The Feb. 10 column focused on building a basic set of Mint State
silver American Eagles comprising 35 coins in all. That set includes
28 bullion issues without Mint marks, plus seven “Burnished”
Uncirculated issues with Mint marks — six from the West Point Mint and
one from the San Francisco Mint. The advanced collector, however, may
look beyond these coins to include a few more.
The first candidate for inclusion is the 2008-W American Eagle,
Reverse of 2007 silver dollar. In 2008, the Mint introduced a modified
hub that involved a subtle reworking of the design. According to the
Mint, changes were made to accommodate new digital engraving
technology. The most notably updated feature was the font on the
reverse legends; it was flattened and lost its variable width strokes.
Additionally, a tail was added to the lower right terminus of the U,
making it identifiable from the prior reverse style.
Soon after collectors received their 2008-W silver American Eagles
from the Mint, they reported finding 2008 coins with the Reverse of
2007. A small number of dies leftover from the prior year were used to
produce coins, creating this transitional mule. It’s now known that
approximately 47,000 coins were struck. Since their initial release,
this coin has risen steadily in value. Today, examples graded MS-69
are worth nearly $600, and MS-70 can trade for up to $1,000.
For at least a decade, from 2001 to 2010, all American Eagle silver
bullion coins were minted at the West Point Mint. Due to increased
demand, starting in 2011, the San Francisco Mint also struck silver
American Eagles. Although issued without Mint mark and visually
indistinguishable, some collectors like to acquire examples of coins
struck at both Mints.
Bullion silver American Eagles are sold to authorized distributors
in green plastic boxes of 500 coins, commonly called “monster boxes.”
The boxes are sealed shut with straps emblazoned with their Mint of
origin. Although some variation exists in strap types, coins from the
West Point facility are sealed with white straps that read WEST POINT
MINT in blue ink. Coins from the San Francisco Mint are sealed with
yellow straps reading U.S. MINT — SAN FRANCISCO in black ink.
Once a coin is removed from a monster box, there is no way to know
which Mint it came from without a method to preserve its provenance.
Fortunately, third-party grading services perform this service. When
they receive coins in sealed, strapped, monster boxes, they can label
Today, it’s possible to buy a silver American Eagle described as a
2011-(W) or 2011-(S). Parentheses are used to indicate a Mint of
origin when the Mint mark does not appear on the coin. Coins from both
Mints for all four years are valued similarly.
With the 2008-W American Eagle, Reverse of 2007 coin and two bullion
coins from each Mint, 2011 to date, the total number of silver
American Eagles in the Mint State set now rises by five coins, to 40.