In 1986, the U.S. Mint began striking gold and silver American Eagle coins. Since that time, more than 400,000,000 American Eagle silver coins have been minted, making them one of the most successful U.S. Mint silver bullion coins ever. The rich quality and history of the coin are what make the American Eagle silver so popular and enduring.
Each American Eagle silver coin contains .999 fine silver bullion. Officially, the American Eagle silver coins carry a value of one dollar. For this reason, they are often called "Silver Dollars." However, because the coins are legally classified as "numismatic," the U.S. Mint can sell them for above the one-dollar face value.
The name "Silver Eagle" comes from the coin's reverse side, which features an eagle perched behind a shield. This design was created by John Mercanti, the famous sculptor and engraver working for the U.S. Mint.
The obverse side of the Silver Eagle also carries an artistic design. Lady Liberty gestures toward the sunset while holding branches of laurel and oak. This design was made by Adolph A. Weinman and was first used on the Walking Liberty Half Dollar between 1916 and 1947. The Walking Liberty was originally created to bring aesthetics back to American coinage.
There are two main types of Silver Eagle coins: proof and uncirculated. Proof coins are made specifically for collectors, and carry a shiny finish as a result of a unique minting process. On the other hand, uncirculated coins are designed specifically for investors and do not bear mint marks. These coins carry more of a smooth satin finish.
The American Eagle silver coin has become a widely popular collectible in the thirty-two years since its creation. The rich history and aesthetics of the coin would make it a highly valuable part of anyone's collection.