Following two years of silence, the 2011 uncirculated Silver Eagle is set to make a comeback next month, according to an updated product schedule from the United States Mint.
The Mint’s online schedule indicates that the newest American Silver Eagle is ready for a September 15, 2011 release at a price of $60.45. The release date is not set in stone, as the Mint’s schedule has been tweaked before after a coin addition. But changes this late into the year are less common.
[Update: Changes this year have proven to be more common. The Mint has updated the release date two times. The initial date was the 29th, followed by the 20th and now the current 15th.]
Three American Silver Eagle Coins
The uncirculated Silver Eagle is one of the most popular products offered by the United States Mint, although it is the least purchased among the three versions produced. Perhaps one reason is its youth.
Bullion version for investors and the proof version for coin collectors were each introduced in 1986. The uncirculated Silver Eagle, also struck for collectors, was only added to the Mint’s family of American Eagle coins in 2006. Since then, however, it has appeared in just three years — 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Only the bullion issues have enjoyed uninterrupted annual releases. The proof coin was not sold in 2009 and the uncirculated coin was not available in either 2009 or 2010. Then, the United States Mint focused on fulfilling an unprecedented bullion demand, as it was mandated by law to do. It had no such legal obligation for collector American Eagles. The law and requirements have since changed as a result of the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act.
Past Uncirculated American Silver Eagle Mintages
Of the several dozen products issued by the United States Mint each year, few rack up sales of several hundred thousand. The uncirculated Silver Eagle is one of them, scoring closing mintages of 198,553 in 2006; 621,333 in 2007; and 436,702 in 2008.
2011 Price Expectations and Demand
This year’s 2011 bullion Silver Eagle was released on January 3. The coins are available through United States Mint distributors, coin dealers, etc. for a small amount over the cost of silver. 25,699,500 have sold as of Thursday. The Mint directly offers the 2011 proof Silver Eagle for $68.45 (it was $59.95 until a suspension occurred on August 25 following by re-pricing*). It debuted on June 30 with sales reaching $22 million in six days with 367,623 purchased. The latest figures as of Tuesday have their total at 621,983.
In short, demand for silver coins is high this year — at record levels — and that will help spur sales of uncirculated Silver Eagles. Plus, its two-year absence could stoke demand. The proof reached a sales peak following its one-year absence.
The United States Mint last offered the uncirculated Eagle in 2008 for $25.95, which was $6 less than the companion proof piece. Silver’s average that year was about one-third of what it goes for today. The actual price of the 2011 Uncirculated Silver Eagle may not be known for at least 4-6 weeks, but given current factors it should be exactly at or much closer to this year’s proof price of $59.95.
[*Update: The Mint raised prices of the Silver Eagles. The uncirculated Eagle price is $60.45, as announced by the Mint at the end of August.]
American Silver Eagle Coin Specifications
All three American Silver Eagles feature identical designs and coin specifications, including:
- a composition of .999 fine silver,
- one ounce weight,
- 1.598 inch diameter and
- 0.113 inch thickness
The proof version is most distinct as it has a mirror-like finish. The bullion and uncirculated versions closely resemble each other. The major difference between the two is the presence or lack of a mintmark. The bullion coin has none. The uncirculated Silver Eagle will feature a West Point "W" mintmark on its reverse. As such, the more formal designation for this year’s issue is the name: "2011-W American Eagle Silver Uncirculated Coin."