American Silver Eagles have been the official silver bullion coin of the United States since its first release in 1986. It is only ever struck with a face value of one dollar and carries one troy ounce of .999 pure silver. It is authorized by the US Congress and backed by the US Mint for both weight and content. The coin is minted in the U.S. Mint's West Point, New York facility,
Each coin contains one troy ounce of pure silver and measures 1.598" (or 40.6mm) in diameter with a thickness of .117" or 2.98mm. They are impressively large and substantial coins and are America's only official investment grade silver bullion coins.
It is also legal tender in the US although hardly likely to be used as such since the value of the silver in the coin heavily outweighs the face value.
The obverse design is based on the U.S. "Walking Liberty" half dollar, which was originally minted in 1916 and designed by the German-immigrant sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman. He was the designer of the famous U.S. "Mercury" dime, also introduced in 1916. The reverse side of the coin features a bald eagle and shield, with 13 stars, representing the 13 original American colonies, positioned above the eagle's head.
The United States Mint also produces proof versions of American Silver Eagle coins for collectors. These American Silver Eagle Proof Coins undergo a specialized minting process, which begins with a manual feeding of burnished coin blanks into presses fitted with special dies. The coin is struck multiple times so the softly frosted, yet detailed images seem to float above a mirror-like field. After scrutiny by white gloved inspectors, each American Eagle Proof Coin is sealed in a protective plastic capsule and mounted in a handsome satin-lined velvet presentation case with its own official Certificate of Authenticity. Since American Eagle Proof Coins are produced by the United States Mint, each coin's content, weight and purity are guaranteed by the United States Government. Each issue of American Eagle Gold, Silver, and Platinum Proof Coins have a limited mintage and can be purchased directly from the United States Mint.
Beginning in 2006, the United States Mint added an additional member to the American Eagle family of precious metal coins. Collectors can now choose to purchase American Eagle Uncirculated Coins in silver, gold and platinum directly from the United States Mint.
Like its proof counterpart, the American Eagle Silver Uncirculated Coin is available in a one-ounce size, while the American Eagle Uncirculated Coins in both gold and platinum are available in one-tenth, one-quarter, one-half and one ounce sizes, as well as a complete four-coin set containing one coin of each size. The American Eagle Platinum Uncirculated Coins carry the same reverse design as the American Eagle Platinum Proof Coins.
In a process similar to that used to create the magnificent American Eagle Proof Coins, American Eagle Uncirculated Coins are hand-loaded into the coining press, struck on specially burnished blanks and carry the "W" mint mark of the United States Mint at West Point.
For collectors with limited resources or funding, one can purchase one or a few at a time without breaking the bank and they are easy to store, transport and, in an emergency, resell.
Along side the Canadian Maple, many consider the American Silver Eagle to be among the most beautiful coins minted anywhere in the world and to buy American Silver Eagles is, understandably, one of the most popular activities of silver coin collectors.