First released in 1986, the American Eagle is the official bullion coin of the United States. The US began striking gold and silver bullion coins to compete with the bullion coins already offered by other countries. The value of these coins is directly tied to their metal value, which far exceeds their face value; in some cases, a collector’s market has developed due to low mintages. Roman numeral dates were originally displayed on coins minted 1986 through 1991; from 1992 to the present, Arabic numeral dates are used.
The American Silver Eagle is struck only in the one-troy-ounce size and is guaranteed by the United States Mint to contain 99.9% pure silver. The obverse displays Adolph A. Weinman’s, Liberty Walking design and the reverse is John Mercanti’s rendition of a heraldic eagle.
The American Gold Eagle is offered in 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1-ounce sizes. These coins are guaranteed by the US government to contain the stated actual gold weight in troy ounces and are backed by the United States Mint for weight and content. The gold used to manufacture these coins, by law, must come from American sources, and is alloyed with silver and copper to produce a 22-karat coin that is more durable and wear-resistant. The obverse design features Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ rendition of Lady Liberty and the reverse displays a family of eagles designed by Miley Busiek.