The United States Mint begins the new year with a subtly modified Silver Eagle that has series enthusiasts sitting up and taking note.
When compared to the 2007 American Silver Eagle, the 2008 issue has many noticeable design changes. In order to make changes in the design of the American Silver Eagle, the United States Mint must create new hubs. A hub contains a raised image or relief of a coin’s design and is impressed into steel to created new dies. Dies have an incused image of the coin’s design and are used in the actual striking of coins. This year, NGC believes, the US Mint transitioned from traditional engraved hubs – made from reducing a hand engraved galvano – to laser engraved hubs.
During the transition process, sometimes referred to as rehubbing, several design changes were made with an emphasis on the lettering on both sides of the coin. The letters on the 2008 Silver Eagle are taller and skinnier, filling the fields more so than in previous years.
Many of the lettering changes can be seen on the obverse:
- The L in LIBERTY has an angled feature to the foot rather than two straight lines forming the letter. The foot of the letter is also shorter than prior years.
- The E of LIBERTY is also quite different in that the center portion extends to be in line with the upper extension of the letter. On prior years, the center stem does not extend to the length of the upper stem.
- The G of GOD has no serif.
- Probably the most obvious and interesting redesign effect is the U of TRUST as well as the U of UNITED on the coin’s reverse. On the 2008 issues the U is shaped as a small case “u” would be. That is, it shows the down stroke on the right side of the letter.
- The date is much smaller on the 2008 than on the 2007 dated American Silver Eagle
On the reverse, one of the most obvious differences from previous years can be found in the stars above the eagle. On the 2008 American Silver Eagle, the stars appear flatter, slightly larger and closer together. They also occupy more space of the design, that is their overall arrangement is larger. Other notable changes to the reverse legends include the following:
- The letters of 1 OZ. FINE SILVER ~ ONE DOLLAR are all taller and actually sit closer to the rim than in previous years.
- The tilde, ~, is also markedly different in shape than on prior years’ issues.
The 2008 issue, of course, is not alone in design changes. Looking carefully at American Silver Eagles from prior years, a number of styles changes will be noticed. The most obvious is a change to the finish of these coins which ranges from a shiny surface used early in the series to the matte finish of today. For collectors, it is exciting to know that even though the coins are similar year to year, they can look forward to minor changes that only a specialist might recognize.