Shawnee National Forest makes another appearance on a United States Mint product with today’s release of a 3-inch, 5-ounce silver coin depicting a design emblematic of the site in Illinois. This newest release is the 31st overall in the U.S. Mint’s collector series of America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins. It is the first of five for 2016.
Located in the Ozark and Shawnee Hills of Southern Illinois, Shawnee National Forest preserves about 280,000 acres of federally managed lands. In its early years, many of those acres included exhausted farmlands. President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated the lands as an official national forest in 1939, with a number of conservation and reforestation projects since then responsible for restoring the land to its current state.
Shawnee Silver Uncirculated Coin Design
Designs on this collector coin from the Philadelphia Mint match those of the smaller Shawnee quarter, which launched into circulation earlier this month with large quantities of them now available in U.S. Mint-branded rolls and bags.
Designed by Justin Kunz and sculpted by Jim Licaretz, the reverse depicts a close view of Camel Rock with natural vegetation in the foreground and a red-tailed hawk soaring in the sky overhead. The other side, like every America the Beautiful Quarter and companion silver 5-ounce coin, shows John Flanagan’s effigy of George Washington.
Edges of the 3-inch silver coins are unique. Instead of the reeded treatment found on quarters, they are flat and incused with ".999 FINE SILVER 5.0 OUNCE."
Price and Premiums
Pricing for the new coin is $149.95. With its 99.9% pure silver composition and at $15.16 an ounce, it has a melt value of $75.80, bringing its U.S. Mint premium per ounce to $14.83. That is low when compared against other collector silver coins from the Mint, but toward the upper end for recent 5-ounce issues.
Last year’s 2015-dated coins opened with per ounce premiums of $16.06; $14.38; $14.38; $13.67; and $13.80 while the 2014-dated coins came in at $15.71; $12.35; $11.60; $11.33; and $11.18.
Ordering and Mintages
2016-P Shawnee National Forest Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins are available from the U.S. Mint via this online product page or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).
Mintages ramped higher this year. Last year, maximum sales per design for the bigger coins were established at a combined 65,000. In 2016, the number is set at 150,000 coins with 30,000 for this uncirculated release and the remaining for the companion bullion version. The U.S. Mint reserves the right to tweak the mintages based on demand levels.
The Philadelphia Mint also produces 5-ounce bullion versions for investors. The 2016 Shawnee Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coin went on sale Feb. 1, and 41,800 were claimed by the end of the day.
Its sales as of Wednesday, Feb. 24, stand at 102,500 coins, the most since the release in 2011 commemorating Olympic National Park in Washington.
Both bullion and uncirculated coins share designs and specifications. In key differences, bullion coins:
- have a brilliant instead of matte finish,
- lack the Philadelphia Mint’s "P" mint mark, and
- do not ship in special U.S. Mint packaging.
The U.S. Mint reserves the selling of 5-ounce bullion coins to authorized distributors who buy them in bulk at $9.75 per coin plus silver spot. They are normally available from precious metals and coin dealers for a few dollars per ounce over their melt value.