This year a small number of 2015-dated American Silver Eagle bullion coins were struck at the U.S. Mint location in Philadelphia, according to U.S. Mint officials. This is the first time since these coins were first issued in 1986 that any coins were minted at that facility.
Adam Stump, the Mint’s deputy director for Office of Corporate Communications, told Coin World magazine on February 6 that the Philadelphia Mint did a process validation run of 70,000 2015-dated American Silver Eagles.
“The 70,000 bullion coins made were shipped to West Point for final packaging and palletized for shipment to authorized purchasers. The packaging and banding is the same between the facilities, and bullion coins have no mint mark. These coins have already been issued to authorized purchasers,” Stump said.
In other words, because the coins struck in Philadelphia were mixed together with the rest that were struck at West Point, which is where these coins are usually struck, and since the bullion coins do not carry mint marks, there is no way to know where they were actually produced.
As a result of this situation, the major grading services have announced that they will not be encapsulating any 2015 Silver Eagle coins with labels indicating that they were minted in Philadelphia.
On January 20th Mint officials announced that all 2015-dated Silver Eagles would be produced at West Point, but sometime between then and early February, they decided to make some coins in Philadelphia.
In 2011, when demand surged for these coins, and the West Point Mint had trouble producing enough coins to meet public demand at a time when bullion prices were rising, the Mint announced that some production of the coins was being done at the San Francisco Mint facility.
But unlike the situation this year, the coins struck from 2011 to 2014 in San Francisco were shipped in monster boxes with San Francisco-imprinted straps. This enabled the grading services to label those coins as being minted there with labels that said, for example, 2011-(S), to distinguish them from coins with mintmarks which have no parentheses. However, only submitters who sent the entire unopened monster box with San Francisco straps were able to have coins receive the designation.
During the early years of this series the San Francisco Mint produced the coins, specifically in 1986 and 1987, and then from 1988 until 1998 that Mint and the one in West Point produced the coins. Then from 1999 to 2010 only West Point minted them, and from 2011 to 2014 San Francisco again joined West Point to make them. Only the Mint in Denver has so far not produced any of those coins.
The Mint told us that it had Philadelphia produce some 2015 coins last year to help meet expected high demand levels for the 2015 coins. Last year the Mint reached a new record for production of the coins of over 44 million pieces. So far, almost 10 million 2015-dated coins have been struck.
However, Mint officials were not able to clarify the reason for producing 2015 coins specifically at the Philadelphia Mint as opposed to in San Francisco, as they did for the previous four years. Moreover, if it was done to meet anticipated demand levels, why were only 70,000 coins made in Philadelphia?
American Silver Eagles are the world’s number 1 bullion coin, and this series is also the most widely collected modern coin series in the world.
Many collectors build complete date and mintmark sets of these coins, including all bullion and collector versions. True completionists include the 2011-2014-(S) coins in their sets, and those coins have been popular with collectors. They typically sell for the same premium as the bullion coins struck at the West Point Mint, and the grading services have encapsulated tens of thousands of examples of these coins.
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst.” He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and American Hard Assets. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He was previously a congressional relations specialist and policy analyst at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress and a syndicated columnist and news analyst on international politics and national security for a wide variety of publications. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|