1987-S Proof American Silver Eagle

in Proof Silver Eagles

The 1987-S Proof American Silver Eagle was issued as the second annual release by the United States Mint of its numismatic Silver Eagle line-up. The 1987 Proof Silver Eagle was struck at the United States Mint’s facility in San Francisco and thus carried the ‘S’ mintmark like the previous year’s release.

1987-S Proof American Silver Eagle

1987-S Proof American Silver Eagle

Coins of this series are struck as the numismatic versions of the US Mint’s bullion Silver Eagles. Both the bullion and the proof varieties are composed of one ounce of .999 fine silver and feature the same basic obverse and reverse imagery. Those obverse and reverse designs are still featured on coins of the series today.

Shown on the obverse of the Silver Eagles is a depiction of "Walking Liberty." This image was originally designed by artist Adolph A. Weinman and first featured on the 1916-1947 half dollar coin. Its popularity with collectors is likely the reason it was chosen to be featured again on a new US Mint coin. The reverse contains a design of a heraldic eagle with shield and was completed by US Mint engraver John Mercanti.

Three important factors differentiate these Proof Silver Eagles from their bullion counterparts. First, the bullion coins are struck for investors and are sold to the public for a small premium above the current spot price of the one ounce of silver contained within each. Proof Silver Eagles are minted for collectors and are sold directly to the public by the US Mint for a much larger premium above any sort of melt value associated with them.

Second, the finish on the two varieties is different. Bullion Eagles are struck with a bullion finish whereas these numismatic Silver Eagles feature the much more detailed proof finish. Proof coins are struck multiple times with special dies on specially burnished coin blanks which results in enhanced levels of detail and a mirror-like field. That increased detail is a major reasons collectors tend to prefer the proof coin over the bullion version.

Finally, Proof Silver Eagles have a mintmark indicating which facility produced them. Bullion coins contain no mintmark. For 1987, the Proof Silver Eagles were struck at the US Mint’s facility in San Francisco and thus carry an ‘S’ mintmark on their reverse.

1987 Silver Eagle Mintages

The United States Mint recorded a total of 904,732 of the 1987-S Proof American Silver Eagles sold. This was a significant decline from the previous 1986-dated inaugural year releases which totaled 1,446,778. Still, the 1987 number remains as one of the best ever for the series in over a quarter of a century of availability.

For comparison, the US Mint indicated 11,442,335 of the 1987-dated bullion Silver Eagles were sold which was the first full year in which they were available. In 1986, the bullion coins were only sold for part of the year. Of note, the average London Fix for Silver for 1987 was $7.01 an ounce.

1987-S Proof American Silver Eagles on Sale

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