that number is down 30%, at $5,500 to $6,500.
We see continued softness in the retail price of MS70 coins. NGC added 29 coins to their census, bringing their population total up to 531 pieces. PCGS’ population held steady at three coins in MS70, with none made this year. Relatedly, PCGS’ total number of 1997 Mint State Eagles certified this year sits at an anemic 367. NGC, on the other hand, added 5,679 to their ledger in 2015.
A typographical error? Perhaps. PCGS changed the population of First Strikes for 1997 from 142 MS68s down to 137 and 358 MS69s up to 363.
Prices for NGC MS70s have seen a decline of 15% since the summer.
The high water mark for the 1999 NGC MS70 Silver Eagle came on May 31, 2015, when 58 bids were placed on the rarely-offered coin. Hammer price with buyer’s premium was $26,950. Four subsequent offerings have pushed CoinWeek’s price range down to $17,500 to $19,000.
Proof Year-by-Year Breakdown
NGC added 41 Elizabeth Jones-signed PF69UCAMs and seven Jones PF70UCAMs.
PCGS increased their populations of Mercanti PR69DCAMs by 82 and more than doubled the number of Mercanti-signed 70s, going from 60 to 147. 10 new Moy-label MS69s were added to the population report, accompanied by 22 MS70s. The total number of Moys is now 717 in 69 and 51 in 70.
There are also now 23 Michael “Miles” Standish coins as well. All in MS69.
Signed labels seem to bring no premium on the secondary market, although we expect that these coins were initially offered at premium prices. A number of PCGS- and NGC-signed labels were offered on eBay and other online venues in recent months and brought prices similar to those of coins in “generic” labels.
PCGS PR70DCAMs have declined in value by 10% since the summer. PCGS coins are now trading for between $145 and $165. In our last survey, NGC coins in 70 were trading for a wide range ($170 to $200). We’ve tightened our price guidance now, based on a closer cluster of confirmed sales. We now see the coin selling for $185 to $200.
New Signature labels from PCGS
50 new Mercanti 69s and 53 Mercanti 70s. 10 Moy 69; 6 Moy 70.
PCGS reached inwards and introduced to the market signature labels from (former) PCGS Senior Grader Miles Standish and (present) PCGS major domo David Hall: 20 Miles 69s, 1 Miles 70; 4 David Hall 69s.
On December 9, 2015, a PCGS PR70DCAM signed by John Mercanti sold for $548. A 2.5x premium over the typical PCGS 70 price. The influx of new Mercanti signatures didn’t seem to dissuade the buyer. Mercanti 69s – 100 new – now sit at 465. 116 in 70, 80 of which are new. Moy – 99 new 69s, 11 new 70s; pop now 766/40. Miles – in our last report the Miles population was 20/1. It’s now 19/2. New David Hall: 6 / 4
NGC – Jones 38 new 69s, 2 new 70s. Pop now 281/17.
132 new 70s in regular labels (pop now 693). 40 new Mercanti 69s, 45 new Mercanti 70s. 70 pop now at 76. 96 new Moy 69s – three new Moy 70s.
27 new Jones 69s from NGC.
Added to PCGS’ population totals were 259 coins attributed to “The Philadelphia Set” (38 with Miles Standish signed labels). The Philadelphia Set was a gold and silver proof package offered to collectors by the Mint in 1993 that featured the standard 1/10-ounce, 1/4-ounce, and 1/2-ounce American Gold Eagle Proofs, the standard one-ounce American Silver Eagle Proof, and a one-ounce silver medal. The set was issued to “celebrate” the U.S. Mint’s bicentennial, but was really just a repackaging of off-the-shelf Mint products plus a silver medal.
Be that as it may, collectors are free to attribute extra value to whatever they see fit. This certainly seems to be the case with this $309 bid on a spotted and scratched PR69DCAM. Another, much nicer example sold for one-third of the price a few weeks earlier.
More new line items:
192 new Miles 69s, 25 new Miles 70s. Nine new David Hall 69s.
