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The American Eagle 20th Anniversary Set
Posted by Jay Turner, NGC Grader and Attributor on 9/1/2006
As the American Eagle program celebrates a milestone anniversary, it is launching a commemorative set with the potential to be an instant classic.
Has it really been 20 years since the
American Eagle program started? Actually no, it has been 21, but that is beside
the point. The American Eagle 20th Anniversary set is about to be released by the
United States Mint to celebrate the milestone.
The American Eagle was first released in late 1986. Since then, it has become a
very popular item among collectors, dealers and investors alike. The governmentally
backed silver, gold and later platinum coinage is not only something that could
be trusted, but also collected and traded easily.
In 1995, the 10th Year Anniversary of the American Eagle was celebrated with the
release of a 10th Anniversary set. The set included one each of the Proof Gold Eagle
denominations, 1/10 ounce, ¼ ounce, ½ ounce and 1 ounce. It also included a 1995
Proof Silver Eagle featuring a W, or West Point, mint mark. This was the first Silver
Eagle to feature the W mintmark. The set sold for $995 and, with a total of 30,125
minted, the Eagle became an instant rarity, quickly surpassing the price of the
four gold coins combined. Today the set sells for about $7,000 and the silver eagle
sells for about $5,000. In PF70, the 1995-W Silver Eagle can fetch more than $15,000.
In 2006 the United States mint officially announced plans for an American Eagle
Commemorative set. Three sets containing between two and three coins would be issued.
The sets included the proof version of the Eagle, a mint state mint marked version
of the Eagle and for the first time a "reverse proof" Eagle. The sets
were broken down into a three-piece gold set containing one of each, a three-piece
silver set containing one of each and a two-piece gold and silver set containing
one of each mint state mint marked coin.
The significance of the sets is in their unique coin offerings. For the first time,
the United States is purposely issuing mint state Eagles bearing the West Point
mint mark. In 1999, the United States accidentally minted and released 1/10 ounce
and 1/4 ounce gold Eagles using unfinished Proof Dies containing the W mint mark.
These coins can bring several hundred to thousands of dollars depending on condition.
However these coins were accidentally issued and only appeared on those two denominations.
The anniversary sets contain a Silver Eagle with a West Point mint mark with a mintage
of 280,000 and a Gold Eagle with a West Point mint mark with a mintage of 30,000.
Even more unique is the "reverse proof" Eagle. Never before has the United
States minted a "reverse proof." Much like the bullion coins of Australia
and other countries, the coin will feature a unique finish with a brilliant relief
and frosted field. With a mintage of 250,000 for the silver and 10,000 for the gold,
the coins will be not only be popular but in extremely short supply compared to
other recent mint issues.
The final coin will be the standard proof version of the coin. While it may not
be as unique as the other coins in the set, it might prove to be the rarest coin
the sets have to offer. The sets come unsealed from the United States mint and therefore
it is a requirement of NGC that sets submitted for grading should be sent in the
unopened mint shipping box for the proof coin to receive the designation of 20th
Anniversary Set. As a result, as collectors and dealers receive their orders from
the mint and open the packaging to inspect and admire their coins, they will lose
the designation for the coin which will make it difficult to find a designated proof
issue coin. For those who were willing to get the designation by not opening the
package, they may have a coin much like the Millennium Silver Eagle, which can only
be designated Millennium Set when received intact making it a key for the series.
With only 250,000 Silver and 10,000 Gold minted, getting a certified proof 20th
Anniversary coin could be very tough depending on whether or not people open the
The United State Mint prevented dealers, investors, speculators and others from
obtaining too many of these sets by limiting it to ten of each set per person. The
small mintage and high price of sets, $2,610 for the three-piece gold, $850 for
the two-piece and $100 for the three-piece silver, limited many from obtaining large
quantities. Regardless, the three piece gold set sold out within the day thus adding
to the allure of the set.
Ultimately, it will be up to the market and collectors to see how popular and expensive
these sets will eventually become. With such a small mintage and high demand they
could eventually prove to be a classical rarity and key for the eagle sets.