Today, April 25, 2011, the United States Mint began selling the first two 2011-dated 5 oz America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins to their established network of Authorized Purchasers (AP’s).
The Gettysburg National Military Park Silver Bullion Coin for Pennsylvania and the Glacier National Park Silver Bullion Coin for Montana are the first two available at this time. The US Mint only sells its bullion products to AP’s, who in turn sell them on to coin dealers, precious metal businesses, and sometimes directly to the public.
The silver bullion market has been on fire, per the recent annual sales of bullion American Silver Eagles. The Silver Eagle coins are much smaller than the America the Beautiful silver bullion coins, but they have been around much longer — since 1986. In the last three years, AP’s have been buying more and more of the Silver Eagles, due to increased demand. In 2008, they bought more than 19.5 million, and in 2009 it was more than 28.7 million. In 2010, they set a new record with more than 34.6 million Eagles.
2010 was the first year the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins were produced, but they had very a very limited mintage due to their unique specifications. The America the Beautiful silver coins have a three-inch diameter, contain five ounces of .999 fine silver, and sport an encused edge with ".999 FINE SILVER 5.0 OUNCE." Each reverse design features an emblematic scene of the site being honored, which is the same as the corresponding circulating America the Beautiful Quarter. The obverse of each coin bears the familiar George Washington portrait.
The US Mint only struck 33,000 of each of the 2010 America the Beautiful silver bullion coins and sold them in December. Naturally, demand was high and they sold out quickly. This year the US Mint is starting with 126,500 for each design and expects to be able to keep up with demand.
Later in the year the Mint will release the other 2011 silver bullion products, honoring Olympic National National Park in Washington, Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi and Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma.
For design details of the two new America the Beautiful coins, also look to the corresponding America the Beautiful Quarters® — the Gettysburg quarter and the Glacier quarter — as they share the same obverse and reverse designs.