Varieties and coin errors have been a hot topic of late when it comes to the United States Mint series of America the Beautiful 5 Oz Silver Uncirculated Coins. Discussions on various media outlets, coin forums and collector blogs have noted them. The Mint has now confirmed them as well.
The United States Mint statement, shown below, noted that it was "apparent that several varieties" of uncirculated coins existed which had "differing or missing vapor blast finishes."
The cause of the varieties is being investigated. The equipment used in producing the coins appears to be a focal point. The Mint said it relies on retrofitted vapor blasting equipment which was originally designed for 3-inch medals. To address the problems and restore production consistency in its line of America the Beautiful five ounce products, the Mint has ordered new equipment designed specifically for the larger uncirculated coins.
On Wednesday morning, the United States Mint provided a statement on the varieties. That statement follows in its entirety:
"From photographs we have received, and reports from coin grading services, it is apparent that several varieties of America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins exist with differing or missing vapor blast finishes. We are looking into the cause of the inconsistency in finishes, examining each step in the post-production process when vapor blasting is applied. We are committed to restoring the consistency for which United States Mint products are known worldwide.
While we have ordered new equipment to execute automated vapor blasting on the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins, we are currently using the process originally used for our 3-inch medals. That equipment required retro-fitting and readjustment for the process, and has required additional maintenance due to the higher volume and substantially increased wear of this program.
The new equipment will allow us to move from the manual, batch process to more closely integrate the vapor blasting application into the overall production line for the coin."
Recent News on Graded Varieties and Errors
In recent days, coin grading service NGC has published two press releases on both a variety and an error that were discovered on two America the Beautiful 5 Oz Silver Uncirculated Coins.
The variety was recognized on a Grand Canyon National Park 5 Oz Silver Uncirculated Coin last week. (Read the NGC news release.) NGC gave the America the Beautiful coin a "Light Finish" variety designation, saying:
"Two distinct surface finishes of the 2010-P Grand Canyon Specimens have been observed: coins with the regular coarse matte finish and coins that have a slightly reflective satin finish. The latter type, designated “Light Finish” by NGC, is distinct from both the bullion version and the standard collector version. This hybrid type is easily identified — it has the same “P” mintmark as the other Specimen issues, but its surfaces are not granular and are more lustrous. The Light Finish coins are also dissimilar from the fully brilliant surfaces of the bullion issue."
The third-party grading service later announced the discovery of an error on a Yellowstone National Park 5 Oz Silver Uncirculated Coin. (Read this NGC news release.) The America the Beautiful coin has the proper matte finish on the obverse but an incorrect brilliant finish on the reverse. NGC described it as follows:
"The vapor-blasting process is applied after the coins are struck by “blasting” a compressed mixture of water vapor and ceramic media. On this error, only the Washington side was vapor-blasted but the Yellowstone side was untouched. The Washington side therefore resembles a Specimen while the Yellowstone side appears similar to a bullion issue. NGC has graded this error Specimen 69 and the description “With Unfinished Reverse” is given on the label."
More information on the two uncirculated coins noted above and others in the series may be found on this site’s information page about National Park Silver Coins.