SCAM ALERT: LIACOO IS SELLING FAKE SILVER EAGLES!

Fake Silver Eagles

Two counterfeit American Silver Eagles purchased from LIACOO, a company based in China.

Last month I posted an article about a potential scam by a company named LIACOO selling American Silver Eagle coins from China. I ordered two coins to confirm my suspicion.

THE COINS ARE COUNTERFEIT! FAKES!

I ordered the coins on June 4, the day I posted the article. The coins were shipped from China to California to New Jersey to my office. LIACOO used the services of Newgistics, which is now a subsidiary of Pitney-Bowes. By using a logistics company in this manner, they can hide behind the anonymity of the service.

Contacting Pitney-Bowes is nearly impossible. I left a very public message on Twitter. Let’s see if they respond.

When the coins arrived, I opened the package and started to examine the contents. The coins are in a slab-like holder similar to the Coin World holders but without the Coin World logo. At first glance, they look fine, and then a closer look revealed problems.

My first impression was that there are almost no rims on the coin. A closer look at the obverse, and the font is too thin for the LIBERTY around the coin. Then I turned the coin over to focus on the U in United. It is missing the tail on the right side of the U. I did not need to see any more to be convinced this was a fake coin.

Finally, I removed the coin to weigh it. An American Silver Eagle is supposed to weigh just slightly more than one troy ounce because it is only .999 silver. Since my scale only measures grams to the tenths of ounces, it should have weighed 31.1 grams. It weighed 25 grams.

The coin is not magnetic.

I will investigate further, but I wanted to report my initial findings.

DO NOT BUY CHEAP EAGLES FROM RANDOM WEBSITES!

I bought these coins to prove my point. I knew I was potentially buying fakes. I spent less than $30 for education aids.

Unfortunately, two correspondents wrote to tell me they each bought ten coins from different dealers. They spent $19.95 per coin. Both lost over $200 with the shipping costs.

IF YOU CANNOT IDENTIFY THE DEALER, THEIR EXACT LOCATION, AND THEIR BUSINESS STATUS, THEN DO NOT BUY THEIR COINS!

LIACOO is a scam. It is a company based in China. DO NOT BUT FROM THEM!

SCAM ALERT: Beware of Cheap Silver Eagles

UPDATE: I BOUGHT TWO COINS FROM THIS COMPANY. THEY ARE FAKE, AS SUSPECTED. Read more → here!

If a deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

Device that could metallic analysis of a coin below the surface

Facebook users might have seen an advertisement trying to sell American Silver Eagle bullion coins for $9.99. DO NOT BUY FROM THAT ADVERTISEMENT. IT IS A SCAM!

The company is named LIACOO. Please note the two “ohs” because there is a legitimate company spelled with a single “oh.” LIACOO appears to be selling knock-off products made in China and representing them as genuine for less than market value.

A reader purchased five of these coins. After they arrived, this person said that something looked wrong and asked for help. The images that were sent makes the coins appear to be cast copies of American Silver Eagle coins. COUNTERFEITS!

First, you will NEVER find a legitimate seller sell American Silver Eagle for less than the wholesale price. You may be able to find someone who will round down your cost to the nearest dollar as a loss leader, but the price will never be more than 1-2% less than the spot price. The current spot price of silver is $17.84. If you find someone selling legitimate American Silver Eagle for $17.00-17.50, they will probably sell the coins to convince you to do further business with them. Otherwise, you may want to check the company further.

In this case, an examination of their website has no information about who they are.

  • There was no physical address.
  • There was no telephone number listed.
  • The site did not have a privacy policy required to do business with most of the world.
  • The site did not have any policies for shipping, returns, or customer service.
  • The pictures of legitimate monster boxes and roll containers were “borrowed” from another site.

There are two places where they provide contact information. On their FAQ page is an email address that uses a different domain. Contact information for the company’s domain name appears on one page that listed an email address, and that customer service was available between 9a and 5p HKT. HKT is the time zone abbreviation for Hong Kong Time.

If that was not enough to convince you that this deal is too good to be true, further research went into their Internet presence.

Their domain name registration shows that the name was purchased from a company in Guangdong, China, that appears to service small businesses. This service provider is reselling the services offered by Baidu. Baidu is a Chinese state-controlled search engine, sometimes called the Google of China. The Chinese government heavily regulates Baidu.

The website is hosted on servers owned by Alibaba. Alibaba is a China-based e-commerce conglomerate whose ties with the Chinese government is uncertain. Although founder Jack Ma has claimed to have no government ties, it is essential to remember that the Chinese government regulates everything and censor Internet traffic inside its borders.

Everything regarding their Internet presence confirms that they are a China-based company. Remember, many of the worst counterfeit coins have origins in China.

I provided the details of the clues I was looking for to help you understand how to spot a scammer. I went further by looking into their Internet presence since I have the background to understand the under-the-hood workings of the Internet. However, my examination of the website was enough to convince me not to buy the coins.

If anything about the offer makes you uneasy, then do not buy the coins. If you want me to look at the site, leave a message in the comment section below, or send me a note. “Let’s be careful out there.”

A Look at the American Eagles: The American Silver Eagles (UPDATED)

This is first article of a 4 part series:

NOTE: This is an updated article that was first published on September 18, 2018.

After the Coinage Act of 1965 removed silver from United States coinage, the federal government held the silver in the national stockpile. By the 1980s, the supply that far exceeded the needs of the national stockpile. Following several years of discussion that almost led to the bulk auction and sale of the silver, congress decided to use the silver to create a silver investment coin, the American Silver Eagle.

The American Silver Eagle program was so successful that following the depletion of the Defense National Stockpile in 2002, the original law was changed to continue the program by purchasing silver from U.S.-based mines at market prices to be used for future production.

American Silver Eagle Design

The obverse of the coin is the much-beloved design that was used on the Walking Liberty Half-Dollar coin from 1916 to 1947, designed by Adolph A. Weinman, a former student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The reverse features a heraldic eagle using a design by John Mercanti. Mercanti engraved both sides of the coin that including copying Weinman’s original design. Mercanti would later become the 12th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint.

American Silver Eagle Specifications
 Composition .999 Fine Silver
 Weight One Troy Ounce (31.103 grams)
 Diameter 40.6 mm (1.598 inches)
 Thickness 2.98 mm (0.1173 inches)
 Edge Reeded
 Face Value $1.00
 Designers Adolph A. Weinman (obverse), John Mercanti (reverse)
 Engraver John Mercanti

Bullion American Silver Eagle Coins

The American Silver Eagle program produces bullion coins for the investment market and collectible versions of these coins. As bullion coins, the U.S. Mint tries to eliminate the factors that drive the price of collectible coins (mintage, rarity, and condition) by making each coin the same. The U.S. Mint strikes American Silver Eagle to meet the market demand and can be stuck at any branch mint. Bullion coins do not have a mintmark.

The U.S. Mint does not sell bullion coins directly to the public. They sell the coins to “Authorized Purchasers,” who then resell the coins to the market. Although the American Silver Eagle bullion coins are produced for the investment market, some people collect these coins.

As with other investments, American Silver Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold. Please consult with a financial advisor or tax professional for any tax implications.

Mint of Origin for Bullion Coins

The U.S. Mint branch facility in West Point, New York, has been the primary manufacturer of American Silver Eagle bullion coins. Over the years, the mint facilities in San Francisco and Philadelphia have supplemented production.

