1995: The Year Of The Last Great Rare US Coin?

by CDN Publishing | Published on September 18, 2018

By Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez, Editor

As a modern coin enthusiast, I’m frequently making the case that the last great United States Mint rarity was released in 1995 – the year the 1995-W American Silver Eagle was issued as a free “bonus” in the 1995 10th Anniversary American Eagle proof set. The 5-piece proof set, issued for $999 (remember, the price of gold back then was about $387 per ounce), was an immediate hit, though relatively few collectors of American Silver Eagles could afford to buy four gold coins for the sake of picking up the 1995-W silver eagle.

The same was the case for me – I was 14 years old and didn’t have $1,000 to spend on buying the 1995 10th Anniversary American Eagle proof set. Sure, if we collectors had known the 1995-W proof silver eagle would go on to become a numismatic modern marvel, maybe we would’ve found a way to make the purchase happen. A loan… A hefty credit card charge… Or in my case as a teenager I could’ve mowed a few more lawns.

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. If I could’ve scraped up the dough back in 1995 to buy one of those proof sets, I would’ve made bank. Only 30,125 of these special 1995-W proof silver eagles were made, and today they regularly trade in the $3,000 to $5,000 range. That’s an easy 300% (or greater) profit on the investment, significantly outpacing inflation since 1995. And, had I been lucky enough to purchase a specimen of the 1995-W silver eagle capable of snagging a PR70 grade from Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) I could’ve used the funds to put a nicer down payment on the house I recently bought. After all, 1995-W PCGS PR70 silver eagles go for $15,000 on a bad day.

I know many collectors who wish they could’ve bought one (or more) of those 1995 10th Anniversary American Eagle proof sets. And, frankly, the 1995-W proof silver eagle is the last United States coin to date that I believe we numismatists could consider a real “rarity.” Granted, we’ve yet to see how the 2018 American Eagle palladium proof coin performs over the long run. It was released on September 6 and all 15,000 sold out within seven minutes; it was trading in the secondary market for nearly double its issue price, though the coin may be a flash in the pan. Only time will tell if it holds up as a bona fide rarity or was simply the flavor of the moment for collectors and investors in late 2018.

But unlike the parade of limited-edition sellouts the US Mint has spawned over the past several years, the 1995-W American Silver Eagle didn’t hit an early crescendo in the secondary marketplace only to fall flat months later. Rather, it has proven year in and year out to be a hot, in-demand issue that has matured as a real key coin with solid market performance throughout the years. No wonder so many hobbyists such as myself regret not having purchased the 1995-W American silver eagle way back when.

Will the US Mint ever produce another real rarity? And, I’m not talking about a scarce die variety like the 1990 no-S Lincoln cent or error such as the eye-popping 2000 Sacagawea/50 State Quarter mule, but an honest-to-goodness regular-issue rarity. If we’ve learned anything in numismatics, the US Mint is known to have a surprise or two up their sleeves when we least expect it.

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Source: CDN Publishing

CDN Publishing image The trusted name in numismatic pricing since 1963, CDN Publishing is home to important industry reference and price guides, including the Greysheet, Greensheet, CPG Rare Coin Market Review, and the CAC Rare Coin Market Review, and the Banknote Book. Located in Virginia Beach, you can find out more at www.greysheet.com, or call 757-655-1056.

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