Precious Metals

Grading firms certify silver Eagles from three Mints

While Professional Coin Grading Service and Numismatic Guaranty Corp. are grading and encapsulating 2014 to 2017 American Eagle silver bullion coin production at the West Point, San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints, PCGS won’t certify some coins until clarification can be obtained from the U.S. Mint on its shipping box number system.

“For 2014–2017 boxes that have a sticker on the side that includes the designation ‘WPM,’ PCGS believes that these [500-coin] boxes, regardless of their serial number, originated in West Point,” according to PCGS Vice President Mark Stephenson. “Therefore, at this time, and until we receive further clarification from the U.S. Mint, we will not be attributing such boxes to Philadelphia or San Francisco.”

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Acting upon the original documents provided to Coin World by the U.S. Mint, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and published online, PCGS began to grade, identify and encapsulate the bullion coins.

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Coin World's FOIA request was filed in February, at the same time that NGC independently sought the same information. The same information in response to both requests was provided to both Coin World and NGC, from which that Florida-based grading service developed its own grading label program for the coins.

PCGS explained in announcing its labeling program, “Until now, the information about how many American silver Eagles were made in each of the other branches has not been released to the public. Instead, the Mint’s figures officially reflected the total mintage, and listed those mintages as having been produced at West Point.

“However, the FOIA documents reveal a method of identifying where a given box of silver Eagles was minted. Following this method, PCGS will attribute coins from such boxes as having been produced at the Branch Mint at which it was made.”

For example, an American Eagle silver bullion coin minted at the Philadelphia Mint in 2015 would be attributed “2015-(P).”

Understanding the numbering system was key to enabling PCGS and NGC to identify coins by Mint of origin, since none of the bullion coins have Mint marks.

The “key” issue from the 2014 to 2017 period is the 2015 coin struck at the Philadelphia Mint, with a mintage of 79,640 pieces, a tiny fraction of the total in comparison to the nearly 47 million pieces struck at the West Point Mint (none were struck for 2015 at the San Francisco Mint).

Based on the information in the Mint's response, owners of Mint-sealed boxes of American Eagle silver bullion coins from 2014 to 2017 can find the box number, which is written in black marker, and determine the specific Mint facility where the box and its contents originated.

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