Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
2004 American Eagle Series
I'm Inspector Collector, the badger here at the United States Mint, and July makes me think "fourth of July" and "stars and stripes" and "eagles." Of course, we had a star last month with the Texas quarter. This month, it's eagles...eagles you may never have seen before...and a kind of coin you may not know about called a "bullion" coin. Chances are good that you'll never find a bullion coin in your pocket. I'll tell you why.
As you may know, the coins we spend are made of metals (like zinc and nickel) that are less expensive and rare than other metals (like gold, silver, and platinum). Some people like to buy pieces of these rarer metals as an investment.
Now, most people would say that a hunk of raw gold isn't much to look at. But made into a coin...now, there's a beautiful investment! And that's why you won't find these coins in your pocket: bullion coins are made not to spend, but to save. Congress asked the United States Mint to start the American Eagle Bullion program in 1986. The eagles are on the back (reverse) behind Lady Liberty. Both the eagle and Lady Liberty are symbols that stand for freedom.
There are also two kinds of American Eagle coins: bullion and proof. People can buy the proof versions from the Mint, but the bullion versions are sold by bullion distributors. The two kinds of coins look very different. Special dies are used for proofs, making the frosted images look as if they're floating above the mirror-smooth background. Very pretty indeed!