NGC to Certify San Francisco Mint American Silver Eagles

by Mike Unser on June 7, 2011 · 10 comments

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) on Tuesday announced that it will certify San Francisco minted Silver Eagles. The San Francisco struck bullion coin was introduced just one week ago by the United States Mint.

San Francisco Mint Silver Eagle NGC Labels

NGC labels for early release and standard 2011 San Francisco Mint American Silver Eagle bullion coins

NGC will designate such coins with a label reading "Struck at San Francisco Mint." Additionally, the label will have the "S" mintmark in parentheses next to the coin’s date.

San Francisco is no stranger to the American Silver Eagle bullion coin, but the U.S. Mint’s facility in California had not produced them in more than a decade. In an attempt to help meet the unprecedented demand for the one ounce, .999 fine silver bullion coins, the United States Mint on May 31 began fulfilling orders for the coins from its San Francisco Mint, in addition to those from its West Point Mint. Until then, they had been produced solely at West Point in New York since 2001.

The change, however, added complexities for collectors as the two bullion American Silver Eagles are identical in appearance. NGC will make the distinction based on how they are shipped, and require an entire "monster box" package of the coins to grade them.

"Because the S-Mint Silver American Eagles will be distinguishable only by the fact that they are shipped by the Treasury in large ‘monster boxes’ labeled San Francisco Mint, NGC’s labeling of these coins as San Francisco products will be limited to bulk submissions in such original shipping containers still sealed," NGC said in a statement.

"Dealers may contact NGC for further instructions about this service. Coins submitted during the first 30 days of issue are eligible for labels additionally reading EARLY RELEASES," the company added.

San Francisco certified Silver Eagles are likely to carry a higher premium in the secondary market, since their mintage levels will be significantly lower than those from West Point. The latest bullion coin sales as of May indicated 18,901,500 Silver Eagles sold this year. May sales stood at 3,654,500, making the monthly level the fourth best in history. The sales pace remains on track to surpass last year’s all-time annual record of 34,662,500.

Distinguishing Bullion, Proof and Uncirculated American Silvers Eagle Coins

There are three types of American Silver Eagles produced by the United States Mint. The bullion and proof versions are the oldest, having been minted since the introduction of the series in 1986. The uncirculated version was added in 2006. All three are collected by coin collectors, although the bullion coins are produced with investors in mind while the uncirculated and proof coins are intended for coin collectors.

All American Silver Eagles share the same design. The distinct mirror-like finish makes an easy identification for the the proof. However, the finish of the uncirculated coin closely resembles the bullion piece. And while there are varying production, handling and packaging processes for each, the easiest method to distinguish between an uncirculated and bullion American Silver Eagle is by searching for a mintmark. The reverse or tails side of the uncirculated (and proof) will include a "W" mintmark, denoting production at the United States Mint facility in West Point. The bullion version has no mintmark.

The  2011 bullion Silver Eagle was released by the United States Mint on January 3. The 2011 proof version is scheduled to launch on June 30. The Mint has not yet announced when it will make the uncirculated version available.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian O'Flanagan June 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm

San Francisco eagles graded and selling at a premium? There’s a sucker born every minute, I suppose.

Bosworth Johnson June 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Mine were the first ones shipped to Illinois. I suppose some moron will take my money to certify them as ER-FD-IL (early release, first day, Illinois)?

Gair June 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm

That totally defeats the purpose of NOT having a mint mark. These things are bullion, not currency.

Steve June 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm

This whole thing affects bullion coins, not collectibles. Don’t blame the mint. They produce the proofs and maybe a San Francisico “satin finish” uncirculated for collectors. No, the fault lies with the third party graders and buyers of their so important slabs. NGC basically started this with the 2006 anniversary coins by denoting which Eagles came from the 2 set versus 3 set collectors edition. Who really cares. Those coins were stamped out side by side, along with the ones that never made it into a collectors box. PCGS saw that there was no difference in coin but lost millions by handling the grading properly. NGC, on the other hand, made so many “slab collectors” think there is money to be made, down the road, because of the fact a coin came out of a particular container. If the mint was smart, it would produce one blue monster box for every ten green ones. Then NGC could label “from blue mint box”. NGC and their members would pay dearly the extra money for those monster boxed coins. Hope these slab collectors don’t lose their investment shirts when future buyers of collectible coins could care less where the coin was stored when it arrived at the grading company.

