This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
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Call it a holiday present from the U.S. Mint.
The long-awaited 3-inch, 5-ounce America the Beautiful 2010 silver bullion coins were released Dec. 6 by the U.S. Mint.
Numismatic versions of the five coins will be available in the first quarter of 2011.
The large bullion coins carry the quarter dollar denomination and are struck in .999 fine silver. They are the first coins of their type struck by the U.S. Mint.
The coins will be available through an established network of Authorized Purchasers that will in turn make them available on the secondary market. To find a bullion retailer, visit www.usmint.gov/bullionretailer or call 1-800-USA-GOLD (872-4653).
The cost of the coins will be determined by the current market price of silver, which has recently hovered around $27 an ounce, plus a premium of $9.75 per coin set by the Mint to cover minting, distribution and marketing costs.
The maximum first year mintage for the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins is 165,000 units—33,000 units for each of the five coins issued in 2010 in honor of Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas), Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming), Yosemite National Park (California), Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) and Mount Hood National Forest (Oregon). Maximum mintage levels for the 2011 and future bullion coins have not yet been determined.
A numismatic version of the 3-inch, 5-ounce silver coins, also minted in .999 silver, will be available for purchase directly from the United States Mint during the first quarter of 2011.
The maximum mintage for these collector versions is set at 135,000 units—27,000 units for each of the five 2010 coins. The United States Mint will strike all 2010-dated numismatic coins by the end of the year, as required by law.
Both the bullion and numismatic versions of these coins are legal tender and bear designs that are exact duplicates of those featured on coins released through the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. The fineness and weight are incused on the coins’ edges. The bullion version, like its American Eagle bullion coin counterparts, will bear no mintmark. The numismatic version will bear the “P” mintmark of the United States Mint at Philadelphia.