Following an investigation, researchers learned that the U.S. Mint struck American Silver Eagle bullion coins at San Francisco and Philadelphia from 2011-2017. Some have tried to use shipping records from the U.S. Mint, shipping labels, packaging materials, and other means to try to investigate the origin of the coins.

In 2015, the industry thought they understand how to tell which Mint struck the coins. According to a statement issued by the U.S. Mint in 2018, the Philadelphia Mint produced 79,640 bullion coins. However, 140 coins were “condemned” and not issued. They shipped 79,500 coins to West Point for distribution to authorized purchasers. Although the boxes contain labels and serial numbers, there was no attempt made to separate the coins by Mint. Further, the U.S. Mint acknowledges that they identified cases of duplicate labels and tracking numbers written on the box. The information creates a reasonable doubt as to determine the manufacturer of the coins.

The third-party grading services believe they identified strike characteristics of the 2015 bullion coins that occurred at the Philadelphia Mint. They have encased American Silver Eagle bullion coins with labels noting their Philadelphia pedigree with no additional evidence.

In 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic caused the U.S. Mint branch at West Point to close temporarily. In order to keep up with production, the U.S. Mint struck 240,000 bullion coins in Philadelphia.

The third-party grading services asked the U.S. Mint about the production of these coins. Rather than leave the industry guessing, the U.S. Mint identified which boxes contained American Silver Eagle bullion coins struck in Philadelphia. The grading services are noting the origin of the bullion coin on the label of their slab.

Unlike the 2015(-P) coins, the 2020(-P) coins have an identifiable trail that leaves little doubt to the origin of the coins.

Collector American Silver Eagle Coins

The U.S. Mint produces collector versions of the American Silver Eagle are sold directly to the public in specialty packaging. The U.S. Mint sells American Silver Eagle proof coins in a specially made capsule stored in a blue velvet-covered case in a blue box with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Beginning in 2006, the U.S. Mint has produced an uncirculated business strike coin for the collector market. Most uncirculated American Silver Eagle collector coins are struck in West Point and bear the “W” mintmark. Uncirculated coins are burnished, a process by treating the surface with fine particles to give the surface a smooth, satin finish. The U.S. Mint sells these coins in a capsule with packaging that varies from year to year.

The U.S. Mint has produced coins with reverse proof and enhanced uncirculated finishes. A reverse proof coin is when the elements show a mirror-like appearance and the fields have a matte finish.

In 2009, the U.S. Mint was unprepared for the financial collapse that increased the demand for silver bullion coins. So that the U.S. Mint could produce the coins to meet the investor demand, the U.S. Mint did not produce collector American Silver Eagle coins. Although the American Silver Eagle proof coin returned to the market in 2010, the U.S. Mint did not produce uncirculated burnished coins.

American Silver Eagle collector coins returned in 2011.

OGP vs. GRADED

2018-W American Silver Eagle Proof in Original Government Package

Collector American Silver Eagle coins can be purchased either in their original government package or graded. When searching for coins that are in their original government packaging on most online auction sites, it is recommended that you add “OGP” as part of the search.

Dealers and collectors will remove the collector American Silver Eagle coins from their original government package in order to submit them to a third-party grading service for grading. Collectors who prefer the encapsulated coins are not concerned with the package. Some dealers will sell the package without the coin for a few dollars, but for collectors of graded coins, this is not a priority.

2007 Reverse Variety

In 2008, the U.S. Mint updated the reverse dies of the American Silver Eagle, giving it a slightly different appearance. The reverse die was only supposed to be used on collector American Silver Eagle coins in 2008 before being used for bullion coins in 2009.

As a result of the human factor required with operating the minting equipment at the West Point Mint, the reverse dies used for the 2007 American Silver Eagle coins were mated with 2008 collector coins creating a new variety for collectors. These coins are known as a 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety.

2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety
(Image courtesy of the Silver Eagle Guide)

The 1995-W

Tenth Anniversary American Eagle Set

In 1995, the U.S. Mint created the 10th Anniversary American Eagle set to celebrate the program’s decade. The set contained a 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin that was made available only to collectors buying the set. Collectors wanting to add the 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin to their collection had to purchase the entire five-coin set that included four American Gold Eagle proof coins ($5, $10, $25, and $50 gold American Eagles). The $999 price for the set helped limit the number of coins sold.

As gold prices have risen, collectors sold the gold coins separately. However, the limited availability has caused the 1995-W American Silver Eagle to rise significantly on the secondary market. Cost to purchase this coin averages about $5,000-6, depending on the grade and finding the entire set with the American Gold Eagle coins in their original government package averages over $8,000.

Special Sets

The Philadelphia SetIn 1993, the U.S. Mint offered The Philadelphia Set, which was issued to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the striking of the first official U.S. coins at the Philadelphia Mint. This set included each of the Proof American Gold and Silver Eagles struck at the Philadelphia Mint and containing the “P” mintmark. The set included a 1993-P Proof Silver Eagle along with the one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce 1993-P Proof Gold Eagles. Also included was a silver Philadelphia Bicentennial Medal, which specially produced for this numismatic product.

To mark the launch of the new American Platinum Eagle bullion and collector coin series, the U.S. Mint offered the 1997 Impressions of Liberty Set. This set contained the one ounce 1997-W Proof Platinum Eagle, one ounce 1997-W Proof Gold Eagle, and one ounce 1997-P Proof Silver Eagle. Production was limited to 5,000 individually numbered units. The serial number for each set was engraved on a brass plate affixed to the wooden display case.

In 2004, the U.S. Mint worked with the United Kingdom’s Royal Mint to create a numismatic product containing the silver bullion coins from each country. The Legacies of Freedom Set contained one 2003 American Silver Eagle bullion coin and one 2002 British Silver Britannia bullion coin. The special packaging highlighted the importance of the two national icons.

To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the 220th Anniversary of the United States Mint, the two bureaus joined together to release the 2012 Making American History Coin and Currency Set. The set contained a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a $5 note with a serial number beginning in “150.”

As part of the 2016 Ronald Reagan Coin and Chronicles Set the U.S. Mint included a 2016 Proof American Silver Eagle along with a 2016 Ronald Reagan Presidential reverse proof dollar, and a Nancy Reagan Bronze Medal. To complete the set, it included a presidential portrait produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an informational booklet about President Reagan.

In 2019, the U.S. Mint partnered with the Royal Canadian Mint to issue the Pride of Two Nations silver coin set. The set contained a reverse proof American Silver Eagle struck at West Point and a reverse proof Silver Maple Leaf struck at the Royal Canadian Mint’s facility in Ottawa, Ontario. Production was limited to 100,000 sets in the United States and 10,000 sets in Canada.

Later in 2019, the U.S. Mint released an Enhanced Reverse Proof coin struck at the San Francisco Mint. Its mintage limit of 30,000 coins is less than the number of 1995-W coins issued.

Annual Sets

To extend the product line, the U.S. Mint began to create special annual issue sets to entice people to collect U.S. Mint products. The first annual set containing an American Silver Eagle coin was the Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set. First offered in 2007, the set includes the issued uncirculated Presidential dollar coins, an uncirculated Native American dollar coin, and an uncirculated American Silver Eagle. Since the Presidential Dollar Program ended in 2016, it is unclear whether the U.S. Mint will issue the set in 2017.

