Among the several locations of the US Mint for the manufacturing of valuable metal bullion coins, the West Point Mint is the prime location. In the case of high demand, the San Francisco Mint and the Philadelphia Mint are used to increase the American Silver Eagle production, usually during the New Year.
During 2014 to 2017, nearly 108 million American Silver Eagles were produced by the West Point Mint, while the San Francisco and Philadelphia Mints produced around 17 million.
Coin World recognized that various facilities had affected the 2017 Silver Eagles, and they demanded specific mintages from the US Mint, broken down by the facility. However, the mint denied providing the details. Due to which, on 06 February 2017, Coin World filed an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act).
FOIA offers the media and the public with the right to access information that may have been withheld from the federal government.
In response, the US Mint provided a letter on 20 March 2017, which included an ASE production breakdown by date and facility.
West Point Mint
- 2014: 23,450,000 ASEs
- 2015: 46,920,500 ASEs
- 2016: 31,900,000 ASEs
- 2017: 5,425,000 ASEs
- 2014: 0 ASEs
- 2015: 79,640 ASEs
- 2016: 1,151,500 ASEs
- 2017: 1,000,000 ASEs
San Francisco Mint
- 2014: 7,025,000 ASEs
- 2015: 0 ASEs
- 2016: 4,650,000 ASEs
- 2017: 3,000,000 ASEs
Regardless of the minting facility, American Silver Eagles are almost identical as they do not carry mint marks. Numismatists and coin collectors, however, try to know the mint facilities of coin. This was encountered by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC)’s coin grading experts that encouraged the question to the US Mint regarding minting locations.
NGC officials figured out a specific pattern in the ASEs’s serial numbers, discovered inside the monster boxes, which hold 500 tubed coins. The pattern revealed that different mint facilities were employed to make the coins. NGC officials also found that the quality of American Silver Eagles also differs from one facility to the next.
This compels Coin World to ask an explanation regarding the serial number in the FOIA filing, which was given in the response of the mint. It states that the monster boxes from the West Point were marked with 6 digit numbers starting with 1, 2, or 3.
The numbering system of the Philadelphia Mint employed two standards. A five-digit number serial number starting with 1 is used to marked the 2015 ASE monster boxes whereas six-digit number serial number starting with 5 was used for 2016 and 1017 ASE monster boxes.
The red banding was employed by San Francisco Mint to make their monster boxes different for 2014 ASEs, and a six-digit serial number starting with 4 was used to mark the 2016 and 1017 ASE monster boxes.
The US Mint used to employ color-coded bands for each facility. However, during the past year, the mint switched to using generic straps to secure full monster boxes. Now the only way to determine the mint facility is by using the serial number system.
For every facility, color-coded bands were used by The US Mint. However, during the past year, the mint scrapped the color-coded bands and started using generic straps to protect full monster boxes. Hence, the only method to identify the mint facility is the serial number system.