It’s hard to believe that the Proof 1995-W American Eagle 1-ounce
silver bullion coin was issued 17 years ago. With a mintage of just
30,125, it remains the lowest-mintage silver American Eagle and a
coveted modern key issue.
To put its mintage into perspective, 100,000 of the five-coin 2011
American Eagle 25th Anniversary Silver Coin sets were produced. Yet if
that set’s sales process could be characterized as a frenzy, the set
containing the Proof 1995-W American Eagle silver coin would be better
called a slow burn.
It was included as a “complimentary” piece in a special five-coin
set honoring the 10th anniversary of the American Eagle bullion coin
program. The set also contained four Proof American Eagle gold bullion
coins. The set had an authorized mintage of 45,000 sets, but failed to
Collectors were critical of the high cost of the set. A large
number of collectors collected the American Eagle silver coin but many
could not afford the $999 price for the set.
In a June 26, 1995, Guest Commentary in Coin World,
then-Mint Director Philip N. Diehl addressed the complaints, noting
that while the Mint received “a few dozen calls and letter of
complaint,” the 16,000 orders received to that date counterbalanced this.
Diehl wrote, “Considering that the price of making a complaint is
the cost of a postage stamp whereas the price of a 10th Anniversary
American Eagle Proof set is $999, a 200-1 ratio of orders to
complaints would seem to be a strong vote of approval from our customers.”
On Sept. 11, 1995, Coin World reported that Diehl
suggested a strategy for collectors to obtain a 1995-W silver issue at
a “bargain” price of between $50 and $100. He urged collectors to
order the sets using credit cards, sell the gold coins, pay the debt
with the proceeds and keep the dollar. He characterized this strategy
as, “very do-able for those on a limited budget” adding, “It’s a
low-risk or no-risk opportunity.”
Collectors with the prescience to purchase the set in 1995 have
Throughout the 1990s, nice Proof 69 Deep Cameo examples of the
issue sold for less than $1,000 when offered at auction, eventually
peaking at the $5,000 level in 2007. Today, Proof 69 Deep Cameo
examples routinely sell at auction at the $3,000 level, while lower
grade representatives may be acquired for as low as $2,500.
This issue is plagued with spotting and other minor problems, and
Proof 70 Deep Cameo examples are extremely rare. On March 15, 2010, an
example graded Proof 70 Deep Cameo by Professional Coin Grading
Service realized an astounding $46,000 when offered in a Teletrade auction.
When buying 10th Anniversary sets, collectors should inspect the
dollar to make sure it has the W Mint mark, as many sets have had the
dollar removed and replaced with a Proof 1995-P issue, which was sold individually.
Steven Roach is associate editor of Coin World. Email him