Since 2012, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Limited Edition Silver Proof Set that contains 90% silver versions of the year’s five America the Beautiful Quarters, Kennedy Half Dollar, and Roosevelt Dime, along with the standard annual Proof American Silver Eagle. Sets are limited to 50,000 units annually.

Starting in 2013, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Congratulations Set as part of a new line of products targeted towards gift-giving occasions. The set includes the standard annual Proof Silver Eagle within specially designed packaging that allows the gift giver to add a personalized message.

Anniversary Sets

2011 American Silver Eagle 25th Anniversary Set

Since the American Eagle Program has been one of the most successful programs in the history of the U.S. Mint, they have used its popularity to extend the product line. Aside from celebrating the anniversary of the program, the U.S. Mint has produced anniversary sets to celebrate Mint facilities.

The Anniversary sets issued are as follows:

  • 1995 American Eagle 10th Anniversary Set included a 1995-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin and four American Gold Eagle coins.
  • 2006 20th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a special three-coin box set included a 2006-W American Silver Eagle with a burnished (satin) finish, a 2006-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin, and a 2006-P American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin.
  • 2011 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a five-coin box set that contained five different coins. The U.S. Mint produced only 100,000 sets that sold out within the first 10 minutes they were offered online. This extremely popular set is averaging $800 on the secondary market in the original government package. The set includes the following coins:
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-S (San Francisco) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Proof coin
    • 2011-P (Philadelphia) American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin
    • 2011 (no mintmark) American Silver Eagle Bullion coin
  • 2012 American Eagle San Francisco Two Coin Silver Proof Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the current San Francisco Mint. The set included a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof Coin.
  • 2013 West Point American Silver Eagle Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the facility in West Point, New York. The set included a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin and a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Enhanced Uncirculated coin. The set was instantly popular with collectors since it was the first appearance of the Enhanced Uncirculated finishing process.

Although the U.S. Mint did not issue a set to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the American Silver Eagle in 2016, West Point struck proof and burnished uncirculated collector coins with edge lettering that read “30TH ANNIVERSARY.”

Rolls and the Green Monster Box

Bullion coins are packaged in 20-coin hard plastic rolls with 25 rolls packed in a specially designed green box that contains 500 troy ounces of silver. The U.S. Mint seals the box before shipping them to authorized purchasers. The term Green Monster Box refers to the green box with 500 silver coins.

Resellers sell Green Monster Boxes with the intent of selling to investors. Resellers also sell unopened rolls from the Monster Box.

Sealed Green Monster Boxes have the benefit of being unsearched and unhandled since leaving the U.S. Mint. These boxes are usually offered for sale by bullion dealers at a small premium over the current market (spot) price of silver. Unsealed Monster Boxes with the U.S. Mint’s labels intact can attest to the authenticity of the coins.

In the next installment, we look at the American Gold Eagle coins.

All images courtesy of the U.S. Mint unless otherwise noted.

Weekly World Numismatic News for May 10, 2020

2020 American Eagle Silver Bullion CoinIs it Sunday already?

This past week, the numismatic world was greeted with the news that the Philidelphia Mint struck a limited number of American Silver Eagle bullion coins to help fill the demand.

Most of the production of the American Silver Eagle bullion coins are in the West Point Mint. Sometimes, the San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints add capacity when necessary, with San Francisco being the priority. Since the West Point and San Francisco Mints temporarily closed because of the effects of COVID-19, Philadelphia picked up the slack.

The U.S. Mint produces all bullion coins without mintmarks. In most cases, it is impossible to tell which mint struck the coins. An exception is the 2015 (P) American Silver Eagles. Collectors and the grading services have been trying to figure out where the green monster boxes came from by examining the serial number and other clues. In 2015, Philadelphia struck just under 80,000 bullion coins. Those handling monster boxes noticed a difference in the packaging and quality.

According to the U.S. Mint, “Monster boxes of 2020 American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins minted in Philadelphia were affixed with a typed label containing the box tracking number; additionally, box tracking numbers were handwritten directly on the boxes. Box tracking numbers 400,000 through and including 400,479 were used on boxes of coins minted in Philadelphia.”

The 480 monster boxes translate into about 240,000 coins.

With that knowledge, the third-party grading services will add a special label noting that the coins were struck at Philidelphia only if the monster box sent for grading has the proper label and seal.

Of course, the price gougers are out in force. Most reputable companies are selling MS-70 graded “emergency” coins at around $250. That is about $200 over a “First Strike” or “Early Release” graded coins. One online seller is offering a pre-sale of the “emergency release” coins in MS-70 PCGS slabs with John Mercanti autographs for $595.

Coins graded MS-69 are selling for $75-80, which is $40-45 over other MS-69 graded coins.

Remember, if the listing says “pre-sale” it means that the seller does not have the coins in inventory.

And now the news…

 May 6, 2020
With central banks spraying unprecedented amounts of printed money at the global economic system, it’s little wonder the gold price soared by 18% in the six weeks following the stockmarket meltdown. All the extra money sloshing around means the chances that consumer price inflation will take off and erode the value of your cash have risen sharply.  → Read more at theweek.co.uk

 May 6, 2020
(Kitco News) – The last time the U.S. Mint sold this many platinum coins, President Bill Clinton was being tried by the U.S. Senate and Spongebob SquarePants was premiering on Nickelodeon. As of last month, the U.S. Mint said sales of the 1 oz platinum Eagle in 2020 reached 56,500 oz.  → Read more at kitco.com

 May 8, 2020
A veritable gold mine of silver coins which had been hastily stashed inside a church in a ceramic jug hidden by a blind Polish priest over 300 years ago has been unearthed by workers removing rotting floorboards in the blind priest’s former church.  → Read more at thevintagenews.com
Coin Collectors News
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DON’T BUY COINS ON TELEVISION!

Over the years, I have heard from many people regarding the problems with mailorder numismatics. Every few months, someone writes and asks about the value of something they bought from a non-numismatic magazine or from something they saw on television.

My answers tend to be upsetting because the market does not value these items as the television hucksters do.

Recently, I wrote about the experience with someone who brought in a box of coins he bought from television and magazines. I described his reaction as “The look on his face when I told him was as if I kicked his dog.” Then I was provided an example of why my words land very hard.

Sunday’s are my day off. Even though I have personal work to catch up on, I will play couch potato and watch television. This past Sunday, I entered the wrong number in the remote and landed on the Fox Business channel.

On the weekend, when the markets are not open, the business channels broadcast other programming. At this time, Fox Business was airing an infomercial for Coins TV.

When I tuned in, the camera was panning a display with graded American Silver Eagle coins. Of course, I stopped to stare at the shiny silver coins. Then I heard the pitch.

The pitchman is Rick Tomaska, owner of Rare Collectibles TV. Tomaska seemed pleasant and appeared knowledgable. His pitch was selling a date run of American Silver Eagle graded MS-69 by NGC for $1,995.00. It almost seemed reasonable until it was made clear that the pitch was for a date run of 31 coins from 1986-2016.

