Appearing as the second release in 2012 of the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program will be the 2012 Chaco Culture America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin. This piece is the twelfth strike out of 56 new issues created as part of the program which launched in 2010 and runs until 2021.
Each bullion coin produced in the series will be struck to a diameter of three inches from five ounces of .999 fine silver. The weight and fineness of each piece will be edge inscribed.
This series is considered a companion to the America the Beautiful Quarters program and will feature the same basic imagery as the Mint is putting on the circulation quarter dollars. As such, George Washington, the first President of the United States will be seen on the obverse of each strike.
The reverse of this piece will feature an artist’s rendition of a portion of Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. Final designs should be released to the public in early 2012 before the first coin in the series is released that year.
Previous to that, however, design candidates will be unveiled by the Mint for review by the appropriate individuals and organizations including the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts. This should occur sometime in early 2011.
All comments will be taken into consideration by the Treasury Secretary who has the final decision according to the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 which authorized the series.
Through the additional terms of that act, up to five new strikes will appear each year from 2010 through 2021. Each coin will feature a design honoring a site of national interest such as national park or national forest, with one site chosen from each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories — Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Those interested in buying one of these silver bullion coins will have to look elsewhere than the US Mint. As is the Mint policy, bullion pieces are sold in large quantities to a network of authorized purchasers. This group then resells them to individuals, coin dealers, etc. for a slight mark-up over the spot price of the silver they contain.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico
Conserving the best concentration of pueblos in the United States, Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico was established to protect a cultural district created over a millennia ago by ancient Pueblo Native Americans.
Located within the park are some of the largest buildings ever created in the western hemisphere before the 1800’s. To support this vast development, the ancient Pueblos even constructed roads, dams and irrigation systems. Modern-day scholars are unsure of the main purpose of the buildings with some believing they served as dwellings. Others think they were used as public places for trade.
Many factors are thought to have played a part in the demise of the civilization once located in the area. A series of droughts over several generations almost certainly had an impact along with declining resources in the area. (The timber used in construction of the buildings had the be brought in from the Chuska Mountains and the San Mateo Mountains, both over 60 miles away!)
Although known about for decades, it was not until the late 1800’s that the region began to gain in historical prominence. In 1896, the American Museum of Natural History sent the Hyde Exploring Expedition to gather more details and their findings was instrumental in the creation of Chaco Canyon National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907. In 1980, the protected area was expanded and renamed the Chaco Culture National Historical Park.