America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins a Production Challenge, Says US Mint Director

February 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

US Mint Directory Ed MoyWith only a few months before the anticipated release of the first America the Beautiful Quarter honoring Hot Springs National Park, the United States Mint appears to be struggling with production issues regarding the companion silver bullion series.

Dictated by the same law that authorized the quarters, the US Mint is required to produce five-ounce silver strikes in a three inch diameter for, which they have dubbed, the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin Program. These coins will feature the same design as the 25-cent pieces with the exception of the bullion coins’ weight and fineness being incused on the plain edge (quarter edges will be reeded).

At a coin forum held the night before the recent official launch ceremony of the new Lincoln Union Shield Cent in Springfield, Illinois, Mint Director Edmund C. Moy admitted to the difficulties in complying with the terms of the legislation.

"…the law was very specific," Mint Director Moy stated. "They said it had to be a certain diameter and it had to be 5 ounces. Well, there isn’t a 5 ounce blank out there, so we had to get this custom made. Then, because it was 3 inches in diameter, well we’ve got a 5 ounce piece of silver and we stretch it out to a 3 inch diameter, it’s paper thin."

Moy continued to explain additional issues in incusing the edge lettering on the .999 fine silver coins by commenting that the first tests resulted in "crumples" on the strike.

Attempts by the Mint to get congress to modify their requirements were unsuccessful, forcing them to investigate further means of fulfilling the law while still creating a useable piece.

"We’ve made some breakthroughs in it," Moy explained. "Where the edge lettering is not as deep or noticeable. But it now doesn’t mess up the rest of the coin."

It should be noted that the Mint has never before produced a three-inch five-ounce silver coin. In fact, just last year the Mint had to purchase a new coining press and edge-lettering tooling for the sole purpose of creating these unique silver coins.

Collectors may also be interested to know that Moy closed out his comments on the matter with information that current plans call for the coins only to be produced in bullion version and released through the Mint’s authorized purchasers. However, once the "kinks" are worked out on their production, the Mint may consider making a numismatic (collectors) version.

For more information on the new quarter-dollar series, visit sister site America the Beautiful Quarters.

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