The United States Mint will begin sales of the 2012 American Silver Eagle Proof Coin today April 12, 2012 at 12:00 Noon ET. This typically represents one of the Mint’s most popular annual collector offerings.
The obverse design of the coin features Adolph A. Weinman’s classic depiction of Walking Liberty that was used for the circulating half dollar from 1916 to 1947. The reverse of the coin contains a heraldic eagle designed by John Mercanti, former Chief Engraver of the United States Mint. These are the same obverse and reverse designs that have been featured since the introduction of the series in 1986.
The 2012 Proof Silver Eagle is struck at the West Point Mint and includes the “W” mint mark on the reverse. Each coin contains one troy ounce of .999 fine silver. The cameo proof finish features frosted raised design elements and inscriptions over mirrored background fields.
Pricing for the coins is set at $59.95 each, plus applicable shipping and handling charges. This year there are no household limits and no stated maximum mintage. The US Mint indicates that customer demand will determine the number of coins minted.
In a few ways, this release brings the series back to the more typical pattern of availability after the unfortunate cancellation of the Proof Silver Eagle in 2009. The release date has moved back to its typical place earlier in the year compared to the prior two release dates of November 19, 2010 and June 30, 2011. The initial ordering limit of 100 per household that had been in place for the past two years is not being used for this year’s release.
What remains to be seen are collector demand for the offering, the total period of availability, and the final mintage. Following the cancellation in 2009, collector enthusiasm seemed stronger when the product returned in 2010 and 2011. This resulted in a strong pace of sales and sell outs prior to the end of the year. The 2010 Proof Silver Eagle had sold out by December 28, 2010 at last reported sales of 860,000. The 2011 Proof Silver Eagle sold out by November 22, 2011 with last reported sales of 850,000. Another 100,000 were also sold within the special 25th Anniversary Set.
The expected release of other collector versions of the 2012 Silver Eagle later this year, may slightly dampen enthusiasm for the traditional offering. Although the US Mint has not directly confirmed, it is expected that collectible uncirculated versions will be offered with the “W” and “S” mint mark. Also, there are rumors of a 75th Anniversary San Francisco Set containing proof and reverse proof Silver Eagles with the “S” mint mark.
So far this year, demand for the bullion version of the Silver Eagle has been slower compared to the prior year. Through the end of the first quarter, sales have reached 10,139,000, which is down 18.42% compared to the year ago period.