The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 15, Number 54, December 30, 2012, Article 6


We've already had a couple reviews of the new book on American Silver Eagles, but here's a another, this one by John and Nancy Wilson. Thanks. -Editor

Americann Silver Eagles American Silver Eagles – A guide to the U. S. Bullion Program, John M. Mercanti, Chief Engraver, United States Mint (Ret.), With Michael “Miles” Standish, Senior Grader, PCGS, Foreword by Michael Reagan, 2012, Whitman Publishing, LLC, Reviewed by John and Nancy Wilson, NLG

This hard cover reference has 164 pages and hundreds of excellent color illustrations. In the foreword by Michael Reagan he says: President Reagan was a very good friend to the numismatic hobby. The American Silver Eagle was authorized by President Ronald Reagan on July 9, 1985.

This is John Mercanti’s first book and along with Michael Standish have done a superb job. Michael Standish started collecting at a young age and today is vice-president of business development for PCGS and a senior grader. John Mercanti received his artistic training at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia College of Art, and the Fleisher Art Memorial School. In 1974 he started as a sculptor-engraver (under the legendary Frank Gasparro) for the U. S. Mint. In 2006 he became the chief engraver and retired in 2010.

Mr. Mercanti is credited with producing more coin and medal designs than any employee in the history of the U. S. Mint. He was the sculptor/engraver of the American Silver Eagle reverse. Weinman’s half dollar design was redesigned by John Mercanti and used on the American Silver Eagle obverse.

Chapter 1: Covers the history of the U. S. Bullion Coin Program. Analyzed is the value of silver and gold from the 1930s to mid -1960s. The Executive Order dated April 5, 1933 requiring the delivery of gold to the government, and the 1974 President Ford re-legalization of private ownership of gold – in bars, coins and certificates are discussed.

Chapter 2: Behind the Scenes at the U. S. Mint. Mr. Mercanti discusses the elements of good design; design selection; The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, and the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts. Mr. Mercanti also talks about, engraving, die preparation and the cleaning process. A sampling of 24 American Eagles is shown for comparison with each other.

Chapter 3: Date-by-Date (Coin-by-Coin) Study of American Silver Eagles. This is the largest and most interesting chapter. The historical context of each coin gives readers a market overview. Each coin from 1986 to 2012 in proof, bullion, burnished, along with the special 2011, 25thAnniversary special set is discussed and shown .

Chapter 4: Other U. S. Bullion Coins and Medals. Covered in this chapter are: the American Arts Commemorative Series Medals (1980 - 1984); America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins (2010 - 2021); American Eagle Gold Bullion Coins (1986 to Date); American Buffalo .9999 Fine Gold Bullion Coins (2006 to Date); First Spouse 10 Gold Bullion Coins 2007 – 2016); MMIX Ultra High Relief Gold Coin (2009); American Eagle Platinum Bullion Coins (1997 to Date), and finally the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coins (Proposed).

Appendix A: Populations, Mintages, and Values. The Certified Coin Populations from the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) in grades 65 to 70 are given. The American Silver Eagle Mintages are shown for the bullion strikes and proofs. Values for the Bullion Strikes (Mint State) and Proofs are also shown.

Appendix B: Illustrated Catalog of John Mercanti’s Numismatic Work. On seven pages you see the U.S. coins and a sampling of the medals designed and/or sculpted by John Mercanti.

Glossary: The terms used to describe coins are covered in four pages.

John M. Mercanti and Michael “Miles” Standish have come together and authored an outstanding reference. The book covers very thoroughly anything and everything you would ever want to know about American Silver Eagles. We recommend “American Silver Eagles, A Guide to the U. S. Bullion Coin Program,” for coin collectors, dealers, investors and historians. It is a great value at the list price of $29.95. For information on purchasing it, you can contact the publisher at: Whitman Publishing, LLC, 3103 Clairmont Rd., Suite B, Atlanta, Ga 30329 or visit their web page at,, or call (800) 546-2995.

Wayne Homren, Editor

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