The United States Mint has released images of the new 5-ounce America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins and they clearly show sharper, more detailed scenes than those depicted on circulating America the Beautiful Quarters™ which share the same designs.
The U.S. Mint began producing the bullion silver coins in September, and expects to strike 100,000 of each of the five 2010 designs for a total mintage of 500,000. They will have greater detail due to their specifications and the employed manufacturing process. U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White explains:
"Feature-wise, the designs are identical (between the circulating quarters and silver coins), however, the relief on the 3-inch bullion coin is reduced because of the ratio of the thickness to diameter is lower on the bullion coin. More detail will be present on the 3 inch since each work die is engraved and not hubbed. The hubbing process (that is traditionally used on standard coins like the quarters) softens the design and removes detail."
The technical specifications are substantially different between the two sized coins. Each America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin will:
- have a 3.0 inch diameter versus 0.955 inches for the quarters;
- weigh 5.0 ounces as compared to the weight of 11.340 grams in each quarter;
- have a composition of .999 fine silver versus the cupro-nickel metals in quarters;
- have incused into the edge the fineness and weight of the bullion coin as compared to the reeded edge of a quarter
Interestingly, newly introduced legislation that just passed in the U.S. House of Representatives would change the silver coins’ specifications.
As the above image reflects, the combination of the weight and diameter produces a thinner than typical American coin. Combined with the incused edges, as required by law, the Mint had several production challenges to hurdle in their making. Hurdle them they did, as the strikes showcase designs that are far more vibrant than those seen on the smaller quarters.
Placed on the 5-ounce bullion coins’ edges are the letters ".999 FINE SILVER 5.0 OUNCE." Aside from that design aspect, the designs on the obverse and reverse are duplicates of the circulating quarters.
As a bullion offering, the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Quarters will be sold through the Mint’s network of authorized dealers, exactly like other bullion products to include the American Gold Eagle and American Silver Eagle. How much buyers will have to pay above the spot of five ounces of silver is still in question.
"The premium charged Authorized Purchasers to purchase these coins is still being determined," White said. "The premium will be set at a level that ensures all program-related costs to produce, distribute and market these coins are recovered."
Additionally, White said a formal launch date has not been established for the 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Coins.
U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy indicated earlier in the year that there was a possibility for collector proof and uncirculated versions, but no announcement has been made as to whether they will be issued this year.
The 500,000 mintage will be spread equally between the Hot Springs National Park Silver Coin, Yellowstone National Park Silver Coin, Yosemite National Park Silver Coin, and the Mount Hood National Forest Silver Coin. The respective representing states are Arkansas, Wyoming, California, Arizona and Oregon.
For more information on the coins, also check out the article describing the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion coin program.