|I inherited a lot of silver and gold eagles of all sizes from 1/10 oz up to 1 full oz -- silver eagles tend to only come in 1 oz size.|
You can buy them almost everywhere, including the US Mint (my father subscribed to get 3 of every gold and silver product the mint was selling).
There's a bit of a premium over spot price for U.S. gold and silver eagles because they have U.S. name on them. They are terrible investments for long stretches of time, then they catch fire.
A much better way to go is with the pre-1932 gold coins -- they command large premiums because they have significant numismatic value, whereas the eagles are essentially just bullion with official U.S. govt backing them up. Instead of eagles, one would be better off (better prices, lower premium when buying) just buying rounds or bars of various sizes from one of several major private mints -- per bullion coin premium is lower than eagles and unless your silver eagles grade/slab at least MS-68 or better, they're just pieces of metal and not collectible, nor have much premium attached to them.
The best way to acquire eagles (gold or silver) is to inherit them. Or buy directly from the mint and especially with the silver eagles, get the BU (brilliant uncirculated). They give the most bang for the buck and the metal prices have to really go up before you get any appreciable premium for the silver eagles. The 24K gold buffalo coins are a slightly better value, but forget collecting them like traditional coins -- they scratch just looking at them they are so soft.
I cherry picked BU and proof silver eagles from Dad, one from each mint for 30 some years; all proofs, but when I sent a few to be graded and slabbed the grades were all over the map. A collection like that where they all grade out at 70 (perfect), is worth about $10K, but that same collection averaging grades of 68? worth exactly the same as if you were selling/buying individual coins, a bit above $2,000 I think when I checked a couple or three years ago when I inherited 1/3 of Dad's stash -- and silver was above $16/oz at the time... much lower now.
It got to the point I started selling almost all of the silver coins, period... my most valuable silver coin was a commemorative made by the mint on the 75th anniversary of a Civil War battle and the only coins ever that had both Lee and Grant on them. It was a 1/2 oz 90% silver coin in AU condition making it worth about twice the going spot price for gold, not silver. 98% of commemorative coins never appreciate more than the bullion itself and in fact, some dealers won't touch them because there's no demand -- or as one guy told me, there is demand for a short while for the latest, most recent commems, but the mint makes 2-4 different commems every year. Then the next year, the value of the previous year's commems goes down as does demand for them. Even gold commems are not ideal -- you will get at least spot price on those most of the time.
Apmex (an online buyer and seller of all manner of coins foreign and domestic) is a decent starting point to get a feel for the gold and silver eagles, and they buy and sell other types of coins, too... they are on the up and up for the most part and offer lower premiums for buying in quantity, but not if you sell to them. They also have minimum amounts before they'll even talk to you... as I recall they wouldn't touch any buy or sell for less than $10K for some products and $1k for others. They are a good source of buying actual U.S. pre-1964 silver coins (90% silver), again, mostly because the US brand on coins is worth at least a little premium.
In most cases, when you buy, expect to pay $1-$2 per oz for BU or better silver eagles, but when you sell, you'll only get current spot price. Same issue with gold, but the premiums are larger both buying and selling. I know a retired dealer who explained they have to try to maintain a certain level of stock to sell, but to make a profit, coins like silver commems only bring spot price MINUS a premium to spot regardless of grade/quality.
He also tells me there just isn't much demand for bullion coins any more 10-20 years ago they were sort of a novelty and one could make money buying/selling them... but the last 10 years, there just hasn't been any demand for anything but gold or silver numismatic coins that are worth more to certain types of collectors than plain old eagles.
Maple Leafs are essentially the same as eagles in almost every respect, except (not sure if this is true or not) they sometimes sold 1, 2, 5, 10 oz silver maple leafs which were interesting.
And to top it all off, you gotta store these things -- completely safe storage costs money and slowly drains value from them.
After inheriting all those silver eagles, they came in nice little display boxes and made good gifts to young folk for birthdays and Christmas, but other than that -- I got rid of almost all the silver eagles. I kept the gold eagles because they come in 1/10oz; 1/4oz; 1/2 oz and 1oz and the gold eagles always fare better than the silver. Same situation with Canadian, Mexican, Australian, South African, etc. -- they are all about the same, just come in different sizes/weights.
They do make good/fun stocking stuffers for younger folks, but as an investment? Not so hot unless they have numismatic value, too, which excludes about 98% of the eagles pumped out by the mint. Otherwise you pay (and receive) smaller premiums for true bullion products like rounds or bars of various weights -- and 3 or 4 private mints hold their own price-wise with US eagles or the maple leafs, etc.
The one thing I did like about the 1/10 and 1/4 oz gold eagles is you could turn them into very nice necklaces -- everyone sells little "adaptors" so you can put them on a chain -- but if you do that with say 1/10 oz eagles, the chain -- if it's any good and fairly high purity gold themselves, the chain can be worth more than the coins. But both my wife and my daughter really like their 1/10 oz coins, in pendant adaptors and put on chains of at least 18K gold or better.
FWIW, the US mint also sells platinum and palladium bullion coins as well, but what's the point -- they look exactly like the much much cheaper silver eagles.