To reduce stockpiles of silver, the
United States Treasury began issuing one-ounce silver bullion coins in
1986. In 2002, the program was extended beyond the original
silver stockpiles, and the Secretary of the Treasury was granted the
authority to purchase silver in order to continue minting American Silver Eagles.
The obverse of the
Silver Eagle was chosen as a direct resurrection of Adolph
Weinman's Walking Liberty half dollar design. It depicts the
figure of Lady Liberty, who, in Weinman's words, is "progressing in full stride
toward the dawn of a new day, carrying branches of laurel and oak,
symbolic of civil and military glory." A modification was
made to the design to place Weinman's initials on the hem of Lady
Liberty's gown. The reverse, sculpted by John Mercanti and inspired by
the Great Seal of the United States, features an eagle holding
an olive branch and arrows.
Eagle Dollars have been minted at the Philadelphia, San
Francisco, and West Point Mints. The Bullion American Eagle
coin was minted in San Francisco from 1986-1998, Philadelphia
(1999-2000), and West Point (1999-Date). Proof Silver Eagle
coins have been issued from the San Francisco Mint (1986-1992),
Philadelphia Mint (1993-2000), and West Point Mint (2001-Date).
In 2006 the U.S. Mint began producing special uncirculated
bullion coins for collectors. These bullion coins are known
for their unique "burnished" finish. Burnished Silver Eagles
have only been made at the West Point Mint.