Mint issues statement on “erroneous” branch-mint information on ASE coins

(Photo courtesy of APMEX)

The Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications has issued a press release concerning spurious branch-mint identification of certain American Eagle silver bullion coins. Back in April, PCGS announced that it would begin providing branch-mint identification on slabs for some ASEs dated 2014–2017. The service resulted from Coin World’s obtaining information from the Mint through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Mint’s press release (emphasis added by the editor):

By way of background, while most American Eagle silver bullion coins have been minted at the West Point Mint, to meet demand the United States Mint (Mint) has sometimes produced these coins at the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mint facilities. It is important to note that the Mint offers bullion coins through Authorized Purchasers to provide investors the opportunity to acquire precious metal coins at a slight premium to spot market prices. As such, all Mint silver bullion coins are, by their very nature, homogeneous. None of these coins bears a mint mark designating the facility where it was produced. The Mint’s goal is to ensure that the American Eagle silver bullion coins struck at any of these three facilities are identical and indistinguishable from one another.

On March 20, 2017, in response to a request made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, the Mint released internal manufacturing tracking numbers used on the boxes that contain American Eagle silver bullion coins that are shipped to Authorized Purchasers. It has come to the Mint’s attention that some of the information that was released on March 20 was erroneous.

The erroneous information released on March 20, as well as confusion surrounding the Mint’s use of internal manufacturing tracking numbers—specifically those connected with American Eagle silver bullion coins—has resulted in a mistaken belief that some of these coins are rarities.

The internal manufacturing tracking numbers on these boxes support the Mint’s quality control program and were not intended for the public to rely on to establish which Mint facility produced the silver bullion coins.

It’s not quite clear from the statement whether “erroneous” means “inaccurate” or “irrelevant.” The Mint concludes the press release by stating it will “provide new information regarding these coins by the end of June.   ❑

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  1. Tom P. - MA says

    Never fear! This just provides the opportunity for new labels to be produced. “Really, really minted in Philly” “Originally thought to be minted in Philly, now unknown”

  2. Dustyroads says

    The mint is not denying the coins were minted in Philadelphia, but stating that a reliable pedigree, if I can use that term, does not exist, and therefore buy at you own risk. It’s what you do when you need to separate yourself from the matter.

  3. cagcrisp says

    Another blow to the TPG’s and the dealers that promoted these bullion coins. To make things right the dealers that sold these coins should immediately offer 100% money back.

    That will Not happen.

    Another blow to the TPG’s and the dealers that promoted these bullion coins.

    The little guy gets the shaft. Again.

    Just Who will buy these “certified” coins again?

    Just How will the dealers/TPG’s spin it to make it look like you got the Real Deal?

    They Will spin it. You can count on that happening…

  4. Ken bond says

    Basically nothing has changed. Just the mint saying they did not intently try to create a rarity. It’s called cover thy ass. So.. whether you consider these Part of the set as a rarity or just still the common 2015 silver eagle. Is your option on if you buy one or not. Either way, to each his own. I think the argument has merit on both sides not to mention, there are a lot of other coins one could argue that either belong in this set or not. Like the W Burnished coins or the 2000 Millennium or the 2011 S from the anniversary set. Well think about it, even the mint is confused! In 2016 they did the 30th anniversary and did the lettering on the edge. Only 1 problem, They used the W burnished coins that have only been around for 10 years. and the MS coin that was actually 30 years old notta! Go figure.

  5. earthling says

    I think they ( the TPG’S) need to come out with a “Blessed by the Pope” Holder . Maybe even a retro “Reverend Ike ” Prayer Coin (remember those Prayer Cloths). Forget the spin, the spin will be whatever sounds good. 😉

    Think of the cash generated. Think of the troubled lives healed . 😇

    This could be a move to the “blessed by God” category.

  6. David says

    Don’t know why ASE should have mint marks on them. What does it really matter…at least for bullion?

  7. Louis Golino says

    Ken- Remember they also put edge lettering on the proof eagles last year, and they began the same year as the bullion.

