Posted by Collin Jung on 08 Nov 2018

American Eagle Silver Coins: A Comprehensive Guide for Investors and Collectors (2023 Update)


American Eagle silver coins are one of the most popular and recognized silver coins in the world. These coins are backed by the United States government and are considered legal tender. American Eagle silver coins are produced by the United States Mint, which is responsible for minting all official U.S. coins.

History of American Eagle silver coins

The genesis of the Silver American Eagle coin is traced back to the year 1985 when the Liberty Coin Act was signed into law, as part of the American Eagle bullion program. This landmark legislation empowered the United States Mint to create a silver bullion coin, designed specifically to provide American citizens with an accessible and affordable means of investing in gold, silver, and platinum bullion coins.

With the ink barely dry on the Liberty Coin Act, the American Silver Eagle made its debut in 1986, much to the delight of eager investors and collectors. The United States Mint swiftly commenced production, minting over 5 million coins in the inaugural year to meet the soaring demand for this prized piece of American craftsmanship. American Eagle silver coins are the most popular coin in this American Eagle bullion program and have been produced every year since 1986.

Design of American Eagle silver coins

The American Eagle silver owes its captivating appearance to the fusion of two iconic American coin designs. The obverse side showcases American sculptor Adolph A. Weinman's renowned "Walking Liberty" design, which originally graced the Walking Liberty Half Dollar from 1916 to 1947. It portrays an elegant Lady Liberty, with her shoulders draped with the American flag, striding confidently towards the rising sun, evoking notions of hope and freedom.

On the reverse side, a striking heraldic eagle design created by John Mercanti, former Chief Engraver of the United States Mint, takes center stage. Whereas the reverse side used to depict a symmetrical eagle, the change from 2021 onwards features an eagle clutching a shield, an olive branch in its right talon symbolizing peace, and arrows in its left talon signifying strength.

Minting & Purity of the American Silver Eagle coins

The American Silver Eagle boasts a composition that epitomizes purity and value. Each coin contains one troy ounce, equivalent to 31.1035 grams of .999 fine silver, guaranteeing a remarkable silver content of 99.9%. Though the coin carries a nominal face value of one U.S. dollar, its true worth is tied to the prevailing market value of silver.

On the left (obverse side) we see the monogram of Adolph A. Weinman, not a mintmark. On the right (reverse side) we see the mintmark "W" from West Point, showing where the coin was produced.

Bullion Coins

The American Eagle silver bullion coins do not have mintmarks. They are characterized by a matte finish and contain the monogram of Adolph Weinman on the obverse side of the coin.

These coins are intended for investors and are valued by the weight of the precious metals. These coins are generally sold through dealers, which the United States Mint refers to as " authorized purchasers".

Proof Coins

Proof coins are considered the finest quality of coins produced, being struck at least twice and being hand-polished, specially treated to be showcased and preserved. Proof coins have a matte, frosted-like foreground (Liberty) and a shiny, mirror-like background. The frosted foreground can also be called the "device", whereas the mirror-like shiny background can be referred to as the "field".

The proof coins of the American Eagle silver coins also have a very unique characteristic; their mintmark. Mintmarks distinguish the origin of each coin, with "S" representing San Francisco, California from 1986 to 1992, "P" denoting Philadelphia from 1993 to 200, and the mintmark signifying West Point with "W" from 2001 onward.

A notable exception occurred in 2009 when no proof versions of the Silver Eagle coins were minted. However, starting in 2010, the proof coins returned with minting operations once again at the West Point Mint, emphasizing the enduring quality and craftsmanship associated with these coins.

Reverse Proof & Enhanced Reverse Proof

Two examples of reverse proof coins with the "S" and "W" mintmark. These coins feature a shiny device and a matte field.


Whereas the proof coins are typically released every year, the reverse and enhanced reverse proof coins have special releases, meaning that their years vary(e.g. 2012,2019), making them more interesting and valuable for collectors.

As given in the name, the reverse and enhanced reverse design is the exact opposite of the original proof coin. They feature a shiny, mirror-like foreground and a matte, frosted background. The enhanced version simply implies more detail of the polished and matte effect.

Uncirculated Coins (Burnished)

In addition to the bullion and proof editions, the United States Mint also issued a collectible uncirculated Silver Eagle coin that also contains a mintmark Struck on specially burnished blanks yet has a matte-like appearance and also contains a certificate of authenticity.

Between 2006 and 2008, and then again in 2011, these coins were produced at the West Point Mint, clearly marked with the "W" mintmark. In 2011, a special burnished Eagle issue with the "S" mintmark was minted in San Francisco for the "American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin Set".

Differentiating between Proof Coins and Uncirculated Coins

On the left, we see the proof coin with a shiny background and on the right, we see the matte-finished uncirculated coins.


Whereas the Bullion coins are produced in tens of millions, there is a limited production of the proof and burnished silver coins, making them more collectors and numismatic coins. Since both proof coins and uncirculated coins have mintmarks and an official certificate of authenticity, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. Both coins are also sold to the general public from the United States Mint for a much higher premium over the spot.

