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Let's talk 20th Anniversary American Eagles from the U.S. Mint... But before we do, I'll hit a few basics in case you're just getting started. I'm interested in your opinions, so please contact me if you have any questions or comments... and please remember to vote yes at the bottom. Good luck investors...
1. Which certification companies are the best? There are too many other articles out there that cover this topic, so I'll just say this... PCGS is the most respected in the industry, with NGC a very close second. Disregard all others, as they cannot be counted on to provide creditable evaluations which will increase the value of your collection over time. With very few exceptions (one in particular noted below), perfect coins from PCGS are without a doubt the best investment you can make as a buyer. If you have coins you'd like to certify, however, you should carefully consider both companies to determine your best chance of increasing the overall value of your submission – most likely your ultimate goal. I will go into detail on this subject below, but first, we need to continue with the basics.
2. Which American Eagles are classified as 20th Anniversary? The U.S. Mint produced three distinct sets of 20th Anniversary American Eagles in 2006:
a. Three silver coins – One Proof, one reverse proof, and one uncirculated. Mintage: 250,000 (Reverse proof is key here)
b. Two coins - One gold uncirculated coin and one silver uncirculated coin. Mintage: 20,000 (see why this set may contain the best silver Eagle investment of all below)
c. Three gold coins - proof, reverse proof, and uncirculated. Mintage: 10,000 (Reverse proof and overall low mintage is key here)
3. What do the colored labels signify? PCGS does not color code 20th Anniversary American Eagle labels; the colored labels are unique to NGC certification as follows:
a. NGC encapsulates set 2.a. above with a black label and by noting the words “SILVER DOLLAR SET” on the slab.
b. Set 2.b. receives a blue label and the phrase noted above is omitted. This distinct labeling will likely make these coins more valuable in the future… I’ll talk about this more later.
c. Set 2.c. will receive blue labels, which means the uncirculated 20th Anniversary gold coin in set 2.b. is indistinguishable from same coin in set 2.c. This is OK, since both sets have a combined mintage of 30,000 uncirculated gold coins. Neither NGC nor PCGS distinguish between the uncirculated gold coins of the two sets.
4. Where can I buy these coins? EBAY, of course! However, if you are not familiar with Heritage Auctions, they are an extremely reputable coin consigner and auctioneer. They are not yet the place to find 20th Anniversary Eagles, but if you’re looking for a wide variety of coins
that aren’t readily available on EBAY, you can find them at heritageauctions. Remember, with this type of auctioneer (as with some EBAY
auctions), there is often a “Buyer’s Premium”, which is a (sometimes significant) amount added on to the final auction price.
5. Mint sealed or open box? Why all the hubbub about leaving the coin sets in their original box from the U.S. Mint? Here's the real deal... If you break the seal on the original box that was shipped from the U.S. Mint, you have just made it impossible for NGC or PCGS to distinguish
some of the coins therein from other 2006 coins produced by the Mint. In other words, the certification company will not certify them as “20th Anniversary” coins. This only applies to Proofs and Uncirculated coins, however – Reverse Proof will still receive the “20th Anniversary”
label if submitted in an “unsealed” or non- U.S. Mint shipping box because these coins were only produced by the Mint in 20th Anniversary sets. Therefore, in some cases, it can be very profitable for you to buy an open set that contains a reverse proof (either gold or silver). Some EBAY
sellers are not aware of the potential value of that coin in these opened sets. I won’t talk prices here; you can scan through completed auctions on EBAY to discover those for yourself. If you’ve been skimming up to now, you may want to take a closer look at this point.
6. Which company should I send my coins to for certification? There are two very important factors you should consider here:
a. Before you certify, you should know the percent chance your coins have of achieving each grade from both PCGS and NGC. You can determine these percentages on your own by subscribing to the population reports from both companies ($50 - $200/year each) and then
making the calculations based on their numbers. These percentages can then be used to determine the range of possible outcomes you can reasonably expect per company. Marry this data up with research from current sales per grade and you can see which route is best. I have a table filled in with the correct percentages and I encourage you to do the same. You should use it religiously to determine the best course of action when buying or certifying your coins.
b. In addition to knowing your “odds”, you should also know the difference in the way PCGS and NGC grade these coins. I already described how NGC differentiates between the sets. In addition to that, you should know the following based on my email correspondence with both companies:
1. Although NGC distinguishes between the uncirculated silver coin in the three silver coin (black label) set and that of the two coin gold/silver (blue label) set, they do not publish the certification numbers separately in their population report. In other words, although the coins are labeled differently, you cannot currently tell how many blue label 20th Anniversary Silver Eagles (20,000 mintage) NGC has certified, since their numbers are lumped in with the plethora of black label Eagles (250,000 mintage) being certified. The only thing you can glean from the population report is that you have a nearly 15% chance of receiving a grade of MS-70 on uncirculated 20th Anniversary Silver Eagles that you submit from either set. Although this sounds like bad news, it in fact represents a tremendous opportunity for savvy buyers when coupled with the knowledge you’re about to gain from point two…
*Update: See our other guides for a "best guess" as to how many blue label 70's there are.
