For all the sprawling, populated urban and suburban areas of the United States, there are plenty of untouched stretches of wilderness that remind visitors of a simpler time in American history. America’s national parks and national forests are among the most protected and well-preserved natural sites in the world. The US Forest Service manages 154 protected areas, with the National Park Service managing an additional 59 protected areas, and some are featured on the brilliant America the Beautiful coin series from the United States Mint. Right now, JM Bullion has the latest stunning designs in the series on the 2016 ATB Silver Coins.
The America the Beautiful coin series from the United States Mint was inspired by a temporary alteration made to the nation’s circulation quarters in the late 20th century. In an effort to call attention to and celebrate the uniqueness of each US state, the Mint redesigned the reverse side of the nation’s 25-cent pieces to feature a different cultural or heritage site from each of the 50 states.
Known as the state quarters, these coins were produced from 1999 to 2008. They were so popular among Americans that the Mint followed it up with a District of Columbia and US Territories quarter series. Recognizing the demand for collectible coins honoring each state, Congress passed the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. This bill authorized the United States Mint to produce a series of collectible silver coins inspired by the state quarters, but altogether different in a number of important ways.
The ATB Silver Coin series from the United States Mint is easily recognizable as an entirely different program than the circulation coins that inspired its development. The major difference is the use of the different coins. While the state quarters program altered the design of America’s circulation 25-cent pieces, the ATB Silver Coin series is intended for investors and collectors looking to purchase pure silver products.
Each ATB Silver Coin contains .999 pure silver, while state quarters have a copper-nickel alloy that makes them more resilient in circulation. While both coins have a face value of $.25 (USD), the ATB Silver Coins have a total weight of 5 oz, are significantly larger than circulation quarters, and are not used for settling personal and private debts as they are worth much more than their legal-tender face value.
The main similarity between the coins is the obverse design. Like quarters, all 2016 ATB Silver Coins share a common obverse design that has been standard on American 25-cent pieces for over 80 years. The left-profile portrait of President George Washington is featured on this side, along with the engravings “United States of America,” “Liberty,” and “In God We Trust.” You will also find the face value of the coins, “Quarter Dollar,” engraved on this side, along with the mint mark in some cases.
The America the Beautiful Silver Coins is a 56-coin series that honors the national parks, national forests, and historical monuments from across the United States. ATB coins are released by the United States Mint on a five-coin schedule. The program debuted in 2010, and will feature five new coin designs representing a different location and jurisdiction each time. The ATB Silver Coins are scheduled for striking through 2021.
ATB Silver Coins represent each of the 50 states in the US, as well as the federal district of Washington DC, and the nation’s five overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. Under the guidelines of the ATB Silver Coin program, the Secretary of the Treasury has the power to extend the program through 2033.
America the Beautiful coins feature unique reverse designs representative of a different national park or national forest for each jurisdiction. The site selection process for the ATB Silver Coins was a collaborative effort that followed a five-step guide. The US Mint initiated the selection process through contact with the governor or chief executive of each jurisdiction, asking for four potential sites to represent the state/territory (one preferred, three ranked alternatives).
After the US Mint reviewed recommendations from all 56 jurisdictions, the Mint consulted the Secretary of the Interior for appropriateness of the chosen site based upon historical and natural significance. Assuming the Secretary of the Interior approved of the sites, the Mint moved forward with the creation of designs for the coins. In the following section, you’ll learn the details of each of the five, new 2016 ATB Silver Coins.
Established as a federally protected region on September 6, 1939, Shawnee National Forest covers 265,616 acres of land in southern Illinois. The land used to establish the Shawnee National Forest was acquired through Illini and Shawnee Purchase Units under the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the president’s Civilian Conservation Corps planted pine trees throughout the region to prevent erosion and rebuild the top soil as the region had been depleted by generations of farming.
From a potential seven designs created, the image chosen for the 2016 Shawnee National Forest ATB Silver Coin was one that depicts the area’s famous Camel Rock. A natural rock face that resembles a seated camel, with a visible head and hump figure, the image features the region’s pine trees in the foreground and a red-tailed hawk flying high overhead. Engravings include “Illinois,” “Shawnee,” and “E Pluribus Unum.”
A total of 105,000 coins with the Shawnee National Forest design were minted.