Is $1,995.00 a good deal for the 31 coins? My first instinct was to check the price guides. Since the online Greysheet does not include the retail price for graded bullion coins (why?), I used two other guides: Numismedia Fair Market Value Price Guide and the price guide from NGC. Based on a grade of MS-69, the guides provided the following information based on prices for the 1986-2016 34-coin set:

  Numismedia FMV
34 coins @ MS-69
NGC Price Guide
34 coins @ MS-69
RCTV Infomercial
31 coins @ MS-69
Total $1,240.00 $1,679.00 $1,995.00
Average $40.00 $54.16 $64.35

But Numismedia and NGC are price guides. Guides are not the retail prices a collector would pay. So we turn to the interwebs to search for “date run American Silver Eagle coins.” The search returned several entries on the first page that was not RCTV.

Taking the top three entries from the search, only one dealer was sold out. The others offered a complete set of 34 coins, 1986-2019, graded MS-69 by NGC for considerably less than Tomaska’s price. To be fair, where there was a difference between the cash and credit prices, I used the credit card price, which is usually higher. Then I searched eBay and sorted for the lowest price. The following is what I found:

Company Date Run Coins in Set Advertised Price Shipping Average per coin
RCTVcoins.com 1986‑2016 31 $1995.00   $64.35
JM Bullion 1986‑2019 34 $1541.70   $45.34
Mint Products.com 1986‑2019 34 $1399.99   $41.18
eBay Seller constitutionclct 1986‑2019 34 $1299.00 $14.95 $38.65

For the eBay dealer who was charging for shipping, the cost per coin was the lowest even after adding the shipping costs to the total price.

JM Bullion and Mint Products.com are reputable companies. Both firms are worth considering if you do not feel comfortable making this purchase from an eBay seller. Note that these companies will base the price of their bullion coins on the current spot price of silver. Their retail prices may fluctuate.

When you buy from these television advertisements, you will overpay.

To help enforce the issue, the JM Bullion website said that they would buy a complete date set of American Silver Eagle bullion coins for $1,094.12 when I looked up the price. If you purchased the set advertised on television, you would be LOSING $900!

As part of the pitch, if you ordered the set, Tomaska would send a copy of the 4th Edition of American Silver Eagle: A Guide to the U.S. Bullion Coin Program autographed by Miles Standish, the book’s co-author, who was present with Tomaska.

What is sad is that Miles Standish joined Tomaska as part of this infomercial. Although Standish did not assist Tomaska in his pitch for the set, his presence is an appearance of legitimacy. It is similar to the appearance of past ANA President David Ganz on an infomercial. Neither endorsed the product that was being sold, but their presence was used to suggest otherwise.

I would not recommend buying coins or any collectible from a television show. Every collectible I have seen being hawked on television was 45-60 percent over what might be considered wholesale value for its market.

As a small business owner, I would be foolish to criticize someone for making a profit. It’s the Ameican way. However, there is a difference between making a profit and price gouging. It is why I am warning you against purchasing collectibles from a pitch on television.

All images are screen shots taken using an external camera. Use of images are permitted and protected under the Fair Use Doctrine (17 U.S.Code §107).

Weekly World Numismatic News for November 17, 2019

American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof CoinThe biggest numismatic-related news of the week that not reported in many media outlets. It was the failure of the U.S. Mint to deal with a high volume of orders for what everyone anticipated would be a popular product.

On November 14, 2019, the numismatic community rushed to the U.S. Mint website. It flooded their call center attempting to purchase the 2019 American Eagle One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin. As with almost all of their past launches, the U.S. Mint e-commerce systems failed the collecting community.

Collectors reported web failures, outages, and disconnection on the telephone trying to order the product. I was first alerted of a problem by a family member and my mailbox filled with readers who experienced similar issues.

After hearing the criticism, the U.S. Mint issued the following statement:

At the moment of launch, there were 99,000 people online and 4700 callers waiting to purchase the American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin (19XE). Completed orders were processed until all inventory was sold. We are constantly seeking feedback from our customers, and rest assured your voice is being heard.

To try to spin this further, on Friday, the U.S. Mint issued the following statement:

Yesterday, the Mint catalog website had more than 150,000 unique visitors and 1.6 million page views in the first hour of sales of the American Eagle 2019 One Ounce Silver Enhanced Reverse Proof Coin (19XE). For context, the catalog website’s previous highest traffic and page views were for the Apollo 11 product launch, when we had 124,000 visitors in one day and 863,000 page views in one hour. We are pleased with the numismatic community’s response to this product. The volume of traffic did briefly slow down our site response. However, after the first two minutes we were able to process over 1800 orders per minute on average. Completed orders were processed until all inventory was sold. Additionally, we identified approximately 5% of traffic as coming from bots, including 3% of traffic from a single IP address, of which zero orders were processed.

With all due respect to the U.S. Mint, if this is beyond your capacity, then the competence of the Mint and their contractor (aren’t they contracted with Pitney-Bowes?) are in question. There are e-commerce systems that have higher capacity requirements and service their customers better.

The failure of their e-commerce system is not a new problem for the U.S. Mint. We can go back through the history of this blog to note how badly they have implemented their e-commerce systems.

Frankly, I am not surprised. Years ago, when I was a contractor within the Department of the Treasury, I had to listen to how the U.S. Mint’s systems were built to be greater and better than anyone else in the department. Their technology directors touted their capacity and their capabilities over all the other bureaus. They used these reasons to allow them to separate themselves and to avoid integration with other systems, even suggesting that they be the central integrators for the department.

Even though I have not worked within the Treasury Department in many years, the results and the spin published by their public relations department demonstrates that the chutzpah continues.

For four years, the U.S. Mint has been holding forums to try to learn from collectors what they expect. One thing they have not learned is to fix the mechanisms that provide collector access to U.S. Mint products. It is time for the U.S. Mint to stop talking and do something. Their problems have surpassed annoying and are bordering on malfeasance!

And now the news…

 November 12, 2019
We all have them, worth almost nothing, but still can be useful. They are the little button-sized ¢5 coins that fill up your pockets or coin jar, that the Banco Central (Central Bank) will stop minting starting January 1, 2020.  → Read more at qcostarica.com

 November 12, 2019
LOWELL, Mich. — When 43-year-old Jason Faraj entered Collector’s Korner in Lowell, the smooth-talking antiques aficionado gained the trust of the store owner and left with more than $5,700 in merchandise.  → Read more at wzzm13.com
Coin Collectors News
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A Look at the American Eagles: The New American Palladium Eagles

Collecting American Palladium Eagles

This is last article of a 4 part series:
  1. American Silver Eagles
  2. American Gold Eagles
  3. American Platinum Eagles
  4. American Palladium Eaglesyou are here

The American Palladium Eagle coin is the newest addition to the American Eagle program. The bill to create the program was introduced by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), the representative-at-large from Montana. Montana is home of the Stillwater Mining Company, the only producer of palladium in the United States. Stillwater also owns platinum mines that supply the U.S. Mint with platinum for American Eagle Bullion coins.

In the world of metal investing, palladium is behind gold, silver, and platinum in demand. Palladium is not as popular in the United States as it is in other countries. Palladium sells better than silver in Canada and Europe. It is rarer than gold, but a little more abundant than platinum but has the silky look of platinum while being almost as ductile as silver. Artists in Europe and Asia are beginning to use palladium instead of platinum for their higher-end designs.

The American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act (Public Law 111-303) originally requested that the secretary study the feasibility of striking palladium coins and mint them if the study shows a market demand. Although the study showed that there is a market, it was not overwhelming. Based on the wording of the law, the U.S. Mint opted not to strike palladium coins.

