In 1986, the U.S. Mint introduced the Eagle coins – the first silver and gold bullion coins in U.S. history. They were known as the Eagle coins because of the eagle designs on the reverse. The eagle is a symbol of the United States. In addition, the term “eagle” is the technical description for the $10 U.S. gold coin, so it conjured up images of classic gold coins.
The Silver Eagle is the largest and heaviest silver coin in U.S. history. It is struck with one full ounce of pure silver, so it is even bigger than a classic Morgan or Peace Silver Dollar. The obverse is the Walking Liberty design that first appeared on the 1916-1947 Walking Liberty Half Dollar, while the reverse shows a heraldic eagle and 13 stars to represent the original 13 states. The reverse also includes the U.S. government’s guarantee of the coin’s silver weight and One Dollar legal tender value. The same design is used each year; in addition to standard Brilliant Uncirculated bullion coins, a small number of Proof coins are also made each year.
The Gold Eagle is made in four different sizes: $5 coin with 1/10 ounce of pure gold, $10 coin with 1/4 ounce of pure gold, $25 coin with 1/2 ounce of pure gold, and $50 coin with one ounce of pure gold. The obverse is Augustus Saint Gaudens’ design of Liberty that was first used on the 1907-1933 $20 gold coin, while the reverse is a family of eagles and the U.S. government’s guarantee of the coin’s gold weight and legal tender status. Like the Silver Eagle, the same design is used each year. A small number of Proof coins are also struck every year in addition to the Brilliant Uncirculated coins.
The Platinum Eagle was first issued in 1997. There are four different coin sizes: $10 coin with 1/10 ounce of pure platinum, $25 coin with 1/4 ounce of pure platinum, $50 coin with 1/2 ounce of pure platinum, and $100 coin with one ounce of pure platinum. The $100 Platinum Eagle is the highest-denomination U.S. coin ever made. The obverse of each Brilliant Uncirculated coin depicts the face of the Statue of Liberty, while the reverse shows an eagle in flight. Proof coins in 1997 had the same design, but since 1998 a new reverse design of an eagle has been used each year for the Proof coins.