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Jeff Garrett: American Silver Eagle Coin Season Begins

American Silver Eagle 2019

The first of the popular coins for 2019 are about to enter the numismatic marketplace

By Jeff Garrett for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) ……
In recent years, an annual tradition in the numismatic world has begun at the beginning of every calendar year. Starting in January, the US Mint commences delivery of United States Silver Eagles.

These coins have become the most collected series in numismatics. Several large rare coin companies, wholesalers and marketing operations submit tens of thousands of freshly minted coins for grading. NGC and other grading companies devote a large portion of their staff and resources to getting the coins graded, put in holders and out the door. The number of coins graded in a short amount of time is truly amazing.

Many probably wonder why this occurs every year. The simple answer: demand. Silver Eagles are now collected by more people than about any other series on the planet. The coins have a lot going for them, and the incessant demand by collectors is a prime factor for so many being submitted each year.

Reverse of W-Mint American Silver Eagle
Reverse of W-Mint American Silver Eagle

The following are just a few of the selling points for this popular series:

  • The coins are large and contain one ounce of pure silver. Collectors love large coins such as Silver Dollars and Double Eagles.
  • Silver Eagles feature one of the most beautiful designs of any United States coin. The Walking Liberty design by Adolph Weinman translates incredibly well in the larger format.
  • The coins are collectible but very popular as a bullion play. Containing one ounce of pure silver, the coins are sought after by anyone interested in bullion.
  • The series is very collectible in MS 69 and has been struck since 1986. Anyone with around $1,500 or so can assemble a complete set of NGC MS 69 Silver Eagles. A complete set is quite impressive and can be added to each year.

This is where it gets really interesting. The Silver Eagle series is full of condition rarities in MS 70. A complete set of 1986-to-date NGC MS 70 Silver Eagles would probably cost close to $75,000. It is also extremely challenging, as many of the dates are seldom seen on the marketplace. Completing a set in MS 70 can be done, but takes a considerable amount of searching. The challenge is the attraction!

The series has a few of the greatest condition rarities in all of numismatics. These are coins that jump a huge amount from one grade to the next. The best example of this is the 1999 Silver Eagle. An MS 69 Silver Eagle can be purchased for around $65. An MS 70 1999 Silver Eagle is worth nearly $20,000. This may seem crazy to some collectors, but anyone searching for one of these can tell you how difficult they are to locate.

Silver Eagles produced in the last 10 years are very affordable in MS 70, most of which can be purchased for less than $100.

Finally, Silver Eagles are one of the most promoted coins in all of numismatics. Large companies sell huge numbers of these to new collectors. This is an incredible blessing for our industry. Thousands of new collectors are introduced to the hobby because they saw an ad for a Silver Eagle. The story is compelling for anyone even slightly interested in collecting coins. With a price point of less than $100 in MS 70, Silver Eagles are within reach of nearly every buyer. Large numbers of these new buyers quickly become interested in other, more advanced areas of the market. Silver Eagles are an excellent “gateway” issue for attracting new collectors to the hobby.

In addition to Mint State Silver Eagles, the US Mint also produces coins for collectors each year. Traditionally, these have been Proof issues struck for collectors. Proof coins are coins made in much smaller numbers on specially prepared dies. The coins are deeply mirrored with fully reflective surfaces. Proof Silver Eagles are simply stunning.

The Mint has also begun to produce other types of Silver Eagles over the last several years. These include Reverse Proofs and Enhanced Finish examples. A complete set of Silver Eagles in Mint State and Proof is actually quite complex and very challenging.

Silver Eagles will probably continue to be highly sought after by beginning and advanced collectors alike. The series is extremely interesting and demand will probably grow in the future. Several Silver Eagles are listed in the book 100 Greatest Modern Coins by Scott Schechter and myself. There will undoubtedly be others added to the list as the Mint adds creative issues to the lineup.

Another great book with wonderful information on the series is American Silver Eagles by John Mercanti and Miles Standish. The book details the origins of the issue, with explanations and photos of every issue since 1986.

The next time you see an ad for a Silver Eagle, you will now know why so many people find them interesting. Perhaps the ad will get you started on what many consider the most fun numismatic collectible. We all start somewhere!

Since you’ve made it this far, please reach out and see how I can help you build your collection!

To learn about FUN Show submissions of 2019-W Proof Silver Eagles, click here.

Jeff Garrett
Jeff Garrett
Jeff Garrett, founder of Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, is considered one of the nation’s top experts in U.S. coinage — and knowledge lies at the foundation of Jeff’s numismatic career. With more than 35 years of experience, he is one of the top experts in numismatics. The “experts’ expert,” Jeff has personally bought and sold nearly every U.S. coin ever issued. Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t call on Jeff Garrett for numismatic advice. This includes many of the nation’s largest coin dealers, publishers, museums, and institutions. In addition to owning and operating Mid-American Rare Coin Galleries, Jeff Garrett is a major shareholder in Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries. His combined annual sales in rare coins and precious metals — between Mid-American in Kentucky and Sarasota Rare Coin Galleries in Florida — total more than $25 million. Jeff Garrett has authored many of today’s most popular numismatic books, including Encyclopedia of U.S. Gold Coins 1795–1933: Circulating, Proof, Commemorative, and Pattern Issues; 100 Greatest U.S. Coins; and United States Coinage: A Study By Type. He is also the price editor for The Official Redbook: A Guide Book of United States Coins. Jeff was also one of the original coin graders for the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). He is today considered one of the country’s best coin graders and was the winner of the 2005 PCGS World Series of Grading. Today, he serves as a consultant to Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC), the world’s largest coin grading company. Jeff plays an important role at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Department and serves as a consultant to the museum on funding, exhibits, conservation, and research. Thanks to the efforts of Jeff and many others, rare U.S. coins are once again on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. Jeff has been a member of the Professional Numismatic Guild (PNG) since 1982 and has recently served as president of the organization. He has also served as the ANA President and as a member of the ANA Board of Governors.

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