The international market’s top silver bullion coin is back for its 32nd year, with the 2018 American Silver Eagle! We offer these 1 troy oz pure silver coins in 20-coin US Mint storage tubes for easy and safe storage. The purity and weight of each coin is backed by the US government, for your peace of mind.
Since its introduction in 1986, the American Silver Eagle has sold more than 500 million coins, twice the number of its closest competitor, the Canadian Silver Maple Leaf. The design of the Silver Eagle is quintessentially American. The obverse features a detailed rendition of Adolph A Weinman’s Walking Liberty silver half-dollar, which circulated from 1916 to 1947. Long cherished as one of America’s most beautiful coin designs, its reintroduction on the Silver Eagle in 1986 has met with overwhelming approval.
Weinman’s original design for the half dollar had to be altered in order to get acceptable strikes with the coining machines 100 years ago, primarily by lowering the relief. In 1985, Engraver John Mercanti of the US Mint took the opportunity to bring out more detail and strengthen the relief of Weinman’s Walking Liberty while preparing the designs for the Silver Eagle. The larger size and greater weight (not to mention the softness of .999 fine silver compared to coin silver) of the bullion coin allowed Weinman’s Liberty to be struck as he had originally envisioned it in 1916.
The reverse of the American Silver Eagle features an original heraldic eagle design by John Mercanti. This striking image more than holds its own against older, historical designs. A muscular bald eagle bearing a Union Shield on its breast dominates the center of the coin, its wings stretched upward and out in a vee. Slotted between the wings is a downward-pointing wedge of 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies of the United States. A ribbon held in the eagle’s beak flows horizontally to each side, bearing the national motto “E Pluribus Unum”. The eagle grasps an olive branch in its right talon as an offering of peace, while the six arrows clutched in its left talon represent the nation’s ability in war, should peace fail.
The 2018 American Silver Eagle bullion coins in 20-coin Mint rolls that we offer here arrive at Gainesville Coins in sealed “monster boxes” that contain 25 of these tubes, for a total of 500 coins per box. Buying American Silver Eagles in 20-coin US Mint tubes keeps your pure .999 fineness silver coins safe and secure, in tubes made especially to store them.
The bullion version of the American Silver Eagle is not sold directly to the public by the US Mint. Instead, the coins are sold in increments of 500 to authorized bullion distributors, who then sell them at retail. Neither do the bullion versions include a mint mark, meaning that in years where more than one Mint struck Silver Eagles, there is no way to distinguish one from the other.
Production of bullion and proof versions of the American Gold Eagle and Silver Eagle takes place at the West Point Mint, near the US Military Academy. Collectible versions of the Silver Eagle are produced at the main US Mint in Philadelphia. These numismatic coins can be purchased directly from the Mint during certain sales windows, and from major bullion distributors such as Gainesville Coins in the secondary market.
The History of the American Silver Eagle
The American Silver Eagle is the first legal tender pure silver coin minted by the United States of America. It is designed to derive its value from its silver content, not its legal tender denomination. Its one troy ounce weight makes investing in physical silver simple, with each coin’s weight and fineness backed by the full faith and credit of the United States.
Originally envisioned simply as a way to draw down the massive amount of silver supply in the National Strategic Reserve without unduly depressing the silver market, the Silver Eagle program was supposed to end once this silver had been completely depleted. However, the coin had taken on a life of its own.
When the last of the Strategic Reserve silver was close to being exhausted in 2002, Congress amended the 1985 Liberty Coin Act to allow the Treasury Department to source silver on the open market to continue the program.
While the American Silver Eagle was popular among certain sectors of the public, it wasn’t until the Global Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 that demand reached unprecedented heights. Demand for Silver Eagles outstripped West Point’s production capability, requiring other US Mints to assist in striking enough coins. Even so, there would be a hiatus in sales nearly every year during the crisis, and demand outstripped the Mint’s ability to strike enough coins.
American Silver Eagle Production During the Global Financial Crisis
*New Sales Record
The US Mint at San Francisco or the main US Mint in Philadelphia have assisted West Point with American Silver Eagle production since 2011, as a string of sales records were broken for seven out of eight years from 2008 to 2015.
Supplementary Silver Eagle Production 2011-2017
|2017:||San Francisco, Philadelphia|
|2016:||San Francisco, Philadelphia|
A A Weinman’s Walking Liberty
Adolph Alexander Weinman was a German-born sculptor whose many works included the giant eagles and figures of the original Pennsylvania Station in New York City; the “Rising Sun” and “Descending Night” monumental sculptures displayed at the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco; the Prison Ships Martyrs Monument in Brooklyn, NY; and the pediment (front face) of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC, depicting the drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
Despite all these magnificent achievements, it is two tiny things most people recognize him for today: The Winged Liberty “Mercury” dime, and the “Walking liberty” half dollar. Both coins debuted in 1916, to overwhelming approval. Some even compared the new half dollar favorably to the 1907 gold coin designs of famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens!