  8. You Can't See Me says

    Simple solution is to put the mint mark on all coins and bullion, duh.
    I’ll write to my congressmen.
    Last time I wrote, I received a real response.

  9. mgm says

    Now what?

    U.S. Mint: News Release
    United States Mint Announces Plans to Discontinue Mail Orders

    WASHINGTON – The United States Mint (Mint) today announced that it is discontinuing all mail orders effective September 30, 2017.

    The Mint will return any mail orders received after September 30 with instructions for placing orders online or by phone.

    The consumer products industry is increasingly adopting Web-based sales channels, including mobile applications, that give the public more efficient, cost-effective, and faster ways to purchase products. The Mint is following this trend in an effort to better serve all its customers, and provide a more convenient and consistent ordering experience.

    Future orders will be accepted at the Mint’s online catalog at or via telephone at 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468), seven days a week from 8 a.m. to midnight ET..

  10. Donald says

    Anyone who laid out a large sum of money to buy these unmarked bullion silver eagles, with only a label suggesting as to where they were minted, has to be feeling a bit unsettled. The TV coin shows especially pumped these “rarities” and, no doubt, many people bought into the hype.

  11. Yes, But...You Can't Take It With You says

    Ken – I don’t know about the SAE in the Millennium set but I do believe that the Sacagawea had a special finish in that set.

  12. R Byerts says

    Who the Hell does the Mint think they are fooling? They release a statement saying AUTHORIZED PURCHASERS give investors the opportunity to acquire precious metal coins at a SLIGHT premium over spot. What do they consider “slight”? Majority of these clowns charge at least 25% over spot. They’re raking in fast turnover profits. Coin collecting is becoming such a racket!!! An NGC MS70 ASE in the regular brown label is every bit as valuable as an NGC MS70 ASE with Moy’s signature.. Coins are the same. And sorry, anyone that pays more for an ASE with a minted in “S” or “W” is throwing their money away. Oh, and paying more to buy a “TRUMP” or a “TRUMP/PENCE” labeled ASE is such a wonderful investment. Yea. sure…..

  13. Brad says

    Regarding those graded “Philadelphia” 2015 ASE coins. Well, you know what they say about a fool and his money! Sad but true.

  14. Jerry Diekmann says

    One more reason why I am glad that I have NEVER bought a TPG-graded coin for any modern coin – that would be any coin minted after 1964 ( or more correctly, with a coin dated after 1964). There has been collusion between the Mint and the TPG graders for many years now and I don’t buy into their hype or play their con game.

  15. gatortreke says

    Coin World opened up a can of worms with their FOIA request. I have to wonder if the information released is truly erroneous such that the identifying numbers of the monster boxes were inaccurate, do the TPG’s and resellers such as Mike Mezak of HSN have a case for a lawsuit against the Mint?

    Based on what I saw on the HSN coin show the other day, the Mint used to put a marker on the monster boxes showing which Mint the boxes were shipped from. The Mint apparently stopped this practice, instead just writing an internal identifying number on the box. I presume they did this to stop the TPG or resellers from easily identifying where the coins were minted and marketing these bullion as “special” coins. Coin World’s FOIA request foiled the Mint’s plan so it would seem today’s announcement is likely an attempt to stop this practice from getting out of hand.

    It will be interesting to watch how all of this plays out in the weeks ahead.

  16. KCSO says

    This train wreck was apparent when that clown label first came out.

    No guarantee of that you were gettting, and no auditable or quality check of what was being slabbed, though people put their faith and trust in HSN and TPG’s, …amazing!

    This hobby is slowly becoming a train wreck due to dealer’s desperation to make a buck.

    eBay has already become a train wreck –

  17. HarryB says

    @gatortreke: some years back ASE Monster Boxes had different color straps, yellow for San Fransisco, and white for West Point. Sellers like APMEX charged a slight premium for the yellow strapped boxes. I never bought into the extra expense for a different mint…bullion is bullion.

  18. HarryB says

    @KCSO: train wreck is a great analogy. I used to think sellers who use the ANA or PNG logos conducted business with integrity. The coin grading and certification industry is on very thin ice in my opinion.

