US Coins

Monday Morning Brief for May 25, 2020: Another American Eagle

The Mint will issue a Proof 2020-W End of World War II 75th Anniversary American Eagle silver dollar, the sixth for the series this year. Is the Mint issuing too many in the series?

Original images courtesy of United States Mint.

After deciding on a mintage of 1,945 pieces for the Proof 2020-W End of World War II 75th Anniversary American Eagle gold $50 coin — a decision drawing criticism from Mint customers for the smallness of the number — Mint officials revealed a mintage of 75,000 for the silver version of the World War II tribute coin. That is a much better number. 

The American Eagle silver dollar, in its bullion and numismatic versions, is arguably the most collected coin in the world. Every year, millions of bullion versions are struck to meet investor and collector demand, and hundreds of thousands of numismatic versions are sold. The American Eagle silver dollar has become a huge money maker for the United States Mint, the result of marketing decisions that have both pleased and angered collectors.

When it debuted in 1986, the Mint offered it in just two versions: a bullion coin, called the Uncirculated coin, and a Proof coin. For years, the Mint was satisfied with offering just the two versions. Collectors were happy, too. Then came 1995 and the decision to issue a Proof 1995-W American Eagle silver dollar in addition to the annual Proof coin from the San Francisco Mint. Mint officials offered the special coin only in a set also containing the four Proof American Eagle gold coins, at a price just south of $1,000, a cost that many collectors who happily purchased the annual silver Proof coin could not afford — and a decision that many collectors angrily criticized. Today that coin, with a mintage of 30,125, retails for thousands of dollars.

In 2006, the Mint added two new finishes to the American Eagle lineup: Reverse Proof, and Uncirculated (different than the bullion finish and popularly called “Burnished”).
Since then, the Mint has issued the coin in more finishes, including Enhanced Uncirculated in 2017 and 2018, and Enhanced Reverse Proof from two Mints in 2019. The 2019-S version, limited to 30,000 pieces, “sold out” in 20 minutes.

Is the Mint issuing too many versions of the coin? Some collectors say yes, especially when some coins have mintages that are too small to ensure every collector who wants one gets one. 

The mintage of 75,000 for the End of World War II coin, though not huge, is better than 1,945, or 30,000, for that matter. Nonetheless, expect a sellout in its first day of availability. 

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