PCGS’s PR70DCAM population has now pushed past 600, currently sitting at 614 pieces. Year to date, this marks a 16% increase over where we started at at the end of 2014. During the same period, NGC’s population of 70s grew by 10%, now sitting at 532.
Sixty-eight Mercanti MS69 signatures were added – giving that population a total of 358. The same number of new Mercanti 70s were minted – boosting that population from 28 to 96.
Moy’s population rose from 669 to 679 in 69 and from 41 to 42 in 70.
Appearing for the first time in our census are 157 Miles Standish 69s, four Miles Standish 70s and 10 David Hall-signed proofs (nine 69s, one 70).
From NGC: 34 Elizabeth Jones 69s
NGC: 52 new Elizabeth Jones 69s (now 259) one new Jones 70 (now 18).
PCGS was also busy: 81 new Mercanti 69s (current population:334) 52 new 70s (current population: 85). 99 new Moy 69s, 13 new Moy 70s (current population: 41).
Introduced to market: David Hall seven 69s, three 70s; 334 Miles Standish 69s and 85 Standish 70s.
If you are interested in owning a 1995-W Proof American Silver Eagle certified by one of the two major grading services, consider this: since our last update this summer, NGC has added 19 MS70s and 86 MS69s. Total certified populations from NGC now stand at 390 in 70 and 3,938 in 69.
PCGS has added 211 MS69s year to date, and 42 MS70s. When 2015 began, the PCGS population of PR70DCAM 1995-W Eagles sat at 58 pieces. The total certified in the perfect grade increased by 79% and now sits at 104 pieces. In March 2013, a PCGS example in PR70DCAM sold for $86,654.70 at auction. Three of the last five auctions for PCGS PR70DCAMs that we’ve tracked realized $25,300 or less. A vest pocket dealer posted to our Facebook feed last week that he had two for sale, and would let them go for $22,000 each. Oh, how the mighty modern coin has fallen.
New Signature Label Pops: 20 new Mercanti 69s have been made since our last update – total is now 86. Seven new Mercanti 70s were added – total is now 10. One new PR70DCAM Moy label was made. The population for Moy is now five.
A distinction without a distinction…
Added to the PCGS populations are two new and absolutely unnecessary discrete populations: 1995-W $1 Silver Eagle 10th Anniversary Set and 1995-W $1 Silver Eagle 10th Anniversary Set Mercanti Signature. On both counts, every 1995-W ever sold or certified is a 10th Anniversary Set coin. The only purpose served by creating a new coin number (542350 for the first and 570433 for the second) is to conceal the fact that a large number of coins in plain holders and plain Mercanti signature holders have already been produced. To date, 2,222 10th Anniversary Set 1995-W Silver Eagle Proofs have been certified by PCGS – but only 44 are marketed on the label as being from the “10th Anniversary Set”.
No change in pricing, but some new pops to report: NGC – 38 new Jones 69s, four new Jones 70s. PCGS – 52 new Mercanti 69s (332) 51 new Mercanti 70s (87); 11 new Moy 69s (730), three new Moy 70s (730). Introduced to market: Miles Standish signature: 82 69s, 21 70s and nine David Hall-signed 69s, and one David Hall-signed 70.
PCGS: Mercanti signed 73 new 69s (current population now 326) and 73 new 70s (107). Moy signed 10 new 69s (707) and two new 70s (31). Miles Standish signed 99 69s and 18 70s. David Hall signed eight 69s and two 70s.
NGC – Elizabeth Jones signed 24 new 69s (310) and one new 70 (17).
PCGS: Mercanti signed 84 new Proof American Silver Eagles in PR69DCAM (350) and 97 new 70s (137). May signed 10 new 69s (683) and eight new 70s (37). Miles Standish signed 68 69s and 18 70s.
NGC: Elizabeth Jones signed 23 new 69s (281) and five new 70s (21).
PCGS: Mercanti signed 40 new 69s (334) and 40 new 70s (73). Moy signed 10 new 69s (705) and three new 70s (37). Miles Standish signed 20 69s and four 70s. David Hall signed nine 69s.
NGC: Elizabeth Jones signed 18 new 69s (304) and two new 70s (18).