The 2018 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins encompass the ninth year of strikes for a special series of coins from the US Mint created to celebrate the beauty of the United States. The Mint will release five coins in 2018 as part of the series and include:
Minnesota – 2018 Voyageurs National Park Silver Bullion Coin
All of the coins in this series as well as a companion circulating quarter dollar series were authorized by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. The act had several stipulations that applied to both programs and a few that were specifically aimed at these silver bullion pieces.
A requirement common to both series is the designs. In fact, the silver bullion coins are required to have identical obverses (heads side) and reverses (tails side) to those of the circulating quarters. Most know that George Washington, the first President of the United States, is on the obverse of the quarters (and has been since 1932). As such, his image will also be on the obverse of the silver bullion coins. John Flanagan designed the original 1932 portrait which ran virtually unchanged until 1999 when William Cousins modified it for the debut of the 50-State Quarter Program that year. This modified design will be used again for both America the Beautiful programs.
The reverses in the program are to emblematic of a national park or other site of national interest in the United States. Selected sites also included locations like national monuments, national memorials, national forests, etc. In total, 56 locations were chosen equating to 56 coins issued in the programs. Each of those 56 sites represent a single state, the District of Columbia or one of the five territories of the United States.
Final designs for the 2018 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins will probably only be unveiled in early 2018 by the Mint. Design candidates for the strikes, however, should be released in early 2017 so that they may be reviewed and commented on by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts. Their recommendations will be taken into consideration by the Treasury Secretary when the final decision is made.
As the silver bullion pieces are struck from a precious metal instead of the clad nickel/copper composition of the circulating quarters, an inscription must be added to each coin to show its content. As the obverse and reverse were required to be the same as the quarters, the only place left was the edge. Accordingly, an edge inscription will show the weight of five ounces and the fineness of .999 fine silver.
Of interest, these coins are the largest bullion pieces struck by the Mint at a diameter of three inches.
Some information on each of the selected 2018 sites is shown below:
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Stretching along 42 miles on the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore preserves some of the most scenic landscape found in the region. Aside from the colorful sandstone cliffs from which the refuge takes its name, visitors will also find waterfalls, natural archways, sand-dunes and abundant trees which draw many visitors themselves.
The sandstone cliffs known as Pictured Rocks stand anywhere from 50 to 200 feet above the level of Lake Superior. They get their intense colors from mineral seepage through the cliffs. Iron in the rock creates the reds and oranges, copper creates greens and blues , manganese creates the black coloring and lime results in white. The cliffs themselves stretch for 15 miles and start just East of Sand Point.
The Lakeshore offers visitors many chances to view the Pictured Rocks formations including the handicap accessible Miners Castle. Those interested in a little walking can take day-hikes on trails like the Chapel-Mosquito trail. Some of the best viewing opportunities may be provided by private boat cruises operating in the area.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Located on the northern tip of the Lake Superior shoreline of Wisconsin, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore includes not only 12 miles of mainland, but also 21 islands (which the name suggests). The preserved area also claims several historic lighthouses, some old growth forest areas, and sandstone sea caves.
While no one knows for certain, the Apostle Islands were probably given their name by early Jesuits who drew up the maps of the region in the early 18th century. Since then, visitors to the area have come to love the scenery and the diversity that it has to offer.
Those interested in visiting the islands have several choices. First, bringing your own private boat is always an option as well as kayaking, canoeing or paddle boating. Water taxis may be utilized out of Bayfield and private cruise operations can take guests on sight-seeing trips as well as ferrying them from island to island.
Voyageurs National Park
Atypical for national parks in the United States, Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota requires more of a unique visitor experience. That is because the park contains significant portions of water and includes over 500 islands, 655 miles of shoreline, four major lakes and twenty-six interior lakes for a total of 84,000 acres of water.
With that in mind, the only way to really experience the water-based national park during the spring, summer and fall months is via boat. Private boats may be launched at several ramps within the park and offer opportunities for visitors to reach the remote regions of the park.
Over 200 campsites are maintained within the park’s boundaries but each is only accessible via boat. Those wanting to visit the area but camp at a more typical campground will want to check out the two state operated campgrounds adjacent to the national park.
Cumberland Island National Seashore
Established by Congress in 1972 and administered by the National Park Service, Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia is located on that state’s largest and southernmost barrier island. The Seashore protects a diverse landscape which includes marshes, maritime forests and undeveloped beaches.
First inhabited by Native Americans, European settlers were quick to realize the beauty and potential of Cumberland Island. By the time of the American Revolutionary War, cotton plantations were already cropping up on the island with famed inventor Eli Whitney even taking part. His invention the cotton gin revolutionized the industry by removing most of the labor involved with separating the cotton fibers from the seeds.
Those visiting Cumberland Island will be impressed by the area’s temperate climate year-round. Average temperatures in the summer hover in the 80’s while the winter months only drop down to the 60’s. Humidity, however is another factor. Morning humidity is routinely in the 90% range with a drop only to the 60% range by mid-afternoon.
Block Island National Wildlife Refuge
Consisting of only 127 acres, Block Island National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island was established in 1973 when the Coast Guard transferred a much smaller 28 acres for the refuge’s creation. Through the years, the remaining 99 acres was added to the facility to bring it to the size it is today.
Still, one would not normally consider 127 acres to be sufficient to be included as a national wildlife refuge. However, this small size is manageable for two reasons. First, it is overseen by the larger Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex which controls five different refuge areas in the state of Rhode Island. Second, Block Island National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by private land owners who also value the benefits of natural resources and protect the land accordingly.
Consequently, Block Island serves as an excellent habitat for wildlife and those people interested in seeing them. Bird-lovers are especially fond of the area since 70 different species of migratory songbirds visit the area each fall. Also located on the island is the state’s largest colony of gulls as well as several different species of state concern.