The 1996 Silver American Eagles proved to be a year of opposites for the strikes. One on hand the Proof Eagles sold so well they hit their mintage cap, on the other the bullion coin sold so poorly that is ranks as the lowest mintage for the strike in the first twenty five years of the coins history.
It is a little surprising that the bullion coins did so poorly, however the somewhat stagnant market of silver that year may have had something to do with it. For 1996, the average cost of an ounce of silver came in at $5.20 – exactly what it was the previous year. The precious metal did manage to climb as high as $5.83 an ounce at one time, but it also bottomed out at $4.71.
That relatively steady market for silver led the bullion coins to their lowest mintage to date at 3,603,386 coins. This was a drop of 1,068,665 coins from the previous year or 22.9%. The next closest mintage to that date was 1994 and was over 600,000 higher. Low mintage years like this one usually do one thing for the values of the strikes – it increases them, and for these bullion coins it has done exactly that.
The table below shows the total number of bullion silver Eagles ordered from the Mint for each month of 1996 by its network of authorized purchasers. This does not give a direct indication of the year-dated mintage (which can be found below) though as some of the strikes shown may have been minted in a different year.
1996 Bullion Silver Eagles Sold
Proof Silver Eagles managed a banner year reaching their maximum mintage of 500,000 (before adjustments brought the number back down to 498,293). It was the first time in the previous four years that the strike attained that level and they would not sell so well again for another three years. Even with the inclusion of the special West Point struck coins of 1995, that year had not attained the 500k cap.
Specifications on these coins remained as they always had been since their creation with the obverse containing Adolph A. Weinman Walking Liberty design first seen on the Half Dollars in 1916. The reverse still showed John Mercanti’s heraldic Eagle with shield.
The 1996 Proof Silver Eagles were initially sold by the Mint for $23 a piece.
1996 Silver Eagle Mintages
1996 Silver Eagle Specifications
|Weight:||31.101 grams (1.000 ounces)|
|Diameter:||1.598 inches (40.60 mm)|
|Thickness:||0.117 inches (2.98 mm)|
|Composition:||99.93% silver, 0.07% copper|
1996 Silver Eagle Design
|Mint Mark:||Bullion – None, Proof – ‘S’|
|Obverse Designer:||Adolph A. Weinman|
|Reverse Designer:||John Mercanti|
1996 Silver Eagles on eBay