America the Beautiful Silver Coin Diameters Could Change, but Will Not

January 17, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Yosemite America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin

The United States Mint will not be changing the diameter of the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins® from their current specification of three inches.

This is despite new authority granted to the US Mint via the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act (Public Law 111-302) signed into law just last month on December 14, 2010. Under a small portion of the new law, Congress has allowed the diameter of the five ounce .999 fine silver coins to be anywhere in the 2.5 to 3.0 inch range. Previously, the law specifically read that they must have a diameter of exactly three inches.

Those initial specifications proved problematic for the US Mint as it ramped up for production of the America the Beautiful Silver Coins. With precious little lead-time for the new series, the US Mint ordered, installed and tested a new multi-million dollar Graebener press purchased with these massive coins in mind. The initial testing was disappointing and resulted in “crumpling and cracking” effect, according to US Mint Director Ed Moy, when an edge inscription showing the coin’s weight and fineness was applied.

That inscription was also initially required by law. It has since become optional by another provision of the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act. Both modifications were in response to the Mint’s initial difficulties, but came to late to be of any help for the program whose inaugural year coins were required to be all produced within weeks following the signing of the law.

“Prior to the approval of the legislation, the United States Mint had spent substantial developmental effort to achieve product launch in 2010 based on the 3 inch size specifications. Additionally, we, as well as our suppliers,  have invested money in tooling based on the 3 inch size,” said Gordon Hume, Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the US Mint.

“To change the size at this time would only cause additional delays and require us to spend additional funds that would have to be recovered, ultimately from the public. For these reasons, and to promote consistency, current plans are to maintain the size of the coins struck for the 2010 product throughout the life of the program.”

This news of no change means a consistency for the foreseeable future for the America the Beautiful Silver Coins Program. It is a bit disheartening to know that if the initial size of the coins could have been adjusted earlier — if the law was passed when it was needed, then the US Mint may have had the time to strike more of the coins instead of spending time to overcome the issues. As it occurred, only 33,000 of each of the five 2010-dated silver bullion coins were struck which has resulted in intense demand and high prices for the series that has yet to still completely play out.

That demand will likely be shown once again when the US Mint starts selling the collector grade 2010 America the Beautiful Uncirculated Silver Coins later this year. It only produced 27,000 of each.

However, with a process in place to manufacture the coin’s under the original specifications, it is expected that the US Mint should be able to build a better inventory of both series of coins for this and subsequent years.


One Response to “America the Beautiful Silver Coin Diameters Could Change, but Will Not”
  1. John R says:

    Seems like the same article was posted a few weeks ago. Reason I remember is that it goes into good detail about the Diamater, but completely skips the question of if the edge lettering will be removed, as is allowed in the update.

    IMO, That is nearly as important as the size change.

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