Readers Ask column from the Jan. 9, 2017,
I purchased a 2007-W silver American Eagle certified Mint State 70
Guaranty Corp. on eBay. The description said it was a Burnished
Silver Eagle but the label did not say “burnished.” I noticed in
your price guide that you have a price for a Proof 2007-W American
Eagle and another price for a Burnished Uncirculated 2007-W American
Eagle. I am new to coin collecting and wonder if I bought the wrong
item. Does the label on the slab have to say “burnished”? I noticed
the 2015-W American Eagle does say “burnished” on the label.
Larry Herbst / Via email
Much of the confusion lies with changes in 2006 to the U.S. Mint’s
terminology and with the hobby’s use an alternative term. From 1986 to
2005, the Mint referred to the American Eagle gold and silver bullion
coins as having an “Uncirculated” finish. In 2006, the Mint celebrated
the 20th anniversary of the American Eagle program by introducing a
collector “Uncirculated” coin while at the same dropping the same term
from all marketing materials for the bullion coin versions, even
though those pieces still had an Uncirculated finish.
Connect with Coin World:
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Follow us on Twitter
The Uncirculated finishes used on the bullion and collector versions
of the American Eagles since 2006 differ slightly, because planchets
for the collector versions are burnished with special media. The hobby
seized upon the term “burnished” and eventually began referring to the
collector coins as “Burnished Uncirculated.”
As to why the reference was not made on the grading label, I turned
to NGC grader and Coin World columnist Scott Schechter for an explanation.
“When the Uncirculated Silver Eagles first came out in 2006, we did
not designate them as burnished,” Schechter said via email.
“Historically, our labels did not include additional descriptions
where there was no ambiguity. Since issue, however, these coins have
been widely called ‘Burnished Silver Eagles’ by collectors. ...
“When we modified our label to allow longer descriptions and because
of requests/questions from collectors, we added this terminology to