In its eleventh complete year, the US Mint continues its silver bullion series dedicated to the beauty of the United States with the 2020 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins. The Mint will release five coins in 2020 as part of the program which are:
American Samoa – 2020 National Park of American Samoa Silver Bullion Coin
U.S. Virgin Islands – 2020 Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve Silver Bullion Coin
The entire program consists of fifty-six coins with the first lot of five appearing in 2010 and the last coin due out in 2021. Fifty-six is significant because it represents one coin showcasing a site from within each state, the District of Columbia and the five territories of the United States (American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands and the US Virgin Islands).
Selected sites in the program are required to be of national interest according to the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 which authorized the coins. These sites include locations such as national parks, national forests, national monuments, etc.
The chosen sites will be featured on the reverses (tails side) of the coins with an artistic representation of a portion of the site shown. Unfortunately, the final look for the designs will probably not be unveiled until early in 2020 shortly before the first coin is released that year. However, the Mint should release design candidates for the strikes the previous year so that they may be reviewed and commented on.
The obverse (heads side) will show a portrait of the first President of the United States, George Washington. His inclusion on the bullion coins is because each of these bullion coins is required to have identical obverse and reverse designs to those found on the America the Beautiful Quarter Dollars issued at approximately the same time. As most know, Washington has been on the quarter dollar for many years – since 1932 in fact.
To signify the bullion coins content, an edge inscription will show its weight and fineness. This is important because each of these coins will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver. Also, each coin will have a diameter of three inches making them the largest bullion pieces produced by the Mint.
Site specific information for the 2020 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins is provided below:
National Park of American Samoa
The National Park of American Samoa in American Samoa was established in 1988 by an Act of Congress with several goals in mind. In fact, the authorizing act even stated some of them:
“ . . to preserve and protect the tropical forest and archeological and cultural resources of American Samoa, and of associated reefs, to maintain the habitat of flying foxes, preserve the ecological balance of the Samoan tropical forest, and, consistent with the preservation of these resources, to provide for the enjoyment of the unique resources of the Samoan tropical forest by visitors from around the world.”
With all of that in mind, the Park Service started about the task of creating a park. Unfortunately, the park was off to a slow start because the communal property system in place on American Samoa prevented the government from buying any land for the park. The situation was resolved in 1993, however, when the federal government was able to reach agreements with the Samoan government and several Samoan village councils to lease some desired locations for fifty years.
Weir Farm National Historic Site
The Weir Farm National Historic Site located in Connecticut is the only national park site to be dedicated to American painting. As you can imagine, then, the park not only preserves the structures associated with the farm but informs visitors of the artistry involved in the work of J. Alden Weir, the former owner of the farm.
J. Alden Weir was an American Impressionist painter who was born in 1852 and lived until 1919. Weir was the son of a painter, who received his initial training at the National Academy of Design before studying abroad. While in France he first encountered a method of painting known as impressionism.
Weir’s distaste for the art form did not last long, however and he soon accepted it as his own. He quickly became known as one of the most talented artists of his time and desired a retreat from the hustle and critique of the big city. Accordingly, he created a retreat for himself and fellow artists at his farm located in rural Connecticut. It is this location that the Park Service maintains today after having been established in 1990.
Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve
The Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve located in the U.S. Virgin Islands preserves not only some of the best natural resources found in the region, but also some of the most historical locations of the islands.
For instance, the park hosts the only known location where members of the Columbus expedition ever set foot on land now a part of a United States territory. In fact, his visit to the island of St. Croix also marked the first violence between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the New World ever recorded.
The islands have been under the control of several foreign nations throughout their history including France, Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Knights of Malta, Denmark and finally the United States. All of these countries seemed to have left some mark on the islands from fortifications to the only known example of a ball court in the Caribbean still visible today.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park
Located in Vermont, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park may be named after the previous owners but it was their love of nature that truly led to the creation of the park.
George Perkins Marsh was an accomplished lawyer, diplomat and writer who also happened to be considered one of America’s first environmentalists. His book Man and Nature was mostly ignored during his life, but his thesis stating man had abused the land and must restore it would prove as his guideline for the remaining years on the estate where he grew up.
Frederick Billings was also a lawyer and President of the Northern Pacific Railway who purchased the Marsh estate after George passed away. Frederick would prove to be a devoted follower of the Marsh theory and purchased many of the surrounding farms with a goal to reforest them. He also created a state-of-the-art dairy farm in the area which is still in operation today along with a museum devoted to Billings.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Consisting of only 10,894 acres, the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve of Kansas recalls the not-so-distant past where tall grasses once covered 140 million acres of North America. But, due to the rush to homestead, farm and ranch in the last two centuries, a majority of those grasses were plowed under.
Today, only an estimated 4% of the original acreage remains of the grass. Wanting to preserve a portion of that, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve was created in 1996. Different from most national park lands, however, the park service is only allowed to own up to 180 acres of the preserve. The rest is under the ownership of the Nature Conservancy with both organizations cooperating in the management.
Visitors to the preserve will be quick to notice that it is still a developing park. New programs are being initiated almost annually as they are deemed appropriate and non-detrimental to the region. An example of this is a planned bison herd to be re-introduced to the area. Bison once roamed the continent grazing on these tall grasses and their return would mark a significant step towards the return to what once was.