In December 2015, Rehberg added an amendment to the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or the FAST Act (Public Law 114-94, 129 STAT. 1875, see Title LXXXIII, Sect. 73001) that took away the U.S. Mint’s option. The first American Palladium Eagle bullion coins were struck in 2017.

Source of Metals

The law requires that the U.S. Mint purchase palladium from United States sources at market values. It allows the U.S. Mint to purchase palladium from other sources to meet market demands.

A difference between the authorizing law for the American Palladium Eagle and other coins in the American Eagle program is that there is no requirement for the U.S. Mint to produce proof coins. It will be up to the U.S. Mint to determine whether there is a collector demand and strike proof coins accordingly. How this differs from the rest of the American Eagle program will be tested the next time metals experience high investor demand.

The American Palladium Eagle Design

By law, the obverse of the American Palladium Eagle coin features a high-relief likeness of the “Winged Liberty” design used on the obverse of Mercury Dime. It is an acclaimed classical design as created by Adolph A. Weinman.

The law requires that the reverse used to bear a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal. The AIA medal was also designed by Weinman. It is the first time that this design is featured on a legal tender coin.

American Palladium Eagle coins are made from one troy ounce of .9995 palladium. The balance is copper. These coins are produced so that each coin states its weight and fineness and has a denomination of $25.

Bullion American Palladium Eagle Coins

The American Palladium Eagle program produces bullion and collectible coins. The bullion coins can be stuck at any branch mint but do not have a mintmark. Bullion coins are sold in bulk to special dealers who then sell it to retailers. They are struck for the investment market.

Although some people do collect bullion coins there are not produced for the collector market. As with other investments, American Palladium Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold and may be held in Individual Retirement accounts. Please consult your financial advisor or tax professional for the tax implications for your situation.

Collector American Palladium Eagle Coins

Collector coins are produced and sold by the U.S. Mint in specialty packaging directly to the public. Collectors can purchase new coins directly from the U.S. Mint and find these coins online. Collector American Palladium Eagle coins are produced only as proof coins.

The U.S. Mint began selling American Palladium Eagle Proof coins in 2018 with a limited production of 15,000 coins. The coins sold by the U.S. Mint are stored in a specially made capsule and that capsule is placed in a package similar to that used for other coins in the American Eagle program.

Since this program is new, there have been no special issues or the discovery of errors. As time passes, that will likely change.

Images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

A Look at the American Eagles: The American Platinum Eagles

This is third article of a 4 part series:
  1. American Silver Eagles
  2. American Gold Eagles
  3. American Platinum Eaglesyou are here
  4. American Palladium Eagles

The Platinum American Eagle coins were an addition to the American Eagle bullion program to satisfy the needs of the domestic platinum mining industry. Work to create the program began in 1995 with Platinum Guild International Executive Director Jacques Luben working with Director of the United States Mint Philip N. Diehl and American Numismatic Association President David L. Ganz to pursue the appropriate legislation.

As with a lot of legislation, it was added to an omnibus appropriations bill (Public Law 104-208 in Title V) passed on September 30, 1996. Since the bill was necessary to keep the government functioning, it was signed by President Bill Clinton that same day.

The first platinum coins were issued in 1997.

Platinum American Eagle coins are the only bullion coins struck by the U.S. Mint that use a different reverse design for the proof coins than the uncirculated bullion coins. The reverse of the proof coins featured different themes that have largely gone unnoticed by collectors. Beginning in 2018, the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence series will introduce all new designs for both the obverse and reverse of the proof coin.

American Platinum Eagle Design

The obverse design of the American Platinum Eagle features a front-facing view of the Statue of Liberty from the shoulders designed by John Mercanti. Mercanti also designed the obverse of the 1986 Statue of Liberty Commemorative Silver Dollar.

The reverse features a bald eagle soaring above the earth with a rising sun in the background. It was designed by Thomas D. Rodgers Sr. The reverse also includes the weight of the coin and its denomination.

The reverse designs of the proof coins were by different artists and discussed below.

American Platinum Eagle Coins are offered in four different sizes with each size being of different legal tender face value. The different coins are as follows:

  • One-ounce American Platinum Eagle: $100 face value, is 32.7 mm in diameter, contains one troy ounce of platinum and weighs 1.0005 troy ounces,
  • One-half ounce American Platinum Eagle: $50 face value, is 27 mm in diameter, contains 0.5000 troy ounce of platinum and weighs 0.5003 troy ounce,
  • One-quarter ounce American Platinum Eagle: $25 face value, is 22 mm in diameter, contains 0.2500 troy ounce of platinum and weighs 0.2501 troy ounce,
  • One-tenth ounce American Platinum Eagle: $10 face value, is 16.5 mm in diameter, contains 0.1000 troy ounce of platinum and weighs 0.1001 troy ounce.

All coins are struck with reeded edges.

Each coin is made from .9995 platinum. The composition is comprised of 99.95% platinum and 0.05% of an unspecified metal, likely copper. American Platinum Eagle coins are produced so that each size contains its stated weight in pure platinum. This means that the coins are heavier than their pure platinum weight to account for the other metals in the alloy.

Bullion American Platinum Eagle Coins

The American Platinum Eagle program produces bullion and collectible coins. The bullion coins can be stuck at any branch mint but does not have a mintmark. Bullion coins are sold in bulk to special dealers who then sell it to retailers. They are struck for the investment market.

Although some people do collect bullion coins there are not produced for the collector market. As with other investments, American Platinum Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold and may be held in Individual Retirement accounts. Please consult your financial advisor or tax professional for the tax implications for your situation.

Bullion coins of all four weights were struck from 1997-2008. Beginning in 2014, the U.S. Mint has only struck the one-ounce $100 American Platinum Eagle for the bullion market.

Collector American Platinum Eagle Coins

Collector coins are produced and sold by the U.S. Mint in specialty packaging directly to the public. Collectors can purchase new coins directly from the U.S. Mint and find these coins online. Collector American Platinum Eagle are different from other coins in the American Eagle series in that every year they are produced the U.S. Mint struck them in different designs and are only available as proof strikes.

In addition to the changing designs, the U.S. Mint sold uncirculated coins with a burnished (satin) finish using the design of the business (bullion) coins were struck 2006-2008 at West Point in all four weights.

The collector American Platinum Eagle may be one of the most under-appreciated series of coins produced by the U.S. Mint. Since its introduction in 1997, the U.S. Mint has produced four series of proof coins with the reverse honoring different aspects of the nation with plans for two more beginning in 2018 and 2021.

What distinguishes these coins are the well-executed reverse designs that few get to see or pay attention. It may be difficult for the average collector to consider collecting these coins because of the price of platinum has been either on par or higher than the price of gold. Also, platinum is not as well regarded as gold or silver as a precious metal causing it to be overlooked.