Proof coins have a frosted foreground (Liberty) and a mirror-like background, whereas the uncirculated American silver eagle has a matte finish and looks very similar to the normal Bullion coin, however, the uncirculated coin has a mintmark on the right of the eagle on the reverse side.

Collecting American Eagle silver coins

Beyond its role as a bullion investment, the American Silver Eagle captivates the hearts of numismatists and collectors with its array of special editions. These coveted collector editions include proof coins, uncirculated coins, and unique commemorative releases, each possessing distinct designs and finishes. Often accompanied by limited mintages and packaged with exquisite care, these editions are sought after by enthusiasts and cherished for their artistry and exclusivity.

Collecting American Eagle silver coins is a popular hobby among coin enthusiasts. There are several ways to collect these coins, including by date, mint mark, and condition. Some collectors choose to collect a complete set of American Eagle silver coins, while others focus on collecting special editions and varieties.

Investing in American Eagle silver coins

Investing in American Eagle silver coins can be a profitable way to diversify your investment portfolio. These coins are recognized and respected around the world, which means that they can be easily bought and sold. American Eagle silver coins are also considered safe-haven asset, which means that they can provide a hedge against inflation and economic uncertainty.

Security Features of the American Eagle Coin

The missing notches on the reeded edge of American Silver Eagles from 2021

Incorporating intricate elements into a coin design aids in preventing counterfeiting. Increasing the complexity and demanding additional specialized tools makes the counterfeiting process more time-consuming and challenging. Consequently, the barriers to entry for counterfeiters are significantly elevated.

The silver coins contain certain anti-counterfeiting security features that can help when buying these coins:

Reeded Edge

The presence of reeds on the edges of a coin is a protective feature against counterfeiting and prevents the intentional filing or clipping of coins which was prevalent on medieval coins, which were thin and poorly minted. Unscrupulous actors would attempt to steal metal from the edge of the coin by shaving or clipping the coins' edges. 

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the introduction of the screw press revolutionized coin production in the Western world. This innovation was embraced by almost all mints, leading to the creation of coins with enhanced uniformity in terms of size and alignment. Coins were produced with reeded edges as an anti-counterfeit measure making any tampering immediately obvious.

Missing Notch

The American Eagle silver coins from 2021 onward have missing reeds or notches that help to identify if they are authentic. The 2021 has a missing reed at 6 o'clock on the obverse side, the 2022 at 7:30, and the 2023 at 9 o'clock. These missing reeds are on every American Eagle silver bullion coin.


When buying proof and uncirculated coins, make sure to research the location in which the year of the model was produced and that it has the appropriate mintmark on the reverse side of the coin.

Grading and authentication of American Eagle silver coins

Grading and authentication are important factors to consider when buying and selling American Eagle silver coins. Grading refers to the condition of the coin, which is determined by a professional grading service. Authentication ensures that the coin is genuine and has not been altered or counterfeited. Some reputable grading and authentication services include the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) and the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).


American Eagle silver coins are an excellent investment and collectible item for those interested in precious metals and numismatics. These coins are backed by the United States government and are considered legal tender. With their beautiful design, high purity, and excellent quality, American Eagle silver coins are a valuable addition to any collection or investment portfolio.


1. What is the current value of American Eagle silver coins?

The value of American Eagle silver coins fluctuates with the price of silver and other market factors. However, these coins generally trade at a premium above the current spot price of silver due to their quality, purity, and popularity. It is recommended to consult with a reputable coin dealer or do research on current market trends before buying or selling American Eagle silver coins.

2. Can American Eagle silver coins be used as currency?

While American Eagle silver coins are legal tender in the United States and have a face value of $1, they are not typically used as currency due to their collectible and investment value. However, in a crisis where paper currency may lose its value, silver coins could potentially be used as a form of currency.

3. How can I tell if my American Eagle silver coin is genuine?

To ensure that your American Eagle silver coin is genuine, it is recommended to buy from a reputable dealer or have the coin authenticated by a professional grading service such as PCGS or NGC. Additionally, you can check the weight, diameter, and thickness of the coin to make sure it matches the specifications of a genuine American Eagle silver coin.

4. Are there any special edition American Eagle silver coins?

Yes, there are several special edition American Eagle silver coins that have been produced over the years. These include proof coins, uncirculated coins, and burnished coins, as well as special edition coins to commemorate events such as the 10th anniversary of the American Eagle bullion program and the 20th anniversary of the American Eagle silver coin.

5. Where can I buy American Eagle silver coins?

American Eagle silver coins can be purchased from a variety of sources, including coin dealers, online marketplaces, and the United States Mint. It is important to do research and buy from a reputable source to ensure that you are getting a genuine coin at a fair price.

In conclusion, American Eagle silver coins are a valuable and attractive investment and collectible item. With their stunning design, high purity, and excellent quality, these coins have become one of the most popular silver coins in the world. Whether you are a collector or an investor, American Eagle silver coins are a great choice for anyone interested in precious metals and numismatics.

American Eagle silver coins are a popular investment and collectible item among numismatists and coin enthusiasts. These coins, which have been produced by the United States Mint since 1986, are known for their stunning design, high purity, and excellent quality. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history, design, value, and investment potential of American Eagle silver coins.