Some of the 500-coin boxes of 2015 American Eagle silver bullion
coins bearing tracking numbers attributed to Philadelphia Mint
production may actually have contained coins struck at the West Point Mint.
Determining the origin of production can mean the difference of a
coin retailing for under $25 or certified examples graded by a
third-party grading service selling for hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Gold coin resistance at U.S. Mint and a
deceptive but detectable counterfeit Indian Head cent:
Another column in the June 12 Coin World details the discovery of
what seemed to be a rare 1917 French Indo-China 10-cent piece.
While the U.S.
Mint reaffirmed May 25 that the mintages released for 2015
American Eagle silver bullion coin production at the Philadelphia Mint
and West Point Mint were correct, officials acknowledge there are
discrepancies concerning the numbers appearing on the outside of the boxes.
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Some of the tracking number patterns or sequence ranges used for
boxes containing Philadelphia Mint coins may also have been used in
tracking West Point Mint output, although no duplicate numbers are
believed to have been used.
In their May 25 announcement, U.S. Mint officials said to expect
more details from the Mint by the end of June.
In March 20 responses to Freedom of Information Act requests (filed
in February by
World and Numismatic Guaranty Corp., independent of one
another), U.S. Mint officials indicated that more than 47 million 2015
American Eagle silver bullion coins were struck at the West Point
facility, but only 79,640 were struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
The Philadelphia mintage is the lowest bullion coin output for an
individual facility since the U.S. Mint introduced the American Eagle
silver bullion coin in November 1986.
The coins are intended to be identical, no matter which facility
struck them, so identifying them absent some other supporting
documentation should be impossible. However, the information released
by the Mint about the tracking numbers on their initial packaging has
been used by grading services in identifying the coins and by dealers
in marketing them.
The Philadelphia Mint’s low production along with the even lower
combined number of examples certified by NGC, Professional Coin Grading
Service and ANACS as being Philadelphia Mint strikes have
driven secondary market prices for the coins to levels higher by
several factors than the year’s bullion coins that are unidentifiable
or specifically identified to be not Philadelphia Mint strikes.
Mint State 69 examples of what were identified as Philadelphia Mint
strikes have sold on eBay for nearly $600 each, while examples earning
the lofty MS-70 label have been offered in a range from under $8,000
to nearly $20,000.
At least one 500-coin box offered as Philadelphia Mint-struck coins
at a price of $229,500 was sold for an undisclosed “Best Offer” price.
Despite the Mint’s May 25 announcement suggesting some confusion
about the tracking numbers, NGC officials say they are confident they
were correct in their determination of which examples of the 2015
American Eagle silver bullion coins should be certified as of
Philadelphia Mint origin, and they stand by their determinations.
NGC is awaiting responses from the Mint to a follow-up FOIA request
filed based on information supplied or not supplied pursuant to its
first FOIA inquiry in February.
“The US Mint statement says that ‘some of the information that was
released on March 20 was erroneous’ but it does not specify the
information that was erroneous,” Max Spiegel, senior vice president of
sales and marketing for NGC’s parent company, Certified Collectibles
Group, said via email May 30.
“Although your article and question implies that the U.S. Mint
statement affects attributions of 2015(P) American Silver Eagle
bullion coins, these coins were not specifically mentioned in the
official U.S. Mint statement.
“We had previously determined that some U.S. Mint ‘monster’ boxes
did not appear to conform to the numbering system released by the US
Mint in response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and
we therefore excluded these boxes from the criteria that we had set
for Mint facility attributions. We had also paused our attribution of
2015(P) American Silver Eagle bullion coins while we waited for the
response to a second FOIA request that we filed.
“The U.S. Mint’s May 25th statement has not changed any of our
attribution policies and we await the further clarification that is
expected by the end of June. We believe that we have accurately
attributed the Mint facilities on all American Silver Eagle bullion
coins that we have certified based on both the numbering system
provided by the US Mint as well as our own criteria developed through
“We consider the specific criteria that we developed to evaluate and
attribute these boxes and coins to be proprietary.”
Officials from PCGS and ANACS did not respond to follow-up questions
on their certification of 2015 (P) American Eagle silver bullion coins.