The Cumberland Gap was America’s first open passageway to the inland regions of the United States, and eventually the West Coast. Established as a protected historical park on June 11, 1940, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park covers a relatively small 20,508 acres, but holds a significant place in American history. Early Native American tribes used the Cumberland Gap as a fertile hunting ground as numerous migratory species moved through the region from north to south on an annual basis.
As America began to grow away from the East Coast following the Revolutionary War, settlers took advantage of this long break in the Appalachian Mountains to move into new lands in the interior of the continent. It is estimated that between the start of the revolution in 1775, and 1810, some 300,000 American settlers moved through the gap.
Out of a potential five designs offered for the Kentucky coin in the ATB Silver Coin series, the image of an early American settler gazing out into the Cumberland Gap is featured on the reverse of the 2016 Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Holding a long rifle in his hand, the settler gazes out at the Cumberland Gap, with an engraving in the background that reads “First Doorway to the West.” Other engravings include “Kentucky,” “Cumberland Gap,” and “E Pluribus Unum.”
The U.S. Mint produced 75,000 Cumberland Gap National Historical Park coins.
Few places can claim to have played a significant role in American history in the first century of the nation’s existence. Harpers Ferry, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in West Virginia, was at the heart of many important occurrences in American history from the Revolutionary War to the first shots of the Civil War. Robert Harper purchased the land on the peninsula from Virginia’s legislature in 1752, establishing a ferry business on the land.
Following the Revolutionary War, George Washington established a national armory on the site to use water power from the rivers for manufacturing. Most importantly in American history, John Brown led a group of abolitionists on a raid at Harpers Ferry in 1859 to capture arms stored there, hand them to slaves, and help overthrow slavery through force in the South.
Eight total designs were introduced for the 2016 Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and the final selection featured the building in which John Brown made his last stand against US Marines during his raid. An old firehouse, now known as John Brown’s Fort, is featured in the center of the design, with engravings of “West Virginia,” “Harpers Ferry,” and “E Pluribus Unum” featured on this side.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park coin saw a mintage of only 38,100.
North Dakota doesn’t often capture the imagination of the nation, but it did captivate the mind of the original Rough Rider, Theodore Roosevelt. The future President of the United States first visited North Dakota during a bison hunt in September 1883. From that original visit, he was in love with the rusted nature and wide-open spaces of North Dakota. What started as a $14,000 investment in a ranch near Medora, North Dakota, eventually grew to become a 70,446 acre national park.
President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the first major champions for the establishment of a national park system to protect America’s natural environments. The park honoring him in North Dakota consists of three separate units located along 75 miles of the Little Missouri River in North Dakota, stretching from the north of Bismarck, the state capital, to the banks of that same river near the capital.
There were six designs proposed for the 2016 Theodore Roosevelt National Park ATB Silver Coin, and the final selection features Roosevelt atop a horse as he surveys the rambling Little Missouri River in the valley below. The coin’s engravings on the reverse include “North Dakota,” “Theodore Roosevelt,” and “E Pluribus Unum.”
The Theodore Roosevelt National Park coin saw the small mintage of 2016 with only 40,000 coins produced.
Fort Moultrie is a part of the 171-year history of American East Coast sea defenses that guarded the fledgling nation from the early threats of the British Navy during the Revolutionary War, all the way through to the close of World War II. Fort Moultrie was the first major piece in the series, guarding the port city of Charleston, South Carolina.
Fort Moultrie was built of palmetto logs. Soft timber by nature, the palmetto logs enabled cannonballs to literally bounce off the sides of the fort during a 1776 attack by Admiral Sir Peter Parker and the British Navy. Two-hundred members of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment under William Moultrie garrisoned the fort, defending against the British attack. At a critical point in the battle, Moultrie’s own flag that flew above the fort was blown down, and was heroically retrieved and hoisted by Sergeant William Jasper during the heat of the conflict.
The design chosen for the 2016 Fort Moultrie at Fort Sumter National Monument depicts a brave Sergeant Jasper running through the field of battle to retrieve the Moultrie Flag, as smoke and cannon fire engulf Fort Moultrie behind him. Engravings include “South Carolina,” “Fort Moultrie,” and “E Pluribus Unum.”
A total of 27,900 coins with the Fort Moultrie design were minted.
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