The American Silver Eagle is the official silver bullion coin of the United States. It was first released by the United States Mint on November 24, 1986.
The Silver Eagle is only struck in the one troy ounce version; it has a nominal face value of one dollar and is guaranteed to contain one troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver. Its content, weight and purity are officially certified by the United States Mint. Bullion Silver Eagle coins do not have mintmarks. The coin has been produced at three mints: the Philadelphia Mint, the San Francisco Mint, and the West Point Mint.
In addition to the bullion version, the United States Mint has produced an uncirculated version for coin collectors, together with a proof version: from 1986 to 1992, proof coins bear the “S” mintmark, from 1993 to 2000 they bear the “P” mintmark, and since 2001 they stand the “W” mintmark.
The two sides of the silver eagle
The design for this face of the coin was inspired from the “Walking Liberty” design by Adolph A. Weinman. Used on the United States Walking Liberty Half Dollar coin from 1916 to 1947, this iconic design had been a public favorite, and it was revived for the Silver Eagle decades later. This is one of the most beloved designs of any United States coinage of modern times. The obverse side bears inscriptions with the year of minting or issuance, the word LIBERTY, and the phrase IN GOD WE TRUST.
The reverse side was designed by John Mercanti. It depicts a heraldic eagle behind a shield, clutching an olive branch in its right talon, and arrows in its left one, resounding the Great Seal of the United States. Above the eagle there are thirteen five-pointed stars representing the Thirteen Colonies.
The reverse is inscribed with the phrases UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 1 OZ. FINE SILVER~ONE DOLLAR; the banner that the eagle holds in its beak has the phrase E PLURIBUS UNUM (Out of many, one), a phrase adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. Never codified by law, it was considered a de facto motto of the United States until 1956, when the United States Congress passed an act, adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto. When applicable, the mintmark is engraved on this side.
The incentive of the program derives from executive plans to sell off silver from the Defense National Stockpile in the early 1980s.The first American Silver Eagle coin was struck in San Francisco on October 29, 1986. From 2006 to 2008, and starting again in 2011, the United States Mint issued a collectible uncirculated Silver Eagle coin produced at West Point (bearing the “W” mintmark) .Special issues were struck in 1993 and 1995, while in 2000, the Mint issued the “United States Millennium Coinage and Currency Set”. In January 2004, the Mint released the Legacies of Freedom United States and United Kingdom Silver Bullion Coin set, which consisted of the 2003 bullion Silver Eagle and a 2002 Silver United Kingdom Britannia bullion design. The Silver Eagle coin set had an issue limit of 50,000 coins.