The United States Mint anticipates it will produce up to 500,000 America the Beautiful 5 oz silver bullion coins this year.
An exact date has not been provided for their release, although U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White said on August 11 that they expected to begin producing the 3-inch diameter, .999 fine silver coins in the fall.
The timetable is a bit behind prior estimates. The Mint’s preliminary schedule provided to CoinNews.net in April forecasted that this year’s five different designed 5 oz silver coins would debut in staggered intervals beginning later this summer.
As U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy described earlier in the year, part of the delay has been in developing a process to inscribe the fineness and weight on the edge of each coin. The special design element is mandated by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act, which was signed into law by former President George W. Bush in December 2008.
The challenges of incusing the edges, which are particularly thin due to the required bullion coin diameter and weight specifications, have been overcome with the help of a newly purchased coin press that was designed to strike larger coins. White said the development work on the 5-ounce silver blank is completed, and that the final specifications have been sent to their suppler, Sunshine Minting, Inc. in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
White said an order will be placed with Sunshine "in the next few days," adding that the Mint will be seeking final approval from the Secretary of the Treasury on the exact mintage figures.
The America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins will be duplicates of the standard circulating America the Beautiful Quarters™, with the exception of their size and ".999 FINE SILVER 5.0 OUNCE" edge letterings. Circulating quarters have a reeded edge — 119 reeds in total, and a diameter of 0.955 inches, or 24.26 millimeters. They weigh just 5.670 grams.
The five quarter-dollars this year that will be replicated in design include:
- 2010 Hot Springs National Park Quarter for Arkansas,
- 2010 Yellowstone National Park Quarter for Wyoming,
- 2010 Yosemite National Park Quarter for California,
- 2010 Grand Canyon National Quarter Park for Arizona, and
- 2010 Mount Hood National Quarter Forest for Oregon
The first three coins were released into circulation earlier this year, with the Yosemite quarter launched just two weeks ago. The Grand Canyon and Mt. Hood quarters will be issued on September 20 and November 15, respectively.
Since the America the Beautiful silver coins are bullion and not numismatic issues, they will be distributed through the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers, similar to the bullion American Eagles and the bullion American Buffalo Gold coins. Director Moy also indicated earlier in the year that there is a potential for proof and uncirculated versions for collectors, but there is no official decision for them at the time of this writing.
The America the Beautiful coins will honor 56 national parks and other national sites with five releases each year until the final issue in 2021. The majority (48) of the sites are national parks. As such, the authorizing law also includes a provision where the National Park Service (NPS) can purchase quantities of the silver coins, and then resell them directly to the public. The NPS has not announced whether they will offer any this year.
Premiums for the 5-ounce bullion coins have not yet been determined by Mint officials.