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You may have heard about so-called emergency silver eagles in a TV ad or infomercial. Or, maybe you’ve run across the term in a coin magazine or online somewhere.
Perhaps you’ve heard that these special American Silver Eagles are rare and valuable, and now you want to know why.
Today, I’m going to spell out what sets emergency issue silver eagles apart from “regular” American Silver Eagles and why some collectors are buying silver coins like these.
In this article, you will find the answers to these questions:
- What are emergency silver eagles?
- Are emergency issue silver eagles worth collecting?
- What makes them different from other American Silver Eagle bullion coins?
The Importance Of Emergency Silver Eagles
Emergency issue silver eagles arose during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when the U.S. Mint restricted production of American Silver Eagles due to virus concerns at the mint. Yet, demand for silver eagles rose to unprecedented heights during the early days of the pandemic.
Not only were Wall Street investors skittish about the values of their stocks, but many felt precious metals were a safe haven of sorts — a place to store wealth should the economy collapse. Silver stackers and survivalists also stocked up on silver eagles for fear that hard money made from silver and gold may be the safest form of exchange — should the monetary system collapse or mass hysteria break out.
Then there were the collectors. Oh, the collectors! They came out in droves to buy American Silver Eagles during the early days of the pandemic. In fact, the entire collectibles industry saw new signs of life during the early months of the pandemic as countless Americans were stuck at home during lockdowns and “safer-at-home” orders.
Many of these folks also saw windfalls of money in the forms of economic stimulus checks that were sent to millions of households around the country. Some people used these funds to pay the rent or buy groceries, but many others were in a position to use that “free” money to buy collectibles — including coins. Silver eagles were among the most popular buys.
This new demand for American Silver Eagles was through the roof. Many coin dealers and bullion brokers essentially ran dry on silver eagles.
The U.S. Mint was up against the wall to produce more. This led to the U.S. Mint, amid the aforementioned production restrictions, to expand the minting of bullion American Silver Eagles beyond the usual West Point Mint. (West Point is the facility where business-strike silver eagles had been typically struck in recent years).
Production was expanded to the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints, which produced relatively small quantities of bullion silver eagles to help supplement the West Point Mint — which, at the time, couldn’t keep up with the demand under the extenuating circumstances.
Like all standard-issue bullion American Silver Eagles from the West Point Mint, the emergency strikes coming from the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints do not bear any mintmarks on the coins themselves.
In fact, none of the emergency silver eagles bear any distinctive marks or other indications that they came from Philly or San Fran. In other words, there is nothing outwardly different about emergency issue silver eagles.
Is It Smart To Collect Emergency Release Silver Eagles?
That all depends… Are you buying American Silver Eagles because you enjoy these coins as collectibles? Or, do you want to buy silver coins primarily with investment in mind?
If you’re a silver stacker who is looking to get the most silver for your money, emergency issue silver eagles probably aren’t for you. Why not? Because these coins are much scarcer than ordinary silver eagles, and thus sell for large premiums over spot value. In other words, they cost much more than a “regular” silver eagle.
However, collectors might find these coins worthy of buying. Why? Because many emergency silver eagles boast small mintage numbers and have thus sold for huge sums of money. They’re highly collectible, and they might go up in value in the years ahead if more coin collectors decide to pursue these coins.
How Do You Tell Emergency Silver Eagles From “Regular” Silver Eagles?
If an uncertified emergency issue silver eagle and uncertified “regular” silver eagle of the same year appear identical to one another side by side, then what distinguishes these special coins?
The only way to reliably tell an emergency issue from a regular one (other than buying certified emergency issues) is to buy them in monster boxes, which are packaged at the U.S. Mint and contain 25 rolls of 20 silver eagles each. Sealed, unopened boxes contain shipping labels bearing serial numbers or other special markings that can tell you which U.S. Mint facility struck and packaged the coins within.
Monster boxes like the one seen here are usually shipped directly from the U.S. Mint to coin dealers who are involved with the United States Mint Authorized Purchasers program.
From there, these coin dealers will sell the bullion silver eagles within to other dealers, private collectors and investors, and/or submit them for grading at a third-party grading company. Very rarely will a typical collector ever get ahold of a sealed monster box like the one pictured here.
Therefore, the sole way for most people to determine whether they have an emergency issue American Silver Eagle or not is to buy one that is slabbed and labeled as such by a third-party coin grader.
Where Can You Buy Emergency Issue American Silver Eagles?
It seems many people are first made aware of emergency American Silver Eagles from watching TV infomercials pitching these unusual coins.
While this is one place where you might consider buying your emergency release silver eagles from, don’t forget that many coin dealers and bullion brokers sell these coins, too.
Wherever you buy emergency issue silver eagles, make sure you aren’t paying more than you should for these coins. Always do your research, and make sure you’re buying from a good coin dealer that you can trust.
How Much Are Emergency Silver Eagles Worth?
Prices vary on emergency issue silver eagles largely depending on the grade or condition of the coin. Here’s a rundown on average emergency silver eagle values:
- 2020 (P) emergency silver eagle — $65 to $100
- 2020 (S) emergency silver eagle — $45 to $75
- 2021 (P) emergency silver eagle — $70 to $110
- 2021 (S) emergency silver eagle — $50 to $80
I’m the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. My love for coins began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I’m a member of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I’m also the editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I’ve contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I’ve authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!