The United States Mint will issue a new series of coins in 2010 that are composed of silver and depict American National Parks and National Sites.
These coins are not the collector versions of the circulating America the Beautiful Quarters. They are, however, similar in name as they are called America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins and they share the same reverse designs.
Both new U.S. Mint coin series, the America the Beautiful Quarters™ Program and the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program, are authorized by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. The act was signed into Public Law 110-456 by former President Bush on December 23, 2008.
The main sections in it describe the new eleven year quarter coins that celebrate or commemorate a site within each state, the District of Columbia and United States Territories — Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands.
The bullion coins are more of a footnote in the law with investment language geared toward the end stating:
"The Secretary shall strike and make available for sale such number of bullion coins as the Secretary determines to be appropriate that are exact duplicates of the quarter dollars."
Public Law 110-456 mandates the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion coin specifications. It requires each to:
- have a diameter of 3.0 inches;
- weigh 5.0 ounces;
- contain .999 fine silver;
- have incused into the edge the fineness and weight of the bullion coin;
- bear an inscription of the denomination of such coin, which shall be ‘quarter dollar’; and
- not be minted or issued by the United States Mint as so-called ‘fractional’ bullion coins or in any other size
The bullion coins are huge by historical American coinage standards. They are twice the size of early US silver dollars, like the Morgan and Peace Dollars, and nearly double that of today’s American Eagle Silver, which is 1.598 inches in diameter and includes a single ounce of silver.
During the program’s 11 years and at a rate of 5 per year, the silver coins’ reverse will feature a design emblematic of 48 National Park sites, two U.S. Fish and Wildlife sites, and six U.S. Forest Service sites.
Because the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins are intended for investment purposes, they will be distributed exactly like other US Mint bullion coins which include the American Gold and Silver Eagle Bullion Coins and the American Buffalo Gold Bullion Coins. The Mint does not sell these directly to the public like it does with its numismatic offerings (proof an uncirculated eagles, for example), but instead makes them available to a small network of authorized purchasers who then resell them to dealers, collectors and the public at large.
As a side note, there is a possibility that numismatic versions of the coins will be produced at some point, and sold directly by the Mint. U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy said as much earlier in 2010.
The new silvers coins have been a production challenge, according to Mr. Moy who described difficulties in complying with the terms of the legislation.
"The law was very specific," Moy stated at a public coin forum. "They said it had to be a certain diameter and it had to be 5 ounces. Well, there isn’t a 5 ounce blank out there, so we had to get this custom made. Then, because it was 3 inches in diameter, well we’ve got a 5 ounce piece of silver and we stretch it out to a 3 inch diameter, it’s paper thin."
Moy continued to explain additional issues in incusing the edge lettering on the .999 fine silver coins by commenting that the first tests resulted in "crumples." The Mint has since made "breakthroughs," as Moy described.
Beginning in 2011, it is expected that each bullion coin will be released during the same time as its corresponding quarter launch. 2010 will be different, however, due to the lateness and production issues. Current plans are to release the first 2010 silver coin in late summer, with the following four 2010 silver coins being released at staggered intervals through the rest of the year.*
*Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article had indicated that the 2010 coins would be released mid-year and all at the same time. The Mint has shed more light on the releases, as the above paragraph now describes.
The order in which a National Park or National Site was first placed under the care of the federal government dictates when it will be honored on the quarter and silver coin. Here are the America the Beautiful Silver Coin release dates from 2010 to 2021.
America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin Release Schedule
|State / D.C. /
|2010 Silver Bullion Coins||Release
|Arkansas||Hot Springs National Park||TBA 2010|
|Wyoming||Yellowstone National Park||TBA 2010|
|California||Yosemite National Park||TBA 2010|
|Arizona||Grand Canyon National Park||TBA 2010|
|Oregon||Mount Hood National Forest||TBA 2010|
|2011 Silver Bullion Coins|
|Pennsylvania||Gettysburg National Military Park||TBA 2011|
|Montana||Glacier National Park||TBA 2011|
|Washington||Olympic National Park||TBA 2011|
|Mississippi||Vicksburg National Military Park||TBA 2011|
|Oklahoma||Chickasaw National Recreation Area||TBA 2011|
|2012 Silver Bullion Coins|
|Puerto Rico||El Yunque National Forest||TBA 2012|
|New Mexico||Chaco Culture National Historical Park||TBA 2012|
|Maine||Acadia National Park||TBA 2012|
|Hawaii||Hawaii Volcanoes National Park||TBA 2012|
|Alaska||Denali National Park||TBA 2012|
|2013 Silver Bullion Coins|
|New Hampshire||White Mountain National Forest||TBA 2013|
|Ohio||Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial||TBA 2013|
|Nevada||Great Basin National Park||TBA 2013|
|Maryland||Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine||TBA 2013|
|South Dakota||Mount Rushmore National Memorial||TBA 2013|
|2014 Silver Bullion Coins|
|Tennessee||Great Smoky Mountains National Park||TBA 2014|
|Virginia||Shenandoah National Park||TBA 2014|
|Utah||Arches National Park||TBA 2014|
|Colorado||Great Sand Dunes National Park||TBA 2014|
|Florida||Everglades National Park||TBA 2014|
|2015 Silver Bullion Coins|
|Nebraska||Homestead National Monument of America||TBA 2015|
|Louisiana||Kisatchie National Forest||TBA 2015|
|North Carolina||Blue Ridge Parkway||TBA 2015|
|Delaware||Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge||TBA 2015|
|New York||Saratoga National Historical Park||TBA 2015|
|2016 Silver Bullion Coins|
|Illinois||Shawnee National Forest||TBA 2016|
|Kentucky||Cumberland Gap National Historical Park||TBA 2016|
|West Virginia||Harpers Ferry National Historical Park||TBA 2016|
|North Dakota||Theodore Roosevelt National Park||TBA 2016|
|South Carolina||Fort Moultrie (Fort Sumter National Monument)||TBA 2016|
|2017 Silver Bullion Coins|
|Iowa||Effigy Mounds National Monument||TBA 2017|
|District of Columbia||Frederick Douglass National Historic Site||TBA 2017|
|Missouri||Ozark National Scenic Riverways||TBA 2017|
|New Jersey||Ellis Island National Monument (Statue of Liberty)||TBA 2017|
|Indiana||George Rogers Clark National Historical Park||TBA 2017|
|2018 Silver Bullion Coins|
|Michigan||Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore||TBA 2018|
|Wisconsin||Apostle Islands National Lakeshore||TBA 2018|
|Minnesota||Voyageurs National Park||TBA 2018|
|Georgia||Cumberland Island National Seashore||TBA 2018|
|Rhode Island||Block Island National Wildlife Refuge||TBA 2018|
|2019 Silver Bullion Coins|
|Massachusetts||Lowell National Historical Park||TBA 2019|
|Northern Mariana Islands||American Memorial Park||TBA 2019|
|Guam||War in the Pacific National Historical Park||TBA 2019|
|Texas||San Antonio Missions National Historical Park||TBA 2019|
|Idaho||Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness||TBA 2019|
|2020 Silver Bullion Coins|
|American Samoa||National Park of American Samoa||TBA 2020|
|Connecticut||Weir Farm National Historic Site||TBA 2020|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve||TBA 2020|
|Vermont||Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park||TBA 2020|
|Kansas||Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve||TBA 2020|
|2021 Silver Bullion Coins|
|Alabama||Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site||TBA|