US Coins

30th Anniversary silver Proof Eagles debut announced

The individual Proof 2016-W American Eagle silver dollar will go on sale at noon ET Sept. 16, making one of the U.S. Mint's most popular annual products finally available to collectors, months later than is typical for the coin.

The U.S. Mint’s release dates for the Proof and Uncirculated 2016 coins were pushed back, much later than normal, to enable Mint officials to meet the requirements of legislation passed in December 2015 requiring special edge treatment for the coins. The legislation mandates the coins bear a special edge inscription denoting the series’ 30th anniversary (the coin typically carries a reeded edge).

Typically, the Proof American Eagle silver dollar is one of the first products offered by the Mint each year. In 2015, for example, the 2015-W edition went on sale Jan. 2, the first day of business in the calendar year for the Mint. The Uncirculated 2015-W American Eagle silver dollar went on sale March 26.

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Mint officials announced the mid-September sales date for the Proof version on Aug. 1. No date is yet announced for the Uncirculated coin's release. Pricing also is not yet announced for either version. Neither product has a mintage limit, and no household ordering limits will be set

Mandated edge

The required 30TH ANNIVERSARY edge device is to appear only on the edge of the Proof and Uncirculated coins, and only for the two 2016 issues. The anniversary edge device does not appear on the 2016 American Eagle silver bullion coins. The bullion strikes retain the standard reeded edge.

In addition to being offered individually, the Proof version is also to be included in the 2016 Congratulations set. That coin, too, will have the anniversary edge.

An edge device marking the program's 30th anniversary was required under provisions of The Bullion and Collectible Coin Production and Efficiency and Cost Savings Act, signed into law Dec. 4.

Introduced by Rep. William P. Huizenga, R-Mich., chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, the measure also grants the Treasury some discretion in changing the composition of 90 percent silver coins.

Edge device

The mandate for the edge design required special edge collar dies and tooling to be fabricated at the Philadelphia Mint to impart the edge inscription.

Coin World traveled to the West Point Mint to document production June 9 of Proof versions. The details of that visit that follow were embargoed by U.S. Mint officials until a release date for the coin could be announced.

The edge inscription marking the 30th anniversary says just that — 30th ANNIVERSARY — and with a lowercase "th." The lettering is raised in the collar die, making it incuse on the coin. The inscription is imparted on the plain edge during the striking process, from one section of a tripartite, or three-piece, segmented collar.

The three pieces of the collar engage together at the same time that the obverse and reverse dies come together with a blank planchet already fed between. The metal flows from the striking pressure into the edge collar, where the edge of the coin receives the imprint of the edge design, before the dies and edge collar retract.

West Point Mint press operator Jumel Alston said the die alignment is such that the celebratory wording will appear in the same location on each coin struck — at the 6 o’clock position, relative to the date viewed on the coin's obverse. The other two segments impart a plain edge.

The obverse and reverse dies are oriented with the obverse, or Walking Liberty side, as the upper or hammer die, and the reverse, the Heraldic Eagle side, as the lower, or anvil die. Alston randomly pulls struck coins after production for further examination, to ensure the dies are aligned properly and there is no rotation.

The tripartite collar has the inscription centered in the edge segment on which it appears. The edge on a struck coin also exhibits three single vertical lines of raised metal, from where the silver in the planchet was forced into the minuscule gap between the collar segments.

The Proof and Uncirculated versions both are struck three times on a Gräbener GMP 360 press under 225 tons of pressure per strike. 

The die faces are periodically wiped to remove any built up grime or debris.

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