Following the proof coins issued in 1997 with the design used on the bullion coin, the reverse design has featured the following themes:

  • Vistas of Liberty Reverse Designs (1998-2003):
    • 1998 Eagle Over New England
    • 1999 Eagle Above Southeastern Wetlands
    • 2000 Eagle Above America’s Heartland
    • 2001 Eagle Above America’s Southwest
    • 2002 Eagle Fishing in America’s Northwest
    • 2003 Eagle Perched on Rocky Mountain Pine Branch
  • 2004 Proof reverse design: Daniel Chester French’s “America” that sits before the U.S. Customs House in New York City.
  • 2005 Proof reverse Design: Heraldic Eagle
  • Branches of Government Series:
    • 2006 “Legislative Muse” representing Legislative Branch
    • 2007 “American Bald Eagle” representing Executive Branch
    • 2008 “Lady Justice” representing Judicial Branch
  • Preamble Series (2009–2014):
    • 2009 “To Form a More Perfect Union”
    • 2010 “To Establish Justice”
    • 2011 “To Insure Domestic Tranquility”
    • 2012 “To Provide for the Common Defence”
    • 2013 “To Promote the General Welfare”
    • 2014 “To Secure the Blessings of Liberty to Ourselves and our Posterity”
  • Nations Core Values (2015-2016):
    • 2015 “Liberty Nurtures Freedom”
    • 2016 “Liberty and Freedom”
  • 2017 depicted the original reverse designed by Thomas D. Rodgers Sr.

Beginning in 2018, the U.S. Mint will introduce two themes that will feature new obverse designs with a new common reverse with the following themes:

  • 2018-2020 Preamble to the Declaration of Independence Series
    • 2018 “Life”
    • 2019 “Liberty”
    • 2020 “Pursuit of Happiness”
  • 2021-2025 Five Freedoms Guaranteed Under the First Amendment Series
    • 2021 “Freedom of Religion,”
    • 2022 “Freedom of Speech,”
    • 2023 “Freedom of the Press,”
    • 2024 “Freedom to assemble peaceably,”
    • 2025 “Freedom to Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances.”

Tenth Anniversary American Platinum Eagle Set

As part of the Tenth Anniversary of the American Platinum Eagle, the U.S. Mint issued a special set to celebrate this milestone. The set featured two one-half ounce platinum proof coins using the American Bald Eagle design representing Executive Branch by Thomas Cleveland and was struck at the West Point Mint. One was struck as a standard proof with mirrored fields and frosted designs. The other was struck as a reverse proof with mirrored designs and frosted fields.

The set was announced November 2007 and scheduled to go on sale in mid-December. and remain on sale until December 31, 2008, with several interruptions.

During the sale, the price of platinum greatly fluctuated. At one point the price of platinum was greater than the price of the set. The U.S. Mint had suspended the sale of the coins in February 2008. They were priced higher when they were offered for sale again a month later. Sales were suspended again when the price of platinum fell dramatically. When the coins were brought back for sale, their final price was less than the set’s initial offer price.

Although the U.S. Mint set a maximum mintage of 30,000 sets, the final sales figure showed they sold 19,583 sets.

2007 “Frosted Freedom” Variety

For a very low production series that is handled differently than other coins, it is unusual for there to be a variety or error. In 2011, the Numismatic Guarantee Corporation announced that they certified a variety that was given the name “Frosted Freedom.”

On the proof strike of the 2007 American Platinum Eagle coin with the bald eagle design to celebrate the executive branch of the government, there is a shield in front of the eagle’s breast. Draped across the shield is a ribbon with the word “FREEDOM”. On the coins issued in 2007, the incuse word “FREEDOM” has the same mirrored finish as found on the coin’s fields. On the variety found by NGC, the word appears frosted with the same finish found on the coin’s raised devices.

In a statement by the U.S. Mint, these coins were pre-production strikes that had been inadvertently released into the production stream. They were struck to verify the look of the coin.

According to the U.S, Mint, the total number of “Frosted Freedom” coins potentially distributed to collectors includes 12 one-ounce coins, 21 half-ounce coins, and 21 quarter-ounce coins. As this is being written, only two one-ounce, one half-ounce, and one quarter-ounce coin have been certified by the major grading services.

In our next installment, we look at the American Palladium Eagles.

All images courtesy of the U.S. Mint.

A look at the American Eagles: The American Gold Eagles

This is second article of a 4 part series:

During the debate of the law that created the American Silver Eagle program, the gold mining interests began to lobby congress to pass a bill to allow the U.S. Mint to mint bullion coins using gold mined in the United States. A few months later, congress passed the Gold Bullion Coin Act of 1985 that created the American Eagle Gold Bullion Program.

The key provisions of the Gold Bullion Coin Act are that the gold used in the coins be purchased from United States mining sources at prevailing market value and that the coins would be produced using 22-karat gold. It was decided to produce the using 22-karat gold to allow the U.S. Mint to compete with the Krugerrand, which was produced using 22-karat gold.

American Gold Eagle Design

The obverse of the coin used the design of the $20 Double Eagle coin designed by Augusts Saint-Gaudens. This design is considered by many the most beautiful of all coins produced by the U.S. Mint.

The reverse features a male bald eagle carrying an olive branch flying above a nest containing a female eagle and her hatchlings. It was designed by Miley Frances Busiek.

American Gold Eagle Coins are offered in four different sizes with each size being of different legal tender face value. The different coins are as follows:

  • One ounce American Gold Eagle: $50 face value, is 1.287 inches (32 mm) in diameter, contains one troy ounce of gold and weighs 1.0909 troy ounces,
  • One-half ounce American Gold Eagle: $25 face value, is 1.063 inches (27 mm) in diameter, contains 0.5000 troy ounce of gold and weighs 0.5455 troy ounce,
  • One-quarter ounce American Gold Eagle: $10 face value, is 0.866 inch (22 mm) in diameter, contains 0.2500 troy ounce of gold and weighs 0.2727 troy ounce,
  • One-tenth ounce American Gold Eagle: $5 face value, is 0.650 inch (16.5 mm) in diameter, contains 0.1000 troy ounce of gold and weighs 0.1091 troy ounce.

All coins are struck with reeded edges.

Each coin is made from 22-karat gold. The composition is comprised of 91.67% gold, 3% silver, and 5.33% copper. The coins are produced so that each size contains its stated weight in pure gold. This means that the coins are heavier than their pure gold weight to account for the silver and copper.

Bullion American Gold Eagle Coins

The American Gold Eagle program produces bullion and collectible coins. The bullion coins can be stuck at any branch mint but does not have a mintmark. Bullion coins are sold in bulk to special dealers who then sell it to retailers. They are struck for the investment market.

Although some people do collect bullion coins they are not produced or marketed for the collector market. As with other investments, American Gold Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold. Please consult your financial advisor or tax professional for the tax implications for your situation.

It is important to note that there have been attempts to determine where the bullion coins have been struck. Collectors have tried to use shipping records from the U.S. Mint, shipping labels, and other means to try to investigate the origin of the coins. Although some believe that these methods have identified some coins, the U.S. Mint has said that the shipping records that are being relied upon are not correct and do not reliably show the branch mint of origin.

Collector American Gold Eagle Coins

Collector coins are produced and sold by the U.S. Mint in specialty packaging directly to the public. Collectors can purchase new coins directly from the U.S. Mint and find these coins online. Collector American Gold Eagle coins are produced only as proof coins.

American Gold Eagle Poof coins are sold individually or in a four-coin set. The coins sold by the U.S. Mint are stored in a specially made capsule and that capsule is placed in a special folder-like packaging. The folders are distributed in a brown box with a Certificate of Authenticity.

OGP vs. GRADED

2018-W American Gold Eagle Proof in Original Government Package

Collector American Gold Eagle uncirculated coins can be purchased either in their original government package or graded. When searching for coins that are in their original government packaging it is recommended that you add “OGP” as part of the search.

