September 26, 2023

New US Mint Silver Bullion Coin Series Starts Next Week

The release date, mintages, and premiums for  the United States Mint’s America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins were finally revealed this week. Precious metals investors and collectors were in for a few surprises.

As covered in a previous post, the coins will feature the same designs as the America the Beautiful circulating commemorative quarter dollars. This will result in five different issues per year from 2010 to 2020, and a single issue in 2021. The bullion coins will be struck in 5 troy ounces of .999 fine silver with the curious legal tender face value of 25 cents. Specifications include a diameter of 3 inches and thickness of 0.16 inch.

The release date for the new series will be December 6, 2010. This is the first date that the United States Mint’s authorized purchaser network can place orders for the new series. As with other bullion coins, the US Mint uses a small network authorized dealers to handle distribution. They purchase the coins in bulk quantities directly from the Mint and then resell them to other dealers and/or the public. Individuals are not able to buy the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins directly from the Mint, but must purchase them from a bullion dealer or other market source.

The US Mint will only be producing 33,000 units for each of the 2010 designs. This results in total production of 165,000 of the silver bullion coins. It had previously been reported that 500,000 would be struck, but for unspecified reasons this amount was reduced. In terms of bullion, 825,000 ounces (165,000 of the 5 ounce coins) is an incredibly small amount. In the last  month, the US Mint sold more than 4.2 million ounces of silver bullion.

Premiums charged to authorized purchasers for the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins will be $9.75 per coin. This is a very reasonable amount, but the premiums that are paid on the secondary market might be another matter. At the primary distribution level, the US Mint has warned authorized purchasers to set premiums at a level “competitive with those charged for other bullion coins.” I think the primary dealers will do their best to follow this mandate, but at subsequent levels of distribution, market forces will take precedence and drive prices higher.

In the first quarter of 2011, the US Mint will offer numismatic versions of the 5 ounce silver coins. These will be limited to only 27,000 units each. This will be another adventure waiting to happen. However, in this case the US Mint will sell the coins directly to the public at fixed prices, and will likely impose household limits to ensure broad distribution.

Details Awaited for America the Beautiful 5 oz. Silver Coins

Silver investors and coin collectors have been awaiting the final details of the United States Mint’s new silver bullion coins. Some preliminary information such as the design, specifications, and production levels have been revealed, but the premiums and exact release dates remain unknown.

The America the Beautiful Silver bullion coins will feature the designs of the new circulating commemorative quarter series struck in 5 ounces of .999 fine silver. Under Public Law 110-456, the coins will be produced with an unusually large diameter of 3.0 inches. By comparison, the Perth Mint’s 5 oz Lunar silver bullion coins have a diameter of about 2.58 inches. The larger diameter makes the US Mint’s coins more difficult to produce and potentially bendable by hand, due to the thickness of only 0.16 inches.

Following the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, a total of 56 different designs will be released between 2010 and 2021. The releases will feature a National Park or National Site from each of the 50 States, 5 U.S. Territories, and Washington, D.C. The order of release has been established based on the dates the areas were federally designated.

By law the US Mint may issue make the coins available for sale only during the calendar year that the corresponding quarter dollars are released. This means that the 2010 5 oz silver bullion coins featuring Hot Springs, Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, and Mount Hood must be issued available for sale before the close of the year.

Overall production is left to the discretion of the Treasury Secretary. This is in contrast to the American Silver Eagle, which must be struck based on public demand. For 2010, the US Mint has planned production of 500,000 of the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins, equally divided amongst the five designs.

The new silver bullion coins will be distributed through the US Mint’s authorized purchaser network, which currently distributes other bullion products. The premium that authorized purchasers will need to pay above the market value of the silver has not yet been announced. For the American Silver Eagle, the premium is currently $2.00 per coin. Premiums for American Gold Eagles range from 3% to 9% depending on the bullion weight.