The United States Mint will not change America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin specifications despite recently inheriting new authority to adjust their size.
The Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act, which was signed into Public Law 111-302 by President Obama on December 14, permits the US Mint to produce the 5-ounce, .999 fine silver coins in a diameter ranging between 2.5-3.0 inches. The original law mandated a 3.0 inch diameter.
Changing their current 3.0 inch size would take time and deepen expenses, a US Mint official told CoinNews.net.
"We, as well as our suppliers, have invested money in tooling based on the 3.0 inch size. To change the size at this time would only cause additional delays and require us to spend additional funds that would have to be recovered, ultimately from the public," according to Gordan Hume, the United States Mint’s deputy director of Public Affairs.
Hume said the US Mint spent substantial development effort in achieving the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin launch based on the 3.0 inch size specifications.
For the aforementioned reasons and to promote consistency, Hume added that the Mint’s current plans are to maintain the 3.0 inch size "throughout the life of the program."
The 3.0 inch requirement resulted in significant delays and production challenges which were deepened when incusing each coin’s edge with their fineness and weight. Public Law 111-302 also permits the Mint to remove the edge lettering completely from America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.
The Act, in part, was meant to give the Mint more flexibly in manufacturing the silver coins to overcome production hurdles. However, by the time it became law the original issues were addressed by the use of a new Graebener press and the development of new minting techniques.
The original specifications and resulting manufacturing challenges handicapped the US Mint and pushed back the release of the 2010 issues to a date that was much later than planned. The Mint only launched the bullion versions on December 9. Additionally, it could only strike 33,000 for each of the five 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.
Like the companion America the Beautiful Quarters® which share the same designs, the 2010 silver bullion coins honor:
- Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)
- Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
- Yosemite National Park (California)
- Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
- Mount Hood National Forest (Oregon)
The US Mint has said it will offer collector uncirculated versions of the five-ounce silver coins in early 2011. The coin program to honor 56 national parks and national sites throughout the U.S. and its Territories is scheduled to last until 2021.