  19. KCSO says

    All you younger collectors/coin aficionado’s out there (Gen X’ers and below), would be better served picking up pieces that fancies your artsy side because you like the design, or just stick to stacking ASE BU (unslabbed, 😉

    In 10 years, the vast majority of this Modern stuff, (which I have a Pt, Au, & Ag hoard of), will be obtainable near spot at that time, in my opinion.

    And this label game.., good luck, it’s nothing more than a gimmick that within 10 years will burst that little value will placed on, sure you’ll have a rare minority that maintain some value over spot when it says 70, over 69, though not many. Besides, as spot increases, in most cases, numismatic value often erodes.

    It’s all about forward supply and demand, not too hard to see where that’s going.

    You younger collector’s would be better served picking up your ‘must haves’ and socking every other penny into an index or thematic ETF that makes sense for the growth prospects for the next ten years, then shaving off proceeds to go back that fulfil the collection you want when premiums are closer to spot, yeah spot will be higher than today though supply may be more attainable, plus your coins will be free since it’s market proceeds.

    In a long winded way, the point is to not be overly enthusiastic about this decorative modern coin stuff, be smart with your money, and collect what which you perceive as eye candy 🍭

    Happy Collecting!

  20. KCSO says

    HarryB sez – “bullion is bullion”

    Absolutely! Good point – And I might add that Bullion with a mint mark will always be more liquid than Bullion Rounds.

    I was going to go with “like two asteroids on a collision course” but that would have gone over like TPG Labels in the future.., a lead 🎈

  21. Baldwin says

    The idea that bullion “coins” became valuable based of the limited information that has been provided was a joke to begin with. Simply because TPG thought they could identify a box that was from Philadelphia and later found out that wasn’t even accurate should tell everyone how weak the label industry is. Here is a hint for label chasers… if you can’t tell your expensive coin from the unlabeled coin next to it… you probably payed for a label.

  22. Tom says

    It’s only worth what you are willing to pay for or sell it for. However, when certain groups create a market it becomes a SCAM. My question is how long before we see some kind of Government regulations involved in our hobby?

  23. Barry says

    I agree with the earlier post and just put a mint mark on all bullion .ASE’s. Why let this quagmire go on ? Maybe underline the mint mark on the burnished coin or put a mint mark in a different location on the bullion coins. btw, ASE’s could use some security feature as the Canadian Maple Leafs,

  24. Tinto says

    Wonder if the TPGs charged extra for those labels … probably … what a gimmick …

  25. cagcrisp says


    Collectors Universe, Inc.

    Those of you that play the TPG’s game better know the company that puts the grade on the plastic slab. There are previous well known TPGs that Once were at the top of the game and Now are out of favor. Which TPG will be around years from now when you liquidate? Will your TPG still be on top? or will Your TPG be like a couple and bring no more than bullion prices for their slabbed 70s.

    The quarterly 8K just came out for quarter ending 05/03/17 for CLCT. Some good trends and some Not so good trends.

    IF you are going to Play the game, you Really better learn more about the TPG that slabs the coin you are purchasing and whether or not That TPG will be around say 10 years from now.

    A Lot of signs to read.

    You Better be good at reading them…

  26. Dustyroads says


    Collectors Universe, Inc.

    This Co. has done very well since the beginning of the year. It will be interesting to see just how much this mess will effect the price.

  27. 1964dollarpeace says

    When will we get a new dime? It has been over 70 years since we had a new dime and I think it’s time for a new one.

  28. Donald says

    The Mint’s revelation questioning the legitimacy of these labeled 2015 (P) bullion silver eagles have not deterred a sleu of eBay sellers who are still asking exhorbitant prices for these coins, in some cases into the multi -thousand dollar range. I guess these sellers figure as long as the general public remains ignorant to this issue they’ll take advantage of the situation. Sure, pass off a $25. coin on an unsuspecting buyer.

  29. Tinto says


    So long as they get cover from the TPGs’ labels … they are gonna push it out the door .. ..

