The 2017 American Eagle 1-ounce silver bullion coins have been struck at the West Point, San Francisco, and Philadelphia Mints.
In addition, Coin World has learned that the San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints also contributed to the West Point Mint’s production of the 2016 American Eagle silver bullion coins.
U.S. Mint officials said the San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints were pressed into production of American Eagle silver bullion coins to augment stocking an inventory of the coins before sales began in both January 2016 and 2017.
Just how many silver American Eagles were struck at each of the facilities for both years is not being disclosed by U.S. Mint officials. The U.S. Mint reports the sales/production of the American Eagles silver bullion coins as a single, combined figure.
U.S. Mint officials view the bullion issues as investment coins and not as collector coins, although collectors do acquire such issues by date and production facility, if known.
Among the silver bullion coins, determining which facility struck a particular coin may be impossible. The bullion coins do not bear the Mint mark of the facility that produced them. Additionally, as a cost-cutting measure, the U.S. Mint has converted to a generic UNITED STATES MINT-imprinted strap for securing the lids on all of the 500-coin green plastic “monster” boxes of tubed coins, regardless of production facility (before 2017, the Mints used straps bearing an imprint identifying the production facility).
Nonetheless, Numismatic Guaranty Corp. officials say they believe they have an idea which coins were struck at which facility, based partly on the series of numbers that appears on the lid of each of the monster boxes submitted to the grading service for grading and encapsulating the coins within.
Coin World forwarded NGC’s information speculating on the meaning of the numbers on the boxes, but U.S. Mint officials would not confirm whether the grading service’s hunches are correct.
Coin World has filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking disclosure not only of a breakdown in the number of 2016 and 2017 American Eagle silver bullion coins struck at each of the three Mints, but also a detailed explanation of the numbering system on the boxes.
Max Spiegel, vice president of sales and marketing for NGC’s parent firm, Certified Collectibles Group, said the grading service developed its theories based on its observations of coin submissions from boxes in original packaging from the respective production facilities.
The grading service will identify the Mint of production on the grading label if definitely known.
Spiegel said the grading service believes the 2017 American Eagle silver bullion coins with the highest quality were produced at the West Point Mint, a facility that robotically tubes its coins. Tubes bearing internal markings suggest the coins were inserted by a robotic mechanism, he said.
The service speculates that manual tubing of coins accounts for the tubes with lower quality coins with edge scrapes and other damage, and the San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints manually tube their coins, Spiegel said.
While U.S. Mint officials acknowledge that the silver bullion coins struck at the West Point Mint are robotically tubed, primarily, they note that the facility also employs manual tubing.
However, the San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints only tube the American Eagle silver bullion coins manually, according to U.S. Mint officials.
The American Eagle silver bullion coins are not sold to the public directly. The U.S. Mint sells the coins through a network of authorized purchasers that buy the coins based on the closing London PM spot price of silver per ounce on a given day plus a $2 per coin premium. The coins are then resold into the marketplace for a small mark-up.
The authorized purchasers are required to arrange for pickup at the West Point Mint of their orders of the 500-coin boxes.
Coins struck at the San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints, boxed in tubes and secured with generic U.S. Mint straps, are also shipped from those two facilities for pickup at the West Point Mint.
Early in 2015, U.S. Mint officials stated that none of the production of 2015 silver American Eagles was executed anywhere but the West Point Mint.
That assertion was subsequently modified several weeks later with an announcement that the Philadelphia Mint had struck 70,000 of the 2015 American Eagle silver bullion coins late in 2014.
The 2014 production of 2015 coins was the first output of American Eagle silver bullion coins executed at the Philadelphia facility.
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