Brian V. June 9, 2011 at 11:43 am

This isn’t my Father’s coin hobby anymore!!
I agree with all four previous comments. I like the term “Slab Collectors” the best. But, as a dealer, doesn’t it make sense to have ’em in stock for the P.T. Barnum crowd? I won’t be buying any, and I’m not a coin or bullion dealer. My question is should true Numismatic dealers shy away and leave the selling to the T.V. hawkers telling the slab collectors their collections won’t be complete without them?
Just as Steve pointed out PCGS lost tons of money in the past before their relenting to First Strike designations and other grading concessions (Genuine? – if they’re gonna take the time to determine it’s genuine, throw a grade on the label !!!).
Smaller dealers with little shops and “Local Coin Show” guys who pay $60 for a table for 6 hours in a firehouse or VFW hall may need to stock the San Fran slabs as another possible revenue flow. Especially with a lousy economy, should they also bypass $$$ to remain more of a purist?

Mercury June 9, 2011 at 6:20 pm

It never ceases to amaze me the depth the world of coin collecting continues to go. LOL. I can’t wait for the graded coins they say were minted at Disney Land.

bubbah June 10, 2011 at 11:12 am

All collecting is folly, so be careful who you criticize. There are lots of collecting fields with aging collectors that need new collectors to keep growing. If you aren’t going to be tolerant of new collectors, they will
either quit collecting or move into something else. Coin collecting has
changed over time and it will change in the future as well. It is supposed to be fun. It is a hobby. Educate collectors, but don’t make fun of them.

Mercury June 11, 2011 at 11:35 am

I personally do not have a problem with efforts being made to expand the collecting fields or with the types of items that young and old collectors may decide to collect. My beef in this case is with The Grading Services itself (NGC). It’s true that a grading service may have the right to put a grade on whatever it sees fit; but the question is should it. I just feel that when it comes to a professional coin grading service, grading coins with an agenda, or for fun and games, should not be an accepted alternative. I personally have a lot riding on the proposed integrity of the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and any action by them that could damage their reputation in any way is of concern to me. I have no qualms with a professional grading service choice to branch off into uncharted waters provided that they have thoroughly researched the implication of their decision. Collecting for fun and games is one thing; but as regards investment purposes, most coin collectors rely on professional grading services to cut through all the mix mash of pie in the sky gimmicks that are out there to do harm to our “hobby”. I’m not saying that collecting coins for entertainment purposes is a bad thing, but as for as a professional grading service, I feel that they should be held to a higher standard. Professional Grading Services should not be in the business to entertain, but to maintain their status as an investment potential generated institution.
PS. I have also notice, and wonder if there is any connection in the fact that since forwarding my email address to this blog I have been receiving an enormous amount of spam. I’m not clear on why my email address is necessary in order to post a comment. Just hoping there aren’t integrity issues associated with this web site. Does anyone know if there is any type of privacy policy in regards the distribution of a bloggers’ email on this site?

Charles K Miller June 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Seems to me this is slightly opportunisitic of NGC. If we (collectors) could agree to utilized the S.F. mint only for proofs, maybe in 100+ years there will not be the difficulty determining an old proof copn from an old (toned) uncirculated coin.

steve1942 September 24, 2011 at 11:37 am

I would blame NGC for this confusion as well as developing the “slab collector”. Their multitude of labels, which has made them lots of money, is really confusing coin collecting. I’d hate to be a new collector and try to understand just want type of coin is hidden beneath their new labels. Now, they have the new “star” label. Looks pretty impressive, you’d think the coin in that slab would be very special. Instead, it’s probably the most worthless of the 2011 Eagles. They’ve managed to take a bullion eagle with no mint mark and copy their San Francisco trick. Put a W in parenthesis and make it appear as a satin finished uncirculated. I may be confused but I do believe it to be bullion. The satin finished coins should carry the mint mark on the reverse but that coin comes out in a plain NGC labeled slab. They’ve managed to make bullion look more impressive than the collectible. As a new collector, I’d head straight for that beautiful gold star. At least PCGS, which should have stuck with their SP designation, has manage to make it somewhat simpler by placing the parenthesis marks around the W for bullion. They haven’t decided to make a special label like NGC’s San Francisco Bay Bridge issue. This all started with the blue and black label NGC anniversary 2006 Eagles. Like it matters which box the coin comes out of. I think we have two type of collectors, coin collectors and slab collectors. NGC is way ahead with the slab collectors.

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