  30. So Krates says

    Where is the Numismatic Press when you actually need them? Sitting like dogs waiting for a few scraps of dubious info tossed on the floor by Michael White Lie and Queen Lateefah & Co. at the end of next month? Let’s get on it folks… ferret out some facts and earn your keep!

  31. joe#2 says

    I don’t “worry” about TPG’S anymore. You buy from whatever mint in Proof or Mint State with a C.O.A., Why isn’t that good enough anymore? You want to be a label buyer??? Be my guest. Regardless, These graders without using cotton gloves, Will get a thumb print on part of the front or reverse. I don’t care what ANYBODY tells you. From the original capsules from the Mints, You don’t have to worry anymore with your coin/s being handled. Whatever your preference, Enjoy.

  32. gatortreke says

    To be fair to the numismatic press, this Mint press release was made just before a long, holiday weekend. Usually this is a sign the agency making the release wants it to go unobserved or else wants it to go unchecked for an extended period before clarification is made. I’m not a fan of these slabbed rarities and don’t own any but that doesn’t mean I don’t think the Mint isn’t playing games here too.

  33. Koichi Ito says

    Just put mint mark on coins for each mint “P” for Philidelphia, “D” for Denver, “S” for San Francisco, and “W” for West Point!

  34. Larry says

    I was thinking about what the mint could relatively easily do to make a truly special coin for the 225th anniversary.
    A couple years ago when I was at the ANA show, one of the dealers allowed my to hold a matte proof $10.00 Indian gold piece. I will admit it is a little intimidating to hold a $80,000 coin. I was really taken by the beauty of this coin.
    So I was thinking wouldn’t it be wonderful if the mint did the American Gold Eagle in matte proof this year? It would be a stunning coin, I think I would find a way to buy one. I think it would be an iconic coin, like the 2009 UHR.

  35. Dustyroads says

    Grateful for the sacrifices of the great who gave their lives in battles for us, I bow my head knowing what a great responsibility we have to never let their sacrifice be in vain. In reverence, I gladly assume the greater role of honoring the brave fighting ones. May we never forget, and may we always be ready at the gate.

    Have a great Memorial day all.

  36. earthling says

    What is happening when Bullion is sold as Rare stuff just because it might have been struck somewhere other than West Point?

    Silly Geese.

  37. Dustyroads says

    One thing is different, one thing is the same.

    Some have move money to spend, and we ALL want that very unique, special something.

    Someone said to me once, “there’s no shortage of money out there”.

  38. Gary Not Dave says

    Any of you “bullion is bullion” guys out there want to sell any of your 2011 25th Anniversary Sets for bullion prices hit me up ASAP!! Bullion is Bullion!

  39. Erik H says

    The 2011 ASE set sold for $300 from the mint as a numismatic item, so it’s not bullion. The same coins could easily be sold at their face value too if someone was dumb enough.

  40. So Krates says

    @ Erik H. – I could see spot price but face value is unlikely ($5 for the set!)

    All you “bullion is bullion” guys out there… I will trade my Made in America 31.1 gram ASEs for your Chinese made 30 gram silver Pandas. You’re getting free silver, right? Who’s in ?

  41. Scott says

    This is just another great example of how stupid the modern coin market is these days.

  42. David says

    I have not done any research on this; but I believe that the mint is breaking the law. I believe that mint marks were put on coins back in the 1800’s. I believe that there was a law to include a mint mark on every coin produced at every mint location; except for Philly.

    This is an opportunity for the mint director to fix the problem; mark the coins by law, not by sales. Produce ASE (and any other coins) at each mint and properly mint mark the coin with the indicator of the mint where it was produced. Sell the coin, such as ASE. If the public buys 3 million coins and W can only produce 2 million coins, then there will only be 2 million W coins and the director might use S to produce the other 1 million coins. Put some excitement into the hobby; but don’t wipe out the meaning of the mint mark!

  43. earthling says

    I think I want one of these rare labeled SAE’s now. Think of the interesting story it will carry for the rest of eternity.

    I’m willing to pay a good $10 over spot. My offer will climb to $13 over spot for a MS70 Coin. I just want up to a box of 20. This will go perfectly with my World Trade Center SAE.

