The 2018 Block Island America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin will be the last strike of 2018 to appear as part of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program. The coin numbers forty-five out of fifty-six new coins that will appear for the program as a whole which launched in 2010 and runs through 2021.
Block Island National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island will be featured on the reverse (tails side) of this coin. The final design, however, will not be known for sometime – probably the first few months of 2018 at the earliest. If the Mint follows its normal procedures, however, design candidates should be made public in early 2017. This will allow sufficient time for the Mint to request comment from the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts as well as the governor of Rhode Island and the Interior Secretary. All of these groups and individuals are asked to provide input on the design for this coin before the Mint forwards its recommendation to the Treasury Secretary who makes the final decision.
These bullion coins were authorized by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 which also created a program of circulating quarter dollars. Both series are to appear at approximately the same time and have identical designs. As George Washington has been featured on the quarter dollars since 1932, his image will also be found on the obverse (heads side) of the bullion coins.
The complete America the Beautiful Silver BUllion Coin Program will have fifty-six new strikes created under it. Each strike honors a different site of national interest which could include national parks, national monuments, etc. To spread the selected sites across the nation, only one site was chosen from each state, the District of Columbia and the five territories of the United States (Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands).
An edge inscription will show each bullion coins weight and purity of five ounces and .999 fine silver respectively. The coins will be struck to a diameter of three inches making them the largest bullion coins produced by the Mint.
For distribution, the Mint uses a network of authorized purchasers instead of selling the coins directly to the public. This network buys the bullion in bulk and then resells it in smaller quantities to coin dealers and individuals for a small premium over the spot price of the silver contained within them.
Since the Block Island coin is the last of the America the Beautiful pieces to appear in 2018, it will be preceded by four coins which honor Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota and Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia.
Block Island National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island
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.
Those contemplating a visit, however, will want to plan ahead. The Island is located 12 miles off-shore and is only accessible via boat or ferry. The Block Island ferry leaves from Judith Point on Route 108 in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Reservations are not required, but are highly recommended, especially if you plan on taking a vehicle over with you.