An Overlooked, Modern Rarity? Burnished Silver Eagles
Since its beginnings in 1986, the American Silver Eagle has become one of the world’s most popular coins. Its stunning design, $1 denomination, recognizably and .999 purity are just a few of the reasons the American Silver Eagle has become a fan favorite.
Over the last 33 years, the numismatic industry has seen this coin take on numerous forms, as bullion, proof, burnished, reversed proof, and enhanced finish versions.
The bullion version is just like a typical coin, the proof version has frosted features/devices with a “shiny” background, the reverse proof has “shiny” features/devices with a frosted background and the enhanced finish is hard to explain without seeing in person… We will be going more into depth on these other finishes in following articles.
However, out of all these different finishes, one should stand out above all others: the Burnished(a.ka. Uncirculated) Silver Eagle.
This coin has flown under the radar since its inception in 2006, and it is time that some light is shed on why this particular silver eagle is so rare.
The answers to this question are: its mintage numbers and labor-intensive minting process.
Below is a chart indicating Burnished Silver Eagle mintages from 2006-Present day.
|2016||172,802 (as of Dec. 25, 2016)|
|2017||139,610 (as of Jan. 1, 2018)|
|2018||~130,996 (as of Dec. 30, 2018)|
The above chart speaks for itself. Not a single one of these coins has ever even reached the 700,000 mark.
The U.S. Mint produces about 300,000 Burnished Silver Eagles per year. This is about twice as rare as the Proof Silver Eagles at about 650,000 produced per year and 50 times as rare as the Bullion Strike Silver Eagles at about 15 million per year. These figures are found by taking the average of each type of Silver Eagle.
Only about 4.5 million Burnished Silver Eagles have been minted since 2006. The total mintage of the series is still more than twice as rare as the yearly mintage of its bullion counterparts. This paints a clear picture of just how rare the Burnished Silver Eagle really is.
Furthermore, one should pay particular attention to the 2017and 2018 Burnished Silver Eagles. These dates barely saw mintages over 100,000 coins making them three times as rare as the typical Burnished Silver Eagles in terms of mintage.
These mintage numbers may very well put these coins in the category of “key date” Silver Eagles. When taking all Silver Eagles into consideration, only the 2015 (P), 1995-W, 2011-S and the 2017-S have lower mintages than the 2017 and 2018 Burnished Silver Eagles.
This puts these two coins in the Top 10 of the lowest mintage Silver Eagles in existence.
How these coins are minted
The U.S. Mint states, “the term ‘uncirculated’ refers to [a] specialized minting process… uncirculated quality coins are distinguished by the presence of a mint mark, indicating their production facility, and by the use of burnished coin blanks, which are hand-fed into specially adapted coining presses one at a time.
The Burnished Silver Eagle is known for its “matte-like” finish. These coins also have a mintmark unlike the traditional Silver Eagles.
This special finish is achieved by rolling the “blanks” of silver in a drum filled with countless tiny balls. This process makes the coin smooth and removes any imperfections and gives the coin its stunning finish.
Lastly, the coin is struck once, and only once, before it is sent off for encapsulation and then shipment to the public.
Not only are the Burnished Silver Eagles stunning and unique, but they pose a very unique opportunity to purchase low-mintage Silver Eagles at an affordable price. For the most part, these coins can all be purchased for less than $200 in perfect grade 70.
In short, these facts indicate that the Burnished Silver Eagle is an overlooked piece that all collectors should pay more attention to.