The first 2012 issue of the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program from the United States Mint will be the 2012 El Yunque American the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin. These strikes also mark the eleventh piece to be released under the program which launched in 2010 and runs until 2021, at a rate of five coins per year.
All of the coins in the series are struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver. Making the strikes of the program even more unique is their