  44. Erik H says

    So Krates, while buying a 2011 ASE set for $5 is highly unlikely. I did receive a ASE for $1 from a bank a few years back. So yes there are stupid people out there.

  45. jayjaspersgarage on ebay says

    Memorial Day. Flying the flag today! As for TPG slabs, I use them to have the collector coins I sell authenticated. Generally I never buy slabbed coins.

  46. Dustyroads says

    KSCO, Interesting article yes, but you’re going to lower your standards and explain to me what you mean by a “1 to 3 year fate of precious metals”. Thanks

  47. David says

    What are your thoughts on non-government issued silver bullion? What are your pros and cons? I see JM Bullion has Sunshine Minting 5oz silver bars for .79 cents over spot.

  48. So Krates says

    @ David – “Generic” silver bars are an economical way to add to a balanced silver stack. The five ounce unit is a good size and relatively easy to sell because even small time silver buyers can afford one (less than $100 currently). The price over spot sounds good, but as always don’t forget to consider the spread , i.e., the difference between the buy price and sell price. The buy price on 5 and 10 oz bars is about $.50-$.75 under the spot price so that is a spread off $1.29-$1,54 which is on the low side. The newer Sunshine bars are quite nice and include an anti-counterfeit feature on the back. Go for it!

  49. earthling says

    I was just wondering about the impact of China and Russia moving to a new World Bullion based Currency to push out the US Dollar. Is it possible their Puppet N Korea is also involved with their Missile Threat to disrupt and destroy the US? So if the USA started heading downward , wouldn’t it be imperative to grab all the Bullion in American hands to prop up the paper dollar? And wouldn’t that mean the Government would seize / call in everything you’re holding to include all your limited label 70 graded but otherwise common Bullion?

    Who could resist this call to defend the economy of the USA? What would be the point of keeping your MS70 and PF70 Precious Spouses , HR Liberties and assorted other junk?

    Lousy bunch of Nazi / Commie / Bass Tards? 😦

  50. Barry says

    I expect they will just create money out the wazoo and just let hyper inflation occur imo. One backup plan would be to take private pensions as it a large pool assets that can be easily accessed online. As for PM’s I can’t see them being required to be turned over but, who knows?

  51. MarkInFlorida says

    When silver goes to $100 an ounce, and gold to $5000 an ounce, all PM coins will go for bullion price. So buy bullion now, instead of overpriced gimmicks. (Don’t laugh, when silver was $4 and gold $250, people laughed at the thought they would go to $20 and $1000, yet they doubled that at one point.)

  52. cagcrisp says

    @David, I would Never buy generic bullion Silver. If you live in the United States buy bullion ASEs. What you save on the purchase you will lose on the sale…

  53. cagcrisp says

    “What you save on the purchase you will lose on the sale” is in reference to buying generic bullion Silver…

    Buy bullion ASEs…

  54. So Krates says

    Assume a $10,000 investment buying at $17.50 and selling at $25.

    David gets the Sunshine 5 oz bars he mentioned @ $.79/oz over spot which equates to (109) five oz bars plus two one oz. bars for a total of 547 ounces. At sales time he shops around and gets spot price for his 547 oz of bars bringing in proceeds of $13,675 for a profit of 37%.

    Cagcrisp finds some ASEs at $2.50 over which yields one full box of 500 coins. At sales time he shops around and gets spot price plus $1.25/oz. bringing in proceeds of $13,125 for a profit of 31%.

    By buying generic, David makes an extra $550. Approximately half the difference is from the smaller spread, while the rest of the gain is a result of having an extra 47 ounces invested over the period.

    IMO a diversified silver stack is the way to go. I also like ASEs as they usually have a small spread and are the most liquid. I like to split my bullion stack into roughly five equal parts:

    – 90% junk silver,
    – ASEs and CMLs
    – 1, 5, and 10 oz. rounds and bars
    – 100 oz. bars
    – Silver Dollars (Common date Morgans and Peace)

    Another added bonus of buying 5 oz bars is that there are some collectible older poured ingots you may occasional stumble upon and pick up cheaply. Many are quite valuable (and fun)

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