What are the American Silver Eagle Key Dates?

American Silver Eagle coins serve as a cornerstone of many collections and precious metals investment portfolios. These bullion coins have been produced in large quantities each year by US Mint since 1986. If you are new to collecting, you may wonder what are the Key Dates for American Silver Eagle coins?

For the most part, bullion Silver Eagles are worth a small premium over spot price.

However, some mintages and variations are far less common than others. To collectors,  some of these American Silver Eagle key dates are highly sought after and can command a very high premium.

1986 Silver Eagle

The 1986 Silver Eagle was the first of this series produced by the US Mint. The first year, almost 5.4 million bullion coins were minted and nearly 1.5 million proof Silver Eagles.

Compare that to more recent mintages, such as 2015, when 47 million coins were minted.

Being the first coin in the series and having a relatively limited mintage, the 1986 Silver Eagle is collectable. This coin typically commands a premium over spot price. For collectors of Silver Eagle coins, the 1986 Silver Eagle stands out as a quintessential coin to own.

Uncirculated 1986 Silver Eagles can usually be found for around double current spot price. For specimens that are graded by NGC or PCGS in the MS69 or MS70 grades can sell in the hundreds of dollars.

Proof coins, either having a high grade or that include the original mint issued box and certificate of authenticity (COA) can command even higher premiums.

1994 Silver Eagle

The 1994 Silver Eagle mintage was the lowest to date since the introduction of the series. Only around 4.2 million bullion coins were produced, and only around 372,000 proof coins issued.

The coins from this mintage year tend to command premiums similar to those of 1986 due to their rarity. The quality of many of the coins produced during this year have been known to contain milk spots and other imperfections.

1996 Silver Eagle

Production problems arose during the 1996 minting of Silver Eagles. This has been the lowest production year in the entire American Silver Eagle series. Only around 3.6 million bullion coins were produced during the entire year.

Milk spots and other imperfections were common. According to the NGC Census, there are only 334 1996 Silver Eagle coins graded as MS70. Those coins sell for thousands of dollars each at auction.

1995 W Proof Silver Eagle

The 1995 W Proof Silver Eagle was only included as part of a special release and has the lowest mintage to date of all Silver Eagles. The set was issued as a 10 year anniversary collection that was comprised of the four Proof Gold Eagle denominations along with Silver Eagle Proof.

Each of the coins in this special set featured the W mint mark. In total, the mint had planned to produced only 45,000 sets. However, sales were unexpectedly low and only 30,125 units sold.

The 1995 W Silver Eagle Proof is arguably the rarest coin of the series and is the one most sought after by serious collectors. Only 373 are exist with the PCGS grade of MS70. In 2013, one of these coins set an auction record of nearly $87,000, one of the highest prices ever paid for a modern coin.