1986-S Proof American Silver Eagle

in Proof Silver Eagles

One of the most popular numismatic series offered by the United States Mint made its debut with the 1986-S Proof American Silver Eagle. These Proof Silver Eagles appeared the same year as their bullion counterparts which feature similar specifications.

1986-S Proof American Silver Eagle

1986-S Proof American Silver Eagle

This includes being struck from one ounce of .999 fine silver and featuring the same obverse and reverse designs. Congress only required the obverse design to be "symbolic of Liberty" with the reverse showcasing an eagle under the terms of the Liberty Coin Act of 1985 which authorized the bullion coins.

In a move likely meant to insure the popularity of the series, the US Mint opted to use a classic obverse design first featured on an American coin decades earlier – an image of "Walking Liberty" as originally completed by artist Adolph A. Weinman for the 1916-1947 half dollar. That design had become a favorite of many collectors and is considered by most as one of the most beautiful ever struck on a coin from the United States Mint. The reverse shows a heraldic eagle with shield image by US Mint engraver John Mercanti.

Both designs are struck to proof quality on these numismatic Eagles. The US Mint describes the finish as coins struck using a "specialized minting process that begins by manually feeding burnished coin blanks into presses fitted with special dies. Each coin is struck multiple times so the softly frosted, yet detailed images seem to float above a mirror-like field." The enhanced detail is one of the biggest factors leading collectors to seek out these coins over the bullion version.

1986 Silver Eagle Mintages

The United States Mint released the 1986-S Proof American Silver Eagles in November of that year and was met with intense demand. In fact, the 1986-S stands as the Proof Silver Eagle with the highest mintage in more than twenty-five years of availability since first introduced. According to the US Mint, a total of 1,446,778 of the 1986 Proof Silver Eagles were sold each at an initial price point of just $21.00.

That proof mintage, while high, is relatively small in comparison to the mintage of the related bullion Eagles. The US Mint recorded a total of 5,393,005 of the 1986 year-dated bullion Silver Eagles sold indicating the investors were drawn in larger numbers to the bullion variety. Of course, price may have had a significant impact on those sales. Bullion Silver Eagles are sold for a small premium above the current spot price of silver which averaged just $5.47 an ounce that year.

1986-S Proof American Silver Eagles on Sale

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