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.
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.