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First Mint Release of 2018 – Proof American Silver Eagle

January 8, 2018 0 Comments

The New Year celebrations had barely been cleaned away when the coin collecting year got going, with the release by the US Mint of the 2018-W Proof American Silver Eagle. This series, started in 1986, is part of the staple diet of collectors, with many making the new Silver Eagle an annual ritual. This year’s coin, the 32nd in the series, features on the obverse (that is, the ‘heads’ side) Adolph A. Weinman’s famous “Walking Liberty” design. This iconic figure of a woman walking towards a rising sun with her arms filled with branches of oak and laurel. These are symbolic of military and civil glory. She spreads freedom around her with an outstretched arm, and enters a new dawn. This design first featured on half-dollar coins from 1916 to 1947. Above Liberty’s head is the word, LIBERTY and IN GOD WE TRUST is engraved on the right. 2018 shows at the bottom of the obverse.

The reverse (the ‘tails’ side) is a more modern design, one created by John Mercanti, who was the Mint’s chief engraver until 2010. His reverse for the Silver Eagle has been a constant since the series began in 1986. It features a crisply-defined heraldic eagle, wings outspread, and bearing a shield. In the right foot are a bundle of arrows, and in the right an olive branch. These symbols of peaceful preparedness for defense link perfectly with the branches in Liberty’s arms. In his beak is a banner bearing the words, IN PLURIBUS UNUM, which many people know means ‘out of many, one’ – a reference to the formation of one nation from the 13 founding colonies. The words, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 1 OZ. FINE SILVER and ONE DOLLAR are inscribed around the eagle.

The mint mark ‘W’ can be found by the eagle’s right foot on this coin. This indicates that the coins are minted at the West Point minting facility. Later in the year there will be a second release of Silver Eagle coins, minted in San Francisco, with the mint mark ‘S’ on them. These coins have a proof finish. This is a coin with the design frosted and the background area polished to a mirror-like finish. Since the first release, American Silver Eagles have kept a standard specification and design, differing only in the date and mint mark. All the Silver Eagles weight 1 ounce (31.103 grams), and are 99.9% pure silver. They have a diameter of 1.598 inches (40.60 mm).

These coins are always popular, with over 200,000 being sold on release day, and annual sales usually topping 300,000. They represent a relatively low-cost way to collect silver, and most collectors love having every coin in a series, something relatively easy to achieve with this long-running series. It should not be confused with bullion Silver Eagles, which are available only through dealers, and are basically a way of buying silver, rather than of collecting coins. They lack the proof finish, and they can also be easily distinguished by the absence of a mint mark.

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