The US Mint makes commemorative coins annually. These coins are often well advertised and active collectors would recognize most of them if they saw them at a coin shop. But there are entire series of commemorative coins that most collectors will never see unless they actively seek them out.
America The Beautiful
In 2010 the US Mint started the America The Beautiful (ATB) quarter series. Each state and the territories will have a state park put on a circulating commemorative quarter. You may have seen these in your pocket change. What you are not likely to see is the 5 ounce silver version that the mint is creating concurrent with the quarters. The 5 ounce versions are still a quarter face value.
These large silver coins have very low mintages and come in both a ”bullion” and ”numismatic” version. The bullion version does not have a mint mark. They come in tubes of 10 and most of them have mintages below 35,000 pieces. The bullion version has a bright satin finish to them.
The numismatic version has a mint mark, they come in a custom box, and have a ”burnished” finish to them. Most of these coins have mintages below 25,000.
The price for these coins vary greatly depending on the source. You can pick many of the bullion pieces up for a slight premium. Currently silver is around $16 ounce and you can find many issues for $20 and ounce ($100 each). On the other extreme the most popular coin is the Hawaii with mint mark. This coin trades up to $600.
Silver Eagles are the most well known and highly collected of all US Bullion issues. So much so that some of the bullion issues are trading at double the price of silver (1986, 1996). In 2001 the mint started to produce ”Burnished” uncirculated coins. These came in special boxes and have the “W” mint mark. The burnished UNC coins mostly trade in the $40-$80.
There is one error in the Silver Eagle series. It is a 2008 dated coin with a reverse of 2007. This type of error is commonly referred to as a ”mule”. The difference is subtle. In 2008 a serif was added to the coins. The error version is san-serif. It trades for $450+.
The mint also creates the Proof version of the silver eagle. Many of these trade in the $40-$75 range. In 2006 the mint produced it’s first ever Reverse Proof coin. With a mintage below 250,000 pieces it trades in the $200 range.
In 2011 the mint produced a 25 year set with 5 different coins. It includes an “S” mint UNC and a reverse proof. These two specific coins have mintages below 100,000 and also trade in excess of $200. In 2013 the mint came out with the first ever ”enhanced proof”. These coins trade in the $75 range and are a good value relative to the 281,310 mintage.
It will be interesting to see what new twist the mint will put on the Silver Eagle series moving forward. One thing is sure, it will continue to be a popular series to collect.