The 2015 Blue Ridge America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin will be released by the United States Mint as the third of five 2015-dated strikes of the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin™ series. Shown on the reverse of the coin will be a design emblematic of Blue Ridge Parkway located in the state of North Carolina.
This coin is struck as the numismatic version of the Blue Ridge Parkway Silver Bullion Coin released by the US Mint as part of its America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins™ series. Like the bullion coin, the Blue Ridge Silver Uncirculated Coin is struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver and features a diameter of three inches.
These specifications were required of the bullion coins by Congress as part of the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 which became Public Law 110-456. Since the uncirculated series is struck as the numismatic versions of the bullion coins, they also feature the same specifications.
They were not, however, directly authorized by Congress. Instead, the US Mint is striking them under the authority granted the Secretary of the Treasury to "prepare and distribute numismatic items" in 31 U.S.C. §5111(a) (3).
As such, the method of distribution between the two series is different. The bullion coins are obtained in large lots by a network of authorized purchasers from the US Mint. This network then resells the coins in smaller quantities to the public for a small premium above the current spot price of the five ounces of silver in each coin.
In contrast, these silver uncirculated coins are sold directly to the public by the US Mint. As numismatic products, they also carry a large premium which is typically much higher than any melt value associated with them.
Designs for both series is based on a third US Mint series – the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. Thus, the obverse of each America the Beautiful coin contains the same portrait of George Washington, by John Flanagan, seen on circulating quarters since 1932 (with minor variations).
The reverse design contains the design emblematic of the selected site of national interest, in this case Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina. Designs for all five 2015 America the Beautiful coins should be unveiled by the US Mint in late 2014.
Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
Blue Ridge Parkway is located along the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It was officially established by an Act of Congress on June 30, 1936.
The parkway runs for 469 miles. Its southern end is defined as the location between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation. From there it runs north to Shenandoah National Park of Virginia.
Despite being established in 1936, final construction of the parkway was only completed almost fifty years later. The last stretch around Grandfather Mountain was only finished in 1983.
The National Park Service describes the Blue Ridge Parkway with:
"Experiencing ‘America’s Favorite Drive’"
"A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other, a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. Protecting a diversity of plants and animals, the Parkway meanders for 469 miles, providing opportunities for enjoying all that makes this region of the country so special."