The American Silver Eagle
The American Silver Eagle coin is the United State’s official silver bullion coin. The design of the coin is based on the 1916 American silver Half Dollar designed by American sculptor Adolph A. Weinman. The front side of the coin is that of the “Walking Liberty”.
The Silver American Eagle coin was introduced by the U.S. Mint on November 24, 1986. The very first coin was struck from the San Francisco mint that year. When the legislation was introduced to Congress, by Senator James A. McClure, it was so that the government could sell off and dispose of some of the silver it had in the Defense National Stockpile. This silver could be turned into Numismatic and legal tender (coins) and sold to the public starting from October1, 1985. The bill also authorized the bullion and coins to be minted by the Secretary of the Treasury. It became law on July 9, 1985 and signed by then President Ronald Reagan.
This program was later extended in 2002 because the silver stockpile was nearly depleted, as it was intended. An extension had to be made in order to continue the the program. This new legislation was proposed by Senator Harry Reid of Nevada. It was called the “Support of American Silver Bullion Program Act”. This piece of legislation allowed the Secretary of Treasury to acquire silver from the open market once the stockpile was fully depleted.
The face value of the coin is one US dollar, and is measured at 1 troy ounce. Each coin contains 99.9% pure silver. Although the face value of the coin is one dollar, the intrinsic value is different. The intrinsic value depends on the current spot price of the metal itself and the amount of metal it contains.
The Liberty Lady wears the American flag which creates a long flowing robe around her. The stars of the flag are seen behind and above her shoulder, with the stripes of the flag continuing down towards the bottom, completing her robe. She holds an olive branch tucked in her left arm. In the bottom left of the coin, you can see a sun with long reaching rays that represent the rising of the Republic. Just opposite the sun, on the right side, is the phrase “In God We Trust”. Just barely visible on the bottom edge of her robe on the coin’s right side, you will find the initials AW of the designer, Adolph Weinman.
The back side, or reverse of the coin was designed by John M. Mercanti , an American sculptor-engraver. This side of the coin displays an eagle with wings spread wide. He sits behind a shield, holding an olive branch in its right talon, and a group of arrows in the other. The initials of the designer, JM are visible below them. If there is a mint mark on the coin, it will be found under the eagle’s right talon. Floating above the head of the eagle are thirteen stars, which represent the original thirteen colonies that settled on the eastern United States. The eagle holds a sash in its mouth with the words “E Pluribus Unum”. Also on the back side of the coin are the words “United States of America” arching above the eagle and 1 oz. fine silver one dollar.
The American Silver Eagle coins are produced as four different types: Uncirculated, Proof, Burnished Uncirculated, and bullion.
Uncirculated coins are are made with a simple strike, or business strike which means that the coin’s dies are pressed only one time to create the coin. The uncirculated coins have no mint mark and are made at the West Point mint located in New York. They are released and sold to the public and are not intended to go into the regular money circulation.
The proof coin is polished with a mirror like finish. Unlike the uncirculated coin, the proof is pressed several times. The proof coin is used to check to make sure that the molding for the coin is perfect, and that there are no mistakes.
The burnished uncirculated is also pressed several times, but it’s finish is not polished. These coins do have a mint mark located on them.
These coins do have real value and can be purchased from on of the U.S. Mints or from a coin dealer. Uncirculated coins are graded as MS60 or higher by professional grading companies.
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