Collector American Gold Eagle coins may have been removed from its original government package in order to be sent to a third-party grading service for grading. Most of the time, the original government package may have been discarded. Some dealers will sell the package without the coin for a few dollars, but for collectors of graded coins, this is not a priority.

1999-W Bullion Eagles Struck with Unfinished Proof Dies

In 1999, there was an incredible demand for gold bullion. In the rush to produce $5 one-tenth ounce and $10 one-quarter ounce bullion coins to satisfy market demand, the West Point Mint mistakenly struck coins using unfinished dies made that were supposed to be for proof coins.

These dies were considered unfinished because they did not receive their final finishing treatment that would be used for proof coins.

As a result, about 4,000-6,000 American Gold Eagle 1999 bullion coins were struck with the "W" mintmark and the higher relief of proof coins.  Since most of these coins may be in bullion holdings, experts are not sure how rare these coins may be. However, few have been seen for sale on the secondary market.

SPECIAL SETS

Tenth Anniversary American Eagle Set

As part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the American Eagle program, the U.S. Mint created the 10th Anniversary American Eagle set. The set contained a four 1995-W American Gold Eagle Proof coins (one-tenth, one-quarter, one-half, and one troy ounce coins) and a 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin. This set is significant for the 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin since it was not made available to collectors not buying the set.

Most of the sets have been split up to take advantage of the fluctuating metal prices and the rarity of the 1995-W American Silver Eagle. Finding the entire set with the American Gold Eagle coins and the American Silver Eagle Proof coin in the original government package can set you back $8,000 and higher.

Twentieth Anniversary American Eagle Set

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the American Eagle bullion program, the U.S. Mint issued two different using gold coins in celebration.

The American Gold Eagle three-coin 20th Anniversary Set contained three coins: a 2006-W Proof Gold Eagle, a 2006-W Uncirculated Gold Eagle, and a 2006-W Reverse Proof Gold Eagle.

The 2006-W American Gold Eagle Reverse Proof was unique to the 20th Anniversary set. The raised design elements of the coin are mirrored and the background fields are frosted. This is the reverse of the typical cameo proof finish. Because of this, many of these sets were broken up and the coins encapsulated in third-party grading service holders.

A second 20th Anniversary Set included a one-ounce 2006-W American Gold Eagle Uncirculated coin and 2006-W American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin. Both coins were treated giving them a burnished finish. Since both coins were available to be purchased individually with over 19,000 produced, it is easier to find a set in its original government packaging.

Annual Collector Coins and Sets

During the course of the American Gold Eagle Program, the U.S. Mint has offered proof coins for the collector they sold directly through their sales channels. Collectors could purchase each coin individually in a presentation case or all four coins as a set.

When searching for American Gold Eagle Proof coins on eBay, be careful not to buy a lot with just the original government package (OGP) and no coins. It is common for collectors to remove the coins from the OGP and send them to a third-party grading service for encapsulation. Collectors and dealers will try to sell the OGP without the coins for people who have the coins but not the package.

The OGP without the coins have no collector value.

Starting in 2006, the U.S. Mint has offered an uncirculated American Silver Eagle coins struck on specially burnished gold blanks. The burnishing gives the coin a satin finish that distinguishes this version from the bullion coin. These coins were offered from 2006-2008 and 2011 to present. Because of the increased demand for the gold bullion coins in 2009 and 2010, the U.S. Mint did not produce burnished collector coins so that the blanks can be used for fulfilling the bullion demand.

Similar to the proof collector coins, many of these coins were removed from their OGP and encapsulated by third-party grading services. The warning about sellers offering the OGP for sale without coins applies for the uncirculated burnished coins.

Rolls and the Monster Box

When the U.S. Mint sells bullion coins to their authorized resellers, the coins are packaged in 20-coin hard plastic rolls and 25 rolls are placed in a specially designed box that contains 500 troy ounces of silver. Rolls are topped with red caps and the boxes storing the rolls are red.

Although you may be able to find rolls and monster boxes of American Gold Eagle for sale, the price will be commensurate with the price of the coins. However, some dealers have tried to sell the boxes to anyone interested.

In our next installment, we look at the American Platinum Eagles.

A Look at the American Eagles: The American Silver Eagles

This is first article of a 4 part series:
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post was updated on May 11, 2020. Please read the new version → here.

The American Silver Eagle program was created to provide a way for the United States government to sell off silver that was saved in the Defense National Stockpile. Following the Coinage Act of 1965 that removed silver United States coinage the amount of silver being used was building up a supply that far exceeded the needs for the national stockpile.

Following several years of discussion that almost led to the bulk auction and sale of the silver, it was decided to use the silver to create a silver investment coin. The program was so successful that when the Defense National Stockpile was depleted in 2002, the original law was changed to continue the program by purchasing silver from U.S.-based mines at market prices to be used for future production.

American Silver Eagle Design

The obverse of the coin is the much-beloved design of that was used on the Walking Liberty Half-Dollar coin from 1916 to 1947. It was designed by Adolph A. Weinman, a former student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

The reverse features a heraldic eagle using a design by John Mercanti who would become the 12th Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint. Mercanti engraved both sides of the coin that including copying Weinman’s original design.

Each coin contains one troy ounce (31.103 grams) of .999 fine silver with the balance of copper. American Silver Eagle coins are 40.6 mm (1.598 inches) in diameter and 2.98 mm (0.1173 inches) thick with reeded edges. The coins are assigned a face value of $1.00 to give them legal tender status.

Bullion American Silver Eagle Coins

The American Silver Eagle program produces bullion and collectible coins. The bullion coins can be stuck at any branch mint but does not have a mintmark. Bullion coins are sold in bulk to special dealers who then sell it to retailers. They are struck for the investment market.

Although some people do collect bullion coins there are not produced for the collector market. As with other investments, American Silver Eagle bullion coins are subject to taxes when sold. Please consult your financial advisor or tax professional for the tax implications for your situation.

It is important to note that there have been attempts to determine where the bullion coins have been struck. Collectors have tried to use shipping records from the U.S. Mint, shipping labels, and other means to try to investigate the origin of the coins. Although some believe that these methods have identified some coins, the U.S. Mint has said that the shipping records that are being relied upon are not correct and do not reliably show the branch mint of origin.

Collector American Silver Eagle Coins

Collector coins are produced and sold by the U.S. Mint in specialty packaging directly to the public. Collectors can purchase new coins directly from the U.S. Mint and find these coins online. Collector American Silver Eagle coins are produced as proof and uncirculated coins.

The U.S. Mint sells American Silver Eagle proof coins in a specially made capsule and that capsule is placed in a blue velvet-covered case. The case was distributed in a blue box with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Beginning in 2006, the U.S. Mint has produced an uncirculated, business strike coin for the collector market. Most uncirculated American Silver Eagle collector coins are struck in West Point and bear the “W” mintmark. Following striking, the coins are then burnished, a process by treating the surface with fine particles to give the surface a smooth, satin finish. Collector versions of the American Silver Eagle are also placed in a capsule for sale to the public. Packaging has varied from year to year including special collectibles.

When looking for collector American Silver Eagle coins, note that the American Silver Eagle proof coin was not struck in 2009 and the uncirculated burnished coins were not struck in 2009-2010. These years were skipped because the demand for bullion American Silver Eagle coins became higher than the available supply of silver planchets. To satisfy the demand, the U.S. Mint decided not to produce these collector coins.

