1986-2016 $1 Silver Eagle BU Date Run (31 coins)
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The American Silver Eagle is the official silver bullion coin of the United States. It was first released by the United States Mint on November 24, 1986. It is struck only in the one-troy ounce size, which has a nominal face value of one dollar and is guaranteed to contain one troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver. It is authorized by Title II of Public Law 99-61 (Liberty Coin Act, approved July 9, 1985) and codified as 31 U.S.C. sec 5112(e)-(h). Its content, weight, and purity are certified by the United States Mint. In addition to the bullion version, the United States Mint has produced a proof version and an uncirculated version for coin collectors. The Silver Eagle has been produced at three mints: the Philadelphia Mint, the San Francisco Mint, and the West Point Mint. The American Silver Eagle bullion coin may be used to fund Individual Retirement Account investments.
From 1987 to 1992, proof Silver Eagle coins were minted at San Francisco and these coins bear the "S" mintmark. From 1993 to 2000, they were minted at Philadelphia and these coins bear the "P" mintmark. From 2001 to 2008, they were minted at West Point and these coins bear the "W" mintmark. No proof versions were minted in 2009. Beginning again in 2010, the proof coins were minted at West Point and bear the "W" mintmark.
As a result of the global recession, the demand from investors for bullion coins as a hedge against inflation and economic downturn surged. This increased demand began to affect the availability of American Silver Eagle bullion coins in February 2008 when sales to authorized dealers were suspended temporarily. In March 2008, sales increased ninefold from the month before (from 200,000 to 1,855,000). In April 2008, the United States Mint began an allocation program, effectively rationing Silver Eagle bullion coins to authorized dealers on a weekly basis due to "unprecedented demand." At least one observer has questioned the legality of the allocation program, as the Treasurer of the United States is required by law (31 U.S.C. sec 5112(e)) to mint and issue these coins "in quantities sufficient to meet public demand." On June 6, 2008, the Mint announced that all incoming silver planchets were being used to produce only bullion issues of the Silver Eagle and not proof or uncirculated collectible issues. The 2008 Proof Silver Eagle became unavailable for purchase from the United States Mint in August 2008 and the 2008 Uncirculated Silver Eagle sold out in January 2009 (however, it was available as part of the "2008 Annual Uncirculated Dollar Coin Set" until it sold out on January 28, 2010)
On March 5, 2009, the United States Mint announced that the proof and uncirculated versions of the Silver Eagle coin for that year were temporarily suspended due to continuing high demand for the bullion version. The allocation program that had been put in place in March 2008 was lifted on June 15, 2009, leading to speculation that proof and uncirculated versions might be produced before the end of the year. However, on October 6, 2009, the Mint announced that the collectible versions of the Silver Eagle coin would not be produced for 2009. The disappointment of collectors was expressed in a December 1 article by Representative Gary C. Peters (D-Michigan). Peters offered alternative scenarios to the cancellation of 2009 proof and uncirculated Silver Eagles and explained that he would be sending a letter to Mint Director Edmund C. Moy urging him to begin minting these products as soon as possible and continuing to do so until the end of the year. This effort was not successful and the collectible versions were not produced. The sale of 2009 Silver Eagle bullion coins was suspended from November 24 to December 6 and the allocation program was re-instituted on December 7; the product sold out on January 12, 2010.
On September 22, 2010, Representative Melvin L. Watt (D-North Carolina) introduced the "Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010" (H.R. 6162) to amend 31 U.S.C. sec 5112 (e) and (i) by giving the Secretary of the Treasury authority to mint American Eagle silver and gold coins in "qualities [e.g. bullion, proof, or uncirculated] and quantities" sufficient to meet public demand. The bill was signed into law (Pub.L. 111-302) by President Barack Obama on December 14, 2010.