2. PCGS has stated that they do not make any labeling distinction between the uncirculated silver coins from the three coin set and those from the two coin set. Further, up until late July of 2007, after certifying over 9,500 uncirculated 20th Anniversary silver eagles, PCGS had yet to give a grade of MS70 to a single one (see our other guide on the subject for more details). Unless you really feel lucky, I do not advise sending two coin 20th Anniversary Eagle sets to PCGS for certification. One exception, of course, you might send it in if you think the future value of the uncirculated gold coin (PCGS does issue MS70 grades on some of these) will outweigh the fact that your silver coin will be lost in a high population with a 99+% chance of a grade no higher than MS69.
7. Which coins will be most valuable in the future? With the exception of one coin that I omitted from the list (explained later), here are my picks:
a. Hands down… A "First Strikes" PCGS Gold and/or Silver three coin set graded all 70’s will always be a great bet. The gold reverse proof will probably always be the most valuable of these three; however, you may be surprised at how rapidly your PR70DCAM appreciates, since it certifies at that grade less than one fifth the rate of the reverse proof. Remember, only 10,000 were minted as “20th Anniversary”, and only a fraction of those will be certified as such. If you can get your hands on the Silver PCGS MS70 First Strike for a decent price, buy it - whether alone or as part of the three coin set.
b. Find a reverse proof 70 from PCGS or NGC that you can afford and grab it. This is the first time the Mint has produced such a coin…
c. As far as the Silver three coin sets, you’ll have to make your own determination based on the following: You know now that, unless you're lucky enough to get one of the 30 or so sets available, the best you can do from PCGS is a PR70 Reverse Proof, a PR70DCAM Proof, and an MS69 uncirculated. With NGC, you can get perfect 70s across the board. Since the MS69 from PCGS has none finer, I think it’ll still appreciate at a good rate despite the large MS69 population. The MS70 from NGC will far outpace it, however, due to much lower population at grade with none higher. Consider this: There's only one company worth it's salt awarding MS70 to this coin... they're going to be a collector's item. In March of 2007, you could pick them up all day long for $350 on EBAY... By the end of May, they're already going for upwards of $1,000. Imagine what this price increase will do to the much rarer NGC Blue Label 20th Anniversary at a max pop of somewhere around 500 in MS70.
d. The uncirculated gold 20th Anniversary Eagle (2006w) has a combined mintage of only 30,000; and only a fraction of them will be certified perfect. This will become a rare collector’s piece. As I said, your call between PCGS and NGC, but remember, if you choose to send your sealed two coin set to PCGS, you’re all but giving up the silver coin.
8. Now, let’s talk about the coin I am currently most interested in… An NGC MS70 Blue Label 2006-W 20th Anniversary Silver Eagle (mentioned above) is a true gem, and will, perhaps, become the most valuable Silver Eagle yet. With a mintage of only 20,000, you’d think that in itself would be a great selling point; but I strongly urge you to consider the following before you buy any of the coins I just listed above…
a. Of the 20,000 minted, how many will not be certified as “20th Anniversary” because the original mint seal was broken before reaching the certification company?
b. Of the 20,000 minted, how many will not be certified as “20th Anniversary” because they will never be sent in for certification?
c. Of the 20,000 minted, how many will not receive the blue label because they were unwittingly sent to PCGS, thereby rendering them absolutely indistinguishable from any of the thousands of uncirculated 20th Anniversary Silver Eagles submitted from the three coin set with mintage of 250,000?
d. Of the 20,000 minted, how many will be sent to certification companies other than NGC or PCGS?
e. In the near future, certification of new 20th Anniversary Eagles and availability of “Mint Sealed Boxes” will all but die out. At that point, the only coins that you will absolutely know came from the two coin 20th Anniversary Set will be the NGC Blue Label Silver Eagles. Remember the following:
i. The uncirculated Gold Eagles will receive the blue label whether they come from the two coin or the three coin set, meaning the pool they draw from is a total mintage of 30,000 vice 20,000. Only the Silver Eagle from this set will be uniquely labeled by NGC and therefore distinguishable as having originated from the two coin set.
ii. Opened (Unsealed) Mint boxes could contain substitute uncirculated coins (i.e. regular 2006w uncirculated coins). In other words, someone could’ve already sent the set in for certification, sold the certified coins, and then re-used the original mint box and certificate of authenticity that the certification company returned to them when their coins were certified. This is why these coins are not eligible for certification as “20th Anniversary”.
f. Currently, the 1995w is the rarest and most valuable Silver Eagle with a mintage of over 30,000. These coins can be found selling for well over $20,000 already.
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9. Well, that’s all I have for you on 20th Anniversary Eagles at this time. Good luck to both buyers and seller out there. I hope you are able to reach all of your numismatic (and financial) goals. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch with ShakeMyHand. If you liked what you read, please vote!
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