Later this year, the United States Mint will release a product tentatively known as the “American Eagle West Point Two-Coin Silver Set”. After the set first appeared on a preliminary product schedule released in December, some basic details of the offering were revealed.
The occasion for the issuance of the set will be the 25th anniversary of the West Point Mint gaining full mint status. The facility had originally been constructed in 1937 as the West Point Bullion Depository and served as a storage facility for silver bullion. In 1980, the facility began striking gold medallions and in later years gold and silver bullion and numismatic coins. The facility gained official status as a branch of the United States Mint on March 31, 1988.
Preliminary information was provided regarding the contents of the set and its period of availability. It was indicated that the sets would be available during a one month window open from May 13 to June 13, 2013 (now indicated as “May/June” on the product schedule). The two coins included in the set would be struck at the West Point Mint with the “W” mint mark. The first coin would carry a reverse proof finish, while the second would carry an uncirculated finish. With regards to the second coin, it was further indicated that the uncirculated coin would be different in some material way from the regular uncirculated coin offered separately.
Since this time, collectors have been speculating about how the uncirculated coin included in the set would differ. Within comments, some readers had raised possibilities such as moving the mint mark or adding a privy mark. The actual difference is something else entirely.
James Bucki, who is the About.com Guide for Coins, visited the West Point Mint and had the opportunity to witness the striking of the first 2013-W American Silver Eagle to carry the new finish. He has granted permission to include the following photo of the new “enhanced uncirculated” finish. Follow the link for larger images and his description of the coin.
Image (c) 2013 James Bucki. Used With Permission. See The 2013-W American Silver Eagle Enhanced Uncirculated Coin
The enhanced uncirculated finish is certainly very distinctive from the typical uncirculated finish. Certain aspects of the design are mirrored, others are frosted, and the background fields are lightly frosted. This creates a much different impression of the design that has become familiar to so many collectors.
In recent years, the US Mint has increased the frequency of issuance for special sets incorporating Silver Eagles. This started with the 20th anniversary set issued in 2006, followed by the 25th anniversary set in 2011, and the San Francisco Set issued last year. Each of the sets had basically used the same playbook of alternating between reverse proof, proof, and uncirculated coins with varying mint marks. By creating a completely new type of finish, the upcoming 2013 West Point Silver Eagle Set may gain some greater attention.
What do readers think of the new enhanced uncirculated Silver Eagle? Provide your thoughts in the comments.