Some American Silver Eagles Are Worth 100x Their Silver Value: Here’s What to Look For
by Chris Maisano
Published on December 4, 2020
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Good news to collectors and investors of silver and modern coinage. There are a number of American Silver Eagles worth thousands more than just their silver content. Here is what to look for.
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A coveted 1994 Silver Eagle graded PCGS MS70. (Images courtesy of Heritage Auctions)
American Silver Eagles are some of the most stunningly gorgeous pieces of coinage and bullion that the United States Mint strikes today. The exquisite obverse design was created by Adolph Alexander Weinman in 1916, originally, for the Walking Liberty Half Dollar series. It appeared on the obverse of that series until its end in 1947. This same obverse design was later used, actually 70 years after its inception, to be precise, for the American Silver Eagle. This repeat usage of design is not uncommon. For example, the modern Gold Eagles adopted the St.-Gaudens Double Eagle obverse design.
Getting back to the American Silver Eagles, they are collected and known mostly for their silver content. These beauties are, by far, the best way of investing in silver as no other silver product out there trades at higher premiums. Even though these Silver Eagles are most popular among bullion investors, there exists a collector market for them. With the exception of the 1995-W Proof there is no other rare or low mintage Silver Eagle. All desirability, collectability and value comes solely from certified condition. Like many other modern coins, perfectly pristine pieces in MS or PR70 grades is where you will find a spike in value of at least 100 times the silver value. Numismatic value only exists in grades 69 and 70, making 68 or lower exclusively worth its silver content.
Pieces graded 69 are worth only marginally more than their preceding grades and are, therefore, not worth noting. The blemish free 70 grade perfect gems are the examples you need to look out for. The century mark is important to note with these coins as dates following 2000 do not have much of any numismatic value, even in 70 condition. There are a choice few worth potentially acquiring such as the 2001, 2002 and even 2003 through 2006 as they do have some numismatic value. Don’t get me wrong, they are nowhere near 100 times the value of their silver content even though they sell at premiums in perfect 70 grades. As of October 2020, silver is trading at $24 per ounce. However, Silver Eagles trade at premiums, so I will round up their value to $30 per ounce, which I feel is a realistic and fair estimate. Therefore, each Silver Eagle has a value of approximately $30.
The following coins are worth an estimated 100 times that silver content with values of about $3,000 each in perfect MS70 condition. Now, let’s take a closer look at these dates.
1990 Silver Eagle: This date is the third rarest in the series in perfect condition with dearteassociazione.org and other price guide values north of $3,000. For example, the two most recent PCGS graded auction records came in 2019 and 2020, with both bringing a strong hammer price of $3,600.
1994 Silver Eagle: This date is the second rarest in the series in perfect condition with dearteassociazione.org value in excess of $6,000 making it worth 200 times its silver content. The lone MS70 piece graded by PCGS thus far to ever sell at auction brought the very large sum of over $11,000.
1999 Silver Eagle: This date is the rarest in the series in perfect condition with dearteassociazione.org value around $10,000, making it the only five-figure business strike Silver Eagle. The most recent PCGS graded auction record came just over a year ago bringing in over $13,000.
These 3 dates are the scarcest and best exemplify the title of this article. However, there are a few other dates that I believe are worth mentioning. These five dates blow away their silver content value by slightly less than 100 times in MS70 condition.
They are the 1991, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 2000. Stock piling silver and gold has become a worldwide phenomenon; and the recent spike in precious metal values, may prove this effort to be worthwhile. My purpose here is to show the world of silver hoarders and investors that these particular Silver Eagles are more than just a representation of an ounce of silver. This topic could not be more appropriate now more than ever amid the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. The economies of a vast number of nations are fragile and uncertain, including our own. The rippling effects have resulted in a lack of trust in financial institutions and in paper money. Thus, collectors are turning their attention toward acquiring gold and silver, such as these Silver Eagles. In my opinion, across all silver coinage and bullion, there is no better silver investment than these American Eagles. Especially the high end pieces highlighted in this article, with their numismatic value which far surpasses their silver value. Overall, investing in gold and silver, is safe. With that said, risk is inherent with any investment.
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The only major risk, in my opinion, with collecting precious metals is the potential of coming across counterfeits. Today, the most common counterfeited American Silver Eagles come out of China. These fakes are incredibly good replicas making it difficult to tell when something is off. The weight and overall look to these pieces can be almost identical to the real thing. So here are a few tips you will want to keep in mind when purchasing Silver Eagles. First and foremost, always buy from a trusted source and trust your gut. When you think something isn’t right with the coin or the transaction itself, it probably isn’t. Don’t buy it. Next, always perform a magnet test. These tests are an easy and reliable way to detect fakes. But keep in mind, some counterfeits can actually pass magnet tests. So, pay attention to the edges of the coins, as all Silver Eagle edges are going to be reeded. Another safeguard is to know your history and know your coins. Educate your eye and mind to spot details on the coin to detect inaccuracies and placement errors. Get to know the coloring, design, strike and even the oxidation process of these coins. You must know the basic sizing and weights of real Silver Eagles, as well.