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A Burnished Finish
I seem to have forgotten what a “burnished” finish refers to on
Uncirculated American Eagle silver dollars. Will you please explain
this to me? I purchase the Uncirculated silver American Eagles in
original boxes from the U.S. Mint. When did the Mint start offering
the original boxes and are the coins in them burnished?
Donald E. Bratz - Mapleton Depot, Pa.
A: When the United States Mint began issuing silver and gold
American Eagles in 1986, it offered them in two versions: Uncirculated
bullion coins for investors and Proof coins for collectors. The Mint
continued to offer the coins in both finishes for 20 years, through
the end of 2005.
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The Mint expanded its product offerings starting in 2006 and changed
its marketing practices, leading the collecting community to adopt a
new descriptive phrase for the new products. Mint officials in 2006
introduced what they called “American Eagle Gold and Silver
Uncirculated coins,” intended for collectors and bearing the Mint
marks of the Mint facility where they were produced.
The Mint has sold the Uncirculated American Eagle coins directly to
collectors and other customers, like other numismatic products. When
sold individually, each coin is placed into a protective plastic
capsule that is then inserted into a box, as the reader remarks.
Although the Mint calls the collector American Eagles
“Uncirculated,” much of the collecting community calls them “Burnished
Uncirculated” — a descriptive phrase not used by the Mint.
Also in 2006, Mint officials began marketing the bullion pieces —
still bearing an Uncirculated finish — as “American Eagle Bullion
Coins.” As of 2006, the Mint has stopped referring to the bullion
coins as “Uncirculated” even though the coins bear an Uncirculated finish.
When announcing the Uncirculated 2006 American Eagle coins in 2005,
Mint officials stated that the new coins would feature the same finish
as the bullion coins, but unlike the bullion pieces, would be struck
on planchets that were burnished. Planchets used for the bullion coins
do not go through the burnishing process used for the collector
Since the first coins were introduced in 2006, the Mint has offered
Uncirculated silver, gold and platinum American Eagles, though not in
The coins have been offered individually, with some pieces,
including the silver American Eagles, also offered in special sets.