America The Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins: Year 1 (2010)

Posted on November 11, 2021

What is the America The Beautiful (ATB) Series?

In 2008, Congress passed America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act. This piece of legislation required a series of quarters and bullion coins to have designs on the coin’s reverse side, with one design for each U.S. state and territory, 56 in all. There are two types of U.S. coins created under the bill – the America the Beautiful quarters and 5 oz silver bullion coins. The first, launched in 2008, is the regular everyday quarter you’d use in a vending machine to get a soda. The second, the 5 oz silver bullion coins, are the size of a drink coaster you’d put your soda on and were launched in 2010. Oddly, given the incredible difference in size, their face values are identical. The images depicted on these quarters and bullion coins showcase a national park or historical site located in the state or territory, highlighting United States history, natural beauty, and culture. However, none of the images on the circulation quarters are the same as the bullion coins. The bullion coins, of which there are 56 different designs, had a planned release over 11 years, beginning in 2010. However, the first year of production was tumultuous – a large enough stamping press had to be procured, and many other hurdles led to a delayed launch. However, the U.S. Mint was still successful, producing five highly sought-after 5 oz America the Beautiful bullion coins in its first year of production.

Choosing subjects for the series

During the selection process, which involved the chief executives of each host jurisdiction, a set of standards had to be met for a site to be eligible. There were also several exclusions, such as anything bearing a commercial or organizational logo, as well as any portrait of a living person.

Designs and production

5 oz silver america the beautiful coin obverseThe obverse or front of the America the Beautiful (ATB) coin series bears the same image of George Washington seen on the standard quarter since 1932, designed and sculpted by John Flanagan. On the reverse side, there is an image unique to each state or territory, with several recurring themes. In most ATB coins, America’s natural beauty is celebrated.  Mountains, trees, and plant life are noted in quite a few of the coins. Others celebrate the beauty of American history with historically significant sites, or scenes featuring historical events. The ATB silver bullion coin has a diameter over three times that of a standard quarter dollar and is made of 5 ounces of .999 fine silver bullion from Sunshine Minting. Struck at the Philadelphia Mint, these coins have a “P” mintmark to denote production at the Philadelphia Mint.

2010: The First Five 5 oz America the Beautiful Silver Coins

2010 was an interesting year for the U.S. economy. The country was still in the aftermath of the financial crisis just two years earlier, and many of its citizens had a lingering distrust of big banks and financial institutions. This was also the first year that the America the Beautiful bullion coins were released. In total, five new coins, the firsts in the 56-coin series, were released in 2010. Year number one of the initiative featured the release of five U.S. states: Arkansas, Wyoming, California, Arizona, and Oregon.

Hot Spring National Park - Arkansas

Released on April 19th, 2010, Arkansas’ coin, which was the first available coin in the ATB series, pays homage to Hot Springs National Park, which most agree is the top natural attraction in the state. Located in Garland County, Hot Springs National Park was initially created as a reservation by congress in 1832, well before the formalization of the National Park Service in 1916. The geothermally-heated waters were thought to offer health benefits to bathers, and dozens of bathing houses attracted visitors from across the nation to “take the waters” of Hot Springs. On the reverse side of the Arkansas ATB coin is the headquarters building of Hot Springs park, with a thermal fountain standing in front of it; the coin also includes the National Park Service emblem. The image on Arkansas’ ATB coin was created by Don Everhart and sculpted by Joseph Menna. In total, 33,000 Arkansas ATB bullion coins were minted.

Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming

ATB release number two took place on June 1st, 2010, with another 33,000 bullion coins minted for the state of Wyoming. The Wyoming coin is dedicated to Yellowstone National Park, which many consider the first national park (officially established in 1872 after being signed into law by Ulysses Grant) and among the finest parks the nation has to offer. The design shows the iconic geyser Old Faithful erupting, two bison (one in the forefront and another to the right of the geyser), and an indistinct mountain in the distance. Don Everhart, who works for the Philadelphia Mint, was both the designer and sculptor for the Wyoming ATB coins.

Yosemite National Park - California

Another famed national park on the West Coast is the muse for the third release in the ATB series — the state of California. Yosemite National Park is a California gem and home to El Capitan, an enormous granite rock formation over 3,000 feet tall. Famed photographer Ansel Adams captured a majestic portrait of the park from the so-called Tunnel View framing the valley between the stark granite faces of El Capitan and Half Dome which is probably the single most-recognized landscape in American history. Designed by Joseph Menna (who, in 2019, was appointed Chief Engraver of the U.S. Mint)  and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, the Yellowstone bullion coin also features well over a dozen trees, of which the abundant evergreen is easily recognized. 33,000 California ATB coins were produced, with a release date of July 26th, 2010.

Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona

Another state known for its spectacular national park is Arizona. Therefore, it should be no surprise that Grand Canyon National Park appears on Arizona’s ATB coin, the fourth in the 56-coin series. The Grand Canyon is sometimes called “the world’s biggest hole.” A mile deep, 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, the canyon meanders through a national park larger than the state of Rhode Island. One’s first view of the Grand Canyon is not only breathtaking, it’s unforgettable. 33,000 Grand Canyon silver bullion coins were struck with a release date of September 20th, 2010. Arizona’s coin features a beautiful image of the park’s Marble Canyon, with the rock walls rising above the river. Designer and sculptor Phebe Hemphill does an excellent job depicting the depth and magnitude of the Grand Canyon in this unique piece.

Mount Hood National Forest - Oregon

The fifth and final release of the first year of ATB silver bullion coins took place on November 15th, 2010.  Featured on the coin is Oregon and Mount Hood National Forest, located just over 60 miles east of Portland, the state’s largest city. Encompassing over 1 million acres, Mount Hood National Forest attracts millions of visitors every year. The old-growth douglas fir trees of the forest are some of the largest trees most visitors have ever seen. On the Oregon coin, designer and sculptor Phebe Hemphill has recreated the most iconic view in the park: Lost Lake, with Mount Hood and its tree-lined base behind it. For decades, Lost Lake has been a popular tourist destination and camping site. In total, 33,000 Mount Hood National Forest coins were struck.

Reception and values

There was certainly some excitement around the selection process of the ATB series, and there were even release parties at the sites chosen to be featured on the coins. And by all accounts, the first year of the ATB series was a huge success. With a production of only 33,000 silver bullion coins in its first five releases, the U.S. Mint had significantly more demand than it could keep up with. The first five coins released in 2010 completely sold out, paving the way for even more production in the years to come. For more details about each 5-oz bullion coin, check out the Silver America the Beautiful page on BullionMax.