The US Mint has not sold 2009 American Silver Eagle Bullion coins since late November as a result of a depleted inventory due to exceptionally strong demand -- the 2009 total sales figure for the silver coin is just 7,000 shy of 26 million, an all-time high.
On Friday, December 4, the Mint announced that the eagles would again be available to authorized dealers, but on an allocated basis.
"On Monday, December 7, 2009, the United States Mint will resume taking orders for 2009-dated American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins," said U.S. Mint Director of Public Affairs Tom Jurkowsky. "These coins will be allocated among the Authorized Purchasers via the United States Mint standard allocation process."
The Mint does not sell American Silver Eagle bullion coins directly to the public, but to a network of Authorized Purchasers for a small amount over the current spot price of gold. These purchasers then resell them to coin dealers, precious metal providers, or to the public directly.
Only the bullion version of the 2009 Silver Eagle has been issued this year -- not the collector proof or uncirculated version with the "W," or West Point mint mark. Again, the enormous demand is the reason. There simply is not enough silver coins blanks to go around. According to the US Mint, their legal requirement to produce bullion coins in sufficient to meet public demand forced the 2009 eagle cancellations of the collector versions. (For a related story, read Rep. Peters Seeks 2009 Proof Silver Eagles.)
The obverse or heads side of the silver eagle is based on Adolph A. Weinman's 1916 "Walking Liberty" half dollar. It shows Lady Liberty walking while holding an olive branch. The reverse or tails side of the eagle was completed by US Mint Engraver John Mercanti and shows a Heraldic Eagle with shield. In the eagles beak is a scroll containing the words "E PLURIBUS UNIM."
The American Eagles series was first launched by the US Mint in 1986.
For more information on the eagle, click the image above.