A law stipulating that the U.S. Mint’s silver collector issues of commemoratives, half dollars, quarters, and dimes must be composed of 90% silver and 10% copper has been amended to allow the Mint to increase that silver content when desirable.
The Bullion and Collectible Coin Production Efficiency and Cost Savings Act, signed by President Obama last Friday, amends 31 U.S. Code § 5132, which dictated that these collector coins “shall be made of an alloy of 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.” The phrasing in that clause has been updated to say these coins should be composed of “not less than 90 percent silver.”
Though it is unclear how the Mint will use this new freedom, it’s very possible that its commemorative coins and Silver Proof Sets could soon boast higher silver contents, moving those offerings closer in composition to silver coins produced at several other national mints.
The Mint does currently offer American Eagle Silver Proof and Uncirculated coins composed of 99.9% silver; these issues avoided the old 90% restriction because they are considered collector versions of bullion coins.
The new Act also declared that special Silver Eagles will be produced for 2016. West Point minted Proof and Uncirculated versions of the coin “shall have a smooth edge incused with a designation that notes the 30th anniversary of the first issue of coins” in 2016. In other words, the edge of the coins will bear an inscription and be smooth rather than reeded.
2016 American Eagle Silver bullion coins can be purchased via pre-sale from authorized distributors, but the Mint will not begin officially taking orders until January 11.