An Unexpectedly Tumultuous Beginning

February 15th, 2011  |  Published in Silver Coins

When the authorizing legislation for the America the Beautiful Quarters Program was signed into law, many collectors were undecided about the prospects for the over-sized silver bullion coin program that would run concurrently. The idea for 5 troy ounce silver coins with a diameter of 3 inches was something that had not been attempted by the United States Mint or other world mints. It turned out to be a production challenge.

The US Mint was required to purchase a new coining press to mint the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins. Once installed, they also have to test extensively until they could strike the wide diameter coins and apply the legislatively required edge lettering, without crumbling the edges. A source for the very specialized planchets also had to be arranged. All of the mentioned issues led to production delays.

When the coins finally entered production, it was anticipated that 100,000 of each design would be struck. This would make for a total of 500,000 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins. While far below the levels of the US Mint’s other bullion products, it was expected that this amount would satisfy most of the demand from precious metals investors and collectors.

Just a few weeks before the launch, the US Mint indicated that only 35,000 of each design would be struck for bullion coins, resulting in 175,000 coins overall. At a fraction of the originally anticipated mintage, strong demand and pricing ensued. This would eventually result in special rules imposed for the distribution of the coins, which made it somewhat complicated for the average collector to purchase them.

What lies ahead for this unusual series of silver bullion coins? Will the early excitement fade when mintages of subsequent issues are higher? Or will this solidify the mystique behind the low mintages of the first five issues?

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