The iconic American Silver Eagle, recognized and beloved as the official silver bullion of the United States, has been known to have varying numbers minted each year. For many collectors, the lowest minted of these are considered the most desirable, so which is the lowest minted Silver Eagle?
The lowest minted bullion American Silver Eagle is the 1996 coin, with just 3.6 million pieces produced. This is a tiny number when compared with the mintage from 2015, which saw 47 million Silver Eagles being minted.
However, this figure only determines the lowest-minted bullion Silver Eagle, and alone says little about the general trends of mintage for this valuable coin. Read on to learn about the lowest minted of other Silver Eagle editions, and why it matters in numismatics.
What Is An American Silver Eagle?
An American Silver Eagle is the official silver bullion coin of the United States. Instantly recognizable for its depiction of the patriotic Walking Liberty on the obverse of the coin, and the majestic eagle on the reverse, the American Silver Eagles are well-known and valued among the numismatic community.
The face value of American Silver Eagles is one US dollar. However, they have an intrinsic value worth so much more than that. Each coin is minted from 99.9% pure silver, making them popular amongst investors in silver, and collectors looking for a valuable, annual collection.
Why Do Mintage Rates Matter?
Owing to their impressive purity value, prestigious status and overall appeal, American Silver Eagles are often highly sought-after by coin collectors and silver investors alike. For both of these seekers, mintage plays a large part in determining the intrinsic value of a coin, and this is why their mintage figures are so significant.
Put simply, the lower the number of coins minted, the rarer they will be. To hold a rare coin in one’s collection not only adds numismatic appeal but also value, thus pinpointing lower-minted coins as the most desirable to purchase.
However, this idea is very much relative to the coin in question. Since American Silver Eagles are so popular a coin, they are more likely to hold more of a consistent demand among a wider range of dealers.
A lesser-recognized coin with low mintage will still be extremely rare and valuable to collectors, but may have less of an appeal to investors, who could prefer to select the more popular and thus reliable coins for their portfolio.
The Lowest Minted Bullion Silver Eagle
To date, the American Silver Eagle bullion coin with the lowest mintage is the 1996 Silver Eagle. Only 3,603,386 of these coins were minted during that year, alongside 498,293 proof editions.
In fact, since the coin’s creation in 1986, 1996 was the only year its mintage figures dropped below four million. Although the mintages for these coins fluctuate quite substantially year-on-year, more recent dates have seen up to and over three times the number of Eagles minted than in 1996. In 2020, for instance, over 31 million bullion Silver Eagles were minted. That’s a significant difference!
Other Issues Of Silver Eagles And Their Mintage Figures
Alongside the production of American Silver Eagle bullion coins, the US Mint also annually mints proof and uncirculated versions of the coin as well. Although these versions are typically minted in much lower quantities than their bullion counterpart, they are just as widely collected and valued.
Uncirculated Silver Eagles
Uncirculated Silver Eagles are minted in much smaller quantities than both the proof and bullion coins. Known by many within the numismatic community as ‘Burnished Silver Eagles’ due to their unique matte finish, these valuable coins have been in annual production since 2006.
The 2019 Uncirculated Silver Eagle would most likely be regarded as the lowest minted of its kind, with just 128,564 coins minted. It is interesting to note, however, that in 2011, just under 100,000 uncirculated Silver Eagles were minted with the rare S mintmark of the San Francisco Mint.
This release was particularly noteworthy due to the fact that all other uncirculated Silver Eagles to date have been minted at West Point Mint, and could arguably signify that it was, in fact, these uncirculated Silver Eagles with the lowest mintage.
What that being said, the 2011 S-marked Eagles were joined by a further 409,000 ‘regular’ uncirculated coins, putting the overall 2011 mintage at the highest of all the uncirculated Silver Eagle releases.
Proof Silver Eagles
Proof Silver Eagles have been released almost annually since 1986, alongside the bullion version of the coin. The lowest overall mintage of these would be the 1994 release, which totaled at 372,168 coins produced.
There was a proof coin minted at the West Point mint in 1995. This was as opposed to the usual proof mint in Philadelphia. These “1995-W Proof Silver Eagles” were marked with a W mintmark, and just 30,125 of these coins were minted.
No proof-version Silver Eagles were released whatsoever in 2009, so arguably it would be that year which has the lowest mintage figures of the proof coins, with absolutely none to count at all.
As previously noted, the mintage numbers for American Silver Eagles have fluctuated annually since the coin’s creation in 1986. Typically, fewer than 10 million bullion Silver Eagles were minted each year through the 1980s, 1990s and most of the 2000s, (with the exception of 1987 at 11 million coins), and this figure has risen dramatically since then.
In 2008, mintage of Silver Eagles almost doubled to 20 million, with numbers remaining above 15 million bullions each year since that date. Even despite the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halting production in 2020, the mintage of the coins was re-allocated to a different mint and over 30 million coins were issued.
The increase in mintage reflects the unfalteringly high demand for American Silver Eagles, both by collectors and investors alike. The 2008 spike in particular reflects the sudden demand for the bullion coins as a considerably reliable hedge against inflation.
Although we cannot predict the mintage figures of American Silver Eagles, it will be interesting to see whether or not the record held by the 1996 issue as being the lowest minted will be broken in upcoming years.
What Is The Highest Minted Silver Eagle?
Of the bullion coins, the year with the highest mintage of American Silver Eagles was 2015. This year saw the production of a staggering 47 million Silver Eagle bullions, with the overall mintage being 47,931,397 coins, inclusive of the proof and uncirculated versions.
In total, over 500 million American Silver Eagle bullion coins have been minted, a staggering amount since their modest mintage of 5 million during their year of inception in 1986.
The lowest minted Silver Eagle is the 1996 version of the bullion coin. In that year there were just 3.6 million of the coins minted. This is a small number when compared to years like 2015, when nearly 50 million American Silver Eagles were minted.