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My Thoughts On The Origin of the Type I American Silver Eagle Bullion Coins


The American Silver Eagle(ASE) Type I has been a staple bullion coin produced by the United States Mint from 1986 to present. It was established under an attachment to the " Liberty Coin Act" in 1985. As a result of this, legislation subsections were added which specified the mintage, metal and specifications for each ASE produced. To fully understand the beginning of these bullion coins lets delve into an excerpt from American Silver Eagles, A guide to the U.S bullion coin program by John M. Mercanti (2013) that discusses the legislative language as follows:


(e) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall mint and issue, in quantities sufficient to meet public demand, coins which -

(1) are 40.6 millimeters in diameter and weigh 31.103 grams;

(2) contain .999 fine silver

(3) have a design-

(A) symbolic of Liberty on the obverse side; and

(B) of an eagle on the reverse side;

(4) have inscriptions of the year of minting or issuance, and the words 'Liberty','In God We Trust', 'United States of America,' '1 Oz. Fine Silver, 'E Pluribus Unum,'and 'One Dollar;'and

(5) have reeded edges.

(f) The Secretary shall sell the coins minted under subsection (e) to the public at a price equal to the market value of the bullion at the time of sale, plus the cost of minting, marketing, and distributing ( including labor , materials, dyes(sic), use of machinery and overhead expenses).


Section (f) is under scored as this begins to explain the premium charge on ASE bullion coins, other factors include supply and demand, economic conditions, company profit margin requirements, etc. Presently, the retail premium on an ASE is approximately fourteen (14) percent over the spot price of silver.


In the end, the design of the Type I ASE from 1986 to 2021 is credited to two(2) persons:

​Adolf A. Weinman, designer of obverse side

​The obverse is known as the "Walking Liberty"designed in 1916 for a new half dollar. It depicts Liberty draped in an American flag holding a "bouquet of laurel and oak" walking proudly towards the sun. Her outstretched hand symbolizes the "bestowal" of freedom. on the top of the coin is written"Liberty" "In God We Trust" is located to right lower portion of the design, with the "date" of minting on the bottom.

John M Mercanti, designer of reverse side

​According to Mr. Mercanti the reverse design is an heraldic Eagle its design "formal, facing forward with wings spread wide, 13 stars in a reversed triangle over the eagle's head" on the top of the coin is written "United States of America", with "1OZ. Fine Silver OneDollar" appearing on the bottom. engraved on a ribbon extending across the eagle's wings, held in the mouth, from left to right on the wings is" E Pluribus" (left wing), "Unum" ( right wing).


The question now becomes, why should collectors/investors purchase American Silver Eagles?


First and foremost the American Silver Eagle is legal tender and the purity of the composition is set forth and guaranteed by legislative intent. Secondly, it the the most recognized and liquid bullion coin in the world.


More to follow in coming days




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