The second 2012-dated release of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin™ series is the 2012 Chaco Culture America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin. A reverse design on the coin is emblematic of Chaco Culture National Historical Park located in the state of New Mexico.
That design was originally created for the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® Program and is also featured on a related series of America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins™. Both the quarters and the bullion coins were authorized by Congress as part of the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-456).
The Act originally dictated that the bullion coins be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver and have a diameter of three inches. The diameter requirement was later amended to allow for adjustment, if needed, but the US Mint opted to remain at the original specifications.
These uncirculated coins were created as the numismatic versions of the bullion coins. They are struck under the authority granted the Treasury Secretary to mint and sell items of numismatic interest and feature almost identical specifications to the bullion coins.
The only notable difference between the two series as far as appearance and specifications go is the inclusion of a mintmark on the uncirculated coins. A ‘P’ mintmark indicates each was struck at the US Mint’s facility in Philadelphia.
As each coin of the series contains designs first created for the circulating quarter dollars, the obverse of the coin showcases a portrait of the first President of the United States, George Washington. The portrait was originally created by John Flanagan for use on the 1932 circulating quarter and has been featured on the quarter dollars in one form or another ever since.
When first unveiled, the US Mint described the reverse design shown on the Chaco Culture Quarter (and by extension this uncirculated coin) with:
"The reverse of the second quarter of 2012 illustrates a view to the west of two elevated kivas that are part of the Chetro Ketl Complex. The design also shows the north wall of Chetro Ketl and the north wall of the canyon. Inscriptions are CHACO CULTURE, NEW MEXICO, 2012 and E PLURIBUS UNUM. The reverse was designed by AIP Master Designer Donna Weaver and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill."
Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico
Chaco Culture National Historical Park is located in the state of New Mexico and was created to help preserve some of the best ancient pueblo dwellings in the United States. The area was first protected by the federal government on March 11, 1907 when President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it Chaco Canyon National Monument.
The real history of Chaco began much earlier. Between 900 and 1150 AD, Chaco was the location of a large concentration of ancient Pueblo peoples. These inhabitants created a vast network of structures at the location making some of the largest buildings on the continent – a record that would hold until the 19th century.
For unknown reasons, the Chaco area was abandoned and left to waste by around the year 1150.