Will the 2015-W Uncirculated Silver Eagle Become a Key Coin?
Recently there has been a lot of coverage of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the American Silver Eagle in 2016, including in this column just last week (https://www.coinworld.com/voices/louis-golino/2015/12/collectors_likelyto.html).
So far we know that the numismatic versions, including the proof and uncirculated “W” Silver Eagles, will feature smooth rather than reeded edges and will carry incuse inscriptions noting the 30th anniversary of the world’s #1 silver coin.
We also know that as a result of the U.S. Mint’s interpretation of the legislation authorizing the edge lettering, no 2015-dated Silver Eagles can be sold next year, which is why the Mint plans to end sales of both numismatic versions on December 30. This has never been done before.
It is interesting that the Mint’s interpretation of the law focus on when the coins are sold as opposed to when they were minted. In the past only commemorative coins from one year could not be sold the following year, while other numismatic products could be sold for multiple years.
At this point the 2015-W coin is running 3,420 coins behind the current low mintage coin of the burnished uncirculated W-mintmarked series, the 2013-W issue with 221,981 sold.* One must include sales of both single coins and the annual uncirculated dollar set to determine the total number sold.
It is possible a new low will be set with the 2015-W coin, depending on how many coins are sold between now and the end of the year. In the December 13 sales report from the Mint, 2,650 coins were sold in the previous week, which is not surprising in the aftermath of the Mint’s announcement that sales will end soon.
The total for the 2015-W issue at this point is 218,561 coins.
So with a little over two more weeks of sales, it is quite likely the 2015-W will exceed the mintage of the 2013-W unless the Mint ends sales earlier than expected because it depletes its current inventory, and it is too late to produce more coins.
The 2015 proof coin has been backordered for the past week, so it appears more of those are being made. This coin will not set a low, but it will have a lower mintage than most recent issues due to the shorter sales period.
It also is an open question how much this all matters since the 2013-W coin has not so far seen much of a premium increase despite being the lowest mintage coin within the uncirculated series. Some collectors believe than if the series ever ends, at that point the lowest mintage coin will increase substantially.
*The 2008-W with reverse of 2007 error coin has a substantially lower mintage, but I am only referring to the basic W-mintmarked burnished uncirculated series.