OGP vs. GRADED

2018-W American Silver Eagle Proof in Original Government Package

Collector American Silver Eagle coins can be purchased either in their original government package or graded. When searching for coins that are in their original government packaging on most online auction sites, it is recommended that you add “OGP” as part of the search.

Collector American Silver Eagle coins may have been removed from its original government package in order to be sent to a third-party grading service for grading. Most of the time, the original government package may have been discarded. Some dealers will sell the package without the coin for a few dollars, but for collectors of graded coins, this is not a priority.

2007 Reverse Variety

In 2008, the U.S. Mint updated the reverse dies of the American Silver Eagle giving it a slightly different appearance. The reverse die was only supposed to be used on collector American Silver Eagle coins in 2008 before being used for bullion coins in 2009.

However, as a result of the human factor required with operating the minting equipment at the West Point Mint, the reverse dies that were used for the 2007 American Silver Eagle coins were mated with 2008 collector coins creating a new variety for collectors. This is known as a 2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety.

2008-W Silver Eagle Reverse of 2007 Variety
(Image courtesy of the Silver Eagle Guide)

The 1995-W

Tenth Anniversary American Eagle Set

As part of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the American Eagle program, the U.S. Mint created the 10th Anniversary American Eagle set. The set contained a 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin that was not made available to collectors not buying the set. Collectors wanting to purchase add the 1995-W American Silver Eagle proof coin to their collection had to purchase the entire five-coin set that included four American Gold Eagle proof coins ($5, $10, $25 and $50 gold American Eagles). The set was priced at $999 limiting the number of coins sold.

Most of the sets have been split up to take advantage of the fluctuating metal prices. The gold coins have been sold while the gold prices rose since 1995, but the limited availability has caused the 1995-W American Silver Eagle to rise significantly on the secondary market. Cost to purchase this coin averages about $5,000, depending on the grade. Finding the entire set with the American Gold Eagle coins in their original government package can set you back $8,000 and higher.

Special Sets

In 1993, the U.S. Mint offered The Philadelphia Set, which was issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the striking of the first official U.S. coins at the Philadelphia Mint. This special set included each of the Proof American Gold and Silver Eagles struck at the Philadelphia Mint and containing the “P” mint mark. The 1993-P Proof Silver Eagle was included in the set along with the one-half ounce, one-quarter ounce, and one-tenth ounce 1993-P Proof Gold Eagles. Also included was a silver Philadelphia Bicentennial Medal, which specially produced for this numismatic product.

To mark the launch of the new American Platinum Eagle bullion and collector coin series, the US Mint offered the 1997 Impressions of Liberty Set. This set contained the one ounce 1997-W Proof Platinum Eagle, one ounce 1997-W Proof Gold Eagle, and one ounce 1997-P Proof Silver Eagle. Adding some special allure to the set, production was limited to just 5,000 units, which were individually numbered. The serial number for each set was engraved on a brass plate affixed to the wooden display case.

In 2004, the U.S. Mint worked with the United Kingdom’s Royal Mint to create a numismatic product containing the silver bullion coins from each country. The Legacies of Freedom Set contained one 2003 American Silver Eagle bullion coin and one 2002 British Silver Britannia bullion coin. The two coins were placed in special packaging which highlighted the importance of the two national icons.

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the 220th anniversary of the United States Mint the two bureaus joined together to release the 2012 Making American History Coin and Currency Set. The set contained a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a $5 note with a serial number beginning in “150”.

As part of the 2016 Ronald Reagan Coin and Chronicles Set the U.S. Mint included a 2016 Proof American Silver Eagle along with a 2016 Ronald Reagan Presidential reverse proof dollar, and a Nancy Reagan Bronze Medal. To complete the set, it included a presidential portrait produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and an informational booklet.

Annual Sets

To extend the product line, the U.S. Mint began to create special annual issue sets to entice people to collect U.S. Mint products. The first annual set containing an American Silver Eagle coin was the Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set. First offered in 2007, the set includes the issued uncirculated Presidential dollar coins, an uncirculated Native American dollar coin, and an uncirculated American Silver Eagle. Since the Presidential Dollar Program ended in 2016, it is unclear whether the U.S. Mint will issue the set in 2017.

Since 2012, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Limited Edition Silver Proof Set that contains 90% silver versions of the year’s five America the Beautiful Quarters, Kennedy Half Dollar, and Roosevelt Dime, along with the standard annual Proof American Silver Eagle. Sets are limited to 50,000 units annually.

Starting in 2013, the U.S. Mint has been producing the Congratulations Set as part of a new line of products targeted towards gift giving occasions. The This set included the standard annual Proof Silver Eagle within specially designed packaging which allowed a personalized message to be written the recipient.

Anniversary Sets

2011 American Silver Eagle 25th Anniversary Set

Since the American Eagle Program has been one of the most successful programs in the history of the U.S. Mint, they have used its popularity to extend the product line. Aside from celebrating the anniversary of the program, the U.S. Mint has produced anniversary sets to celebrate Mint facilities.

The Anniversary sets issued are as follows:

  • 1995 American Eagle 10th Anniversary Set included a 1995-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin and four American Gold Eagle coins.
  • 2006 20th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a special three-coin box set included a 2006-W American Silver Eagle with a burnished (satin) finish, a 2006-W American Silver Eagle Proof coin, and a 2006-P American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin.
  • 2011 25th Anniversary American Silver Eagle Set was a five-coin box set that contained five different coins. The U.S. Mint produced only 100,000 sets that sold out within the first 10 minutes they were offered online. This extremely popular set is averaging $800 on the secondary market in the original government package. The set includes the following coins:
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-S (San Francisco) American Silver Eagle Uncirculated coin
    • 2011-W (West Point) American Silver Eagle Proof coin
    • 2011-P (Philadelphia) American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin
    • 2011 (no mintmark) American Silver Eagle Bullion coin
  • 2012 American Eagle San Francisco Two Coin Silver Proof Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the current San Francisco Mint. The set included a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Proof coin and a 2012-S American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof Coin.
  • 2013 West Point American Silver Eagle Set was issued to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the facility in West Point, New York. The set included a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Reverse Proof coin and a 2013-W American Silver Eagle Enhanced Uncirculated coin. This was a popular set since it was the first appearance of the Enhanced Uncirculated finishing process.

Although the U.S. Mint did not issue a set to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the American Silver Eagle in 2016, the collector issues of the coins were issued with special edge lettering. Rather than the edge being reeded it was smooth with “30TH ANNIVERSARY” struck into the edge. Both the proof and burnished uncirculated coins were produced at West Point include the “W” mintmark and the edge lettering.

Rolls and the Green Monster Box

When the U.S. Mint sells bullion coins to their authorized resellers, the coins are packaged in 20-coin hard plastic rolls and 25 rolls are placed in a specially designed box that contains 500 troy ounces of silver. Because the box is green in color and sealed by the U.S. Mint, the package is nicknamed the Green Monster Box.

Resellers sell Green Monster Boxes with the intent of selling to investors. They also sell complete rolls from the Monster Box.

Sealed Green Monster Boxes have the benefit of being unsearched and unhandled since leaving the U.S. Mint. Additionally, the cost per coin is usually the lowest available since the coins are being purchased in bulk. These boxes are usually offered for sale by bullion dealers at a small premium over the current market (spot) price of silver.

In the next installment, we look at the American Gold Eagle coins.

All images courtesy of the U.S. Mint unless otherwise noted.

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