Proof Silver Eagles have been issued each year from 1986 to 2008. Struck using specially prepared dies and featuring a cameo finish, these coins have been long time favorites of collectors. To the dismay of many, the coins were not issued during 2009 due to high demand for silver bullion coins. The prospect of issuing a 2010 Proof Silver Eagle remains tenuous. Although the status as an ongoing series has been threatened, the issues released in prior years are widely collected.
The Proof Silver Eagle has been minted at three different mint facilities over the years. The coins were first produced at the San Francisco Mint and carried the “S” mint mark from 1986 to 1992. From 1993 to 2000, production of the standard Proof Silver Eagles took place at the Philadelphia Mint and coins bore the “P” mint mark. Lastly, from 2001 to 2008, production took place at the West Point Mint with coins bearing the “W” mark.
At various times, the Proof American Silver Eagle has carried maximum production limits for each year. The first limit was imposed for the 1990 Proof Silver Eagle, at 700,000 coins. This entire amount was sold out, although following adjustments the final mintage was 695,510. The maximum mintage imposed varied in subsequent years. From 2005 onwards, a maximum was not imposed and the coins were struck to demand throughout the year of issuance.
Although primarily sold individually, there have been some Proof Silver Eagles included in specially issued U.S. Mint products. The most famous is the 1995-W Proof Silver Eagle, which was included within the 10th Anniversary Gold Eagle Proof Set. This Silver Eagle differed from the regular proof issue since it carried the “W” mint mark, rather than “P”. The limited issuance of this coin led to the creation of a famous modern rarity. The 1993 Proof Silver Eagle was included in a special Philadelphia Mint Bicentennial Set, which also contained the $25, $10, and $5 Proof Gold Eagles. A few years later, the 1997 Proof Silver Eagle was included in the Impressions of Liberty Set issued for the start of the Platinum Eagle series.
Most recently, a proof and reverse proof Silver Eagle were included in 2006 20th Anniversary Silver Eagle Set. The proof coins matched the standard version, while the reverse proof coin featured frosted backgrounds and mirrored raised design elements and was produced at the Philadelphia Mint with the “P” mint mark.