Silver Eagle Dollar Overview
Sometimes referred to as an American Silver Eagle, the Silver Eagle dollar is one of the most widely collected and purchased coins today and is the official silver bullion coin of the United States.
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This stunning coin was first struck in 1986 as part of the American Eagle Bullion Coin Program. These bullion coins, true to their name, were intended more for investors to use for investing in the precious metals market.
Nevertheless, these coins are still popular among numismatists who value their design and quality.
The obverse design is a slightly modified version of Adolph Weinmann’s design for the Walking Liberty half dollar that was minted from 1916 to 1947. It features a full body image of Liberty walking in a flowing dress. In the lower left field is a sun, and the lower right holds the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST.”
Below Liberty is the year of mintage, and along the upper portion of the rim is the legend “LIBERTY.”
On the reverse, which was designed by John Mercanti, a heraldic eagle is centered behind a Union shield clutching an olive branch in one foot and a bundle of arrows in the other.
Above the Eagle’s head are thirteen stars and the legend “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” and along the lower rim is the inscription “1 OZ. FINE SILVER ~ ONE DOLLAR.”
Silver Eagle dollars are still minted today and have been struck in bullion, proof, and uncirculated issues.
They are 99.93% silver and 0.07% copper and have a mass of 31.10 grams and a diameter of 40.6 millimeters.
History of the 1987 Silver Eagle Dollar
The 1987 issue was the second year of the Silver Eagle dollar. The production numbers for this year were double those of 1986, likely a response to the huge popularity displayed for the coins of the prior year.
Accordingly, 1987 specimens are relatively common today compared to certain other issues.
1987 Silver Eagles are typical for the series in terms of composition and design.
Differences between Bullion, Uncirculated, and Proof Issues
Throughout their mintage, American Silver Eagles have been struck in three different issues: bullion, uncirculated, and proof.
Bullion strikes are the issues that are struck in the highest numbers. They are intended for use by investors as physical representations of silver investment. They are only sold through designated metal dealers.
Uncirculated strikes, on the other hand, are numismatic in nature, meaning that they are made for collectors. They are struck on specially burnished planchets and are treated in such a way as to ensure a quality strike and a fine matte luster.
Proof strikes are likewise for collectors. They are the highest quality coins produced by the Mint. They are made with polished dies and planchets and are usually struck twice to imbue the coin with a frosty foreground and a mirror-like background.
In short, none of these three issues are truly intended for circulation. If you are looking to start collecting American Silver Eagles, the uncirculated and proof issues are likely what you will be looking for.
Valuing the 1987 Silver Eagle Dollar
The face value of a Silver Eagle is one dollar, but as stated in the previous section, these coins are not really intended to be used as legal tender.
Even the intrinsic value (the value of the silver contained in the coin) is much higher than face value, so spending a Silver Eagle is an inherent loss. Collecting or investing is the best way to get maximum value out of these unique coins.
Based on the current price of silver, the intrinsic or melt value of the 1987 Silver Eagle is $16.17. This value is the same regardless of condition or issue (bullion, proof, etc.).
Numismatically speaking, a 1987 Silver Eagle graded from MS-60 to MS-64 tends to be worth between $24 and $26. Although this would be a high grade range for most coins, this is not true for Silver Eagles, which tend not to be circulated.
The value increases to $27 in MS-65, $28 in MS-66, $29 in MS-67, $35 in MS-68, and $60 in MS-69. MS-70 examples, considered to be in perfect condition, may bring an impressive $1,600.
Values for circulated coins (below MS-60) are difficult to pinpoint since almost all Silver Eagles sold and traded are uncirculated. It is likely that circulated Silver Eagles are better sold as silver and are simply worth their intrinsic value, still a fair price for the coin.