The bold confidence in which flag-enrobed Liberty carries herself across the face of the coin makes the Walking Liberty half dollar one of the most dynamic circulated coins ever struck by the US Mint. Weinman himself described the design thusly, shortly after its introduction:
"The design of the half dollar bears a full-length figure of Liberty, the folds of the stars and stripes flying to the breeze as a background, progressing in full stride toward the dawn of a new day, carrying branches of laurel and oak, symbolic of civil and military glory. The hand of the figure is outstretched in bestowal of the spirit of Liberty."
Many people claim to see a strong resemblance between the bust of Liberty on Weinman’s “Winged Liberty” (Mercury) dime, and the Walking Liberty of the half dollar. However, others maintain that two separate women were used as models for the coins. The model for the Mercury dime is generally accepted to have been Elsie Stevens, wife of poet Wallace Stevens, when the couple were tenants of an apartment building owned by Weinman. The artist’s 1913 bust of Mrs. Stevens shows an obvious connection with the image of Liberty on the Mercury dime.
In contrast with the theory that Stevens was also the model for the Walking Liberty half dollar, there is evidence, including memories of Weinman family members, that professional model Audrey Munson posed for the design.
Audrey Munson: World’s First Supermodel
Audrey Munson was an 18-year old showgirl in New York City shopping with her mother on 5th Avenue when she was discovered by photographer Felix Herzog. Through herzog, she was introduced to many other photographers, painters and sculptors. Four years later, her image had become so ubiquitous on the New York art scene that the New York Sun claimed that "Over a hundred artists agree that if the name of Miss Manhattan belongs to anyone in particular it is to this young woman."
By 1916, the year she posed for Weinman’s Walking Liberty half dollar coin design, her likeness could be found in scores of locations, in statues by the most famous sculptors of the day. For Weinman alone, she had already posed for his famous “Descending Night” monumental sculpture at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Expo, the 25-foot tall gilded statue “Civic Fame” atop the giant Manhattan Municipal Building, and, some opine, the left female on the Union Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Baltimore.
The story of the “First Supermodel” ends in tragedy. She was committed to a mental institution at the age of 39, where she lived, with no visitors, until her death at 104.
John Mercanti’s Silver Eagle Reverse
John Mercanti was the US Mint’s twelfth, and likely last, Chief Engraver. He holds the distinction of having designed more than 100 coins and medals during his tenure, more than any other person in Mint history. One of his first assignments after being hired by the Mint in 1974 was to sculpt the reverse of the J Edgar Hoover memorial medallion. (Chief Engraver Frank Gasparro sculpted the obverse.)
Perhaps the most famous of Mercanti’s works is the reverse of the American Silver Eagle. The sharp, powerful design of a heraldic bald eagle embodies the power of the United States as the world’s only superpower at the time it was created. The bold details make the eagle seem almost muscular, forcefully staring outward from the surface of the coin.
What is less known about Mercanti’s work on the Silver Eagle, is that he used Adolph Weinman’s original 6” plasters for his 1916 Walking Liberty half dollar to construct the Silver Eagle obverse. Weinman had had to lower the relief and remove some small details from his work, in order for the presses at the US Mint to make a full strike. But with the larger size and softer pure silver of the Silver Eagle, Mercanti was able to restore the design sharpening the details from Liberty’s robe, to the inscriptions, to the landscape itself.
Mercanti was born in 1943, in Philadelphia. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia College of Art. His career had a humble beginning as an illustrator of childrens books before being hired by the US Mint 1974.
Mercanti’s 1984 Olympics commemorative gold eagle was the first time that the US Mint had struck a gold coin since 1933. It was also the first coin the carry the “W” mintmark of the West Point Mint. This coin followed the specifications for the circulating $10 gold eagle.
Another “silver dollar” design by Mercanti was released in 1986: The Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island commemorative silver dollar was another coin that used the specifications of a former circulating coin.
Mercanti’s designs have appeared on another United States bullion coin, with the authorization of the American Platinum Eagle in 1996. Mercanti’s obverse for the coin features a striking close-up of of a serene yet determined Statue of Liberty.
American Silver Eagles by the Roll
As you can see, the American Silver Eagle is not only the world’s most popular .999 fine silver bullion coin, it’s design is rooted in the works of two of America’s most renowned coinage designers. As US legal tender, the American Silver Eagle is exempt from sales taxes in many states. Unlike silver bars, the Silver Eagle is the ONLY way to invest in silver guaranteed by the United States government. Purchasing them in tubes of 20 coins makes them as easy to store as silver bars. In addition, the US Mint coin tubes keep your American Silver Eagle bullion coins protected.
Gainesville Coins offers current-date Silver Eagles individually, and in Mint-sealed “monster boxes” of 500 coins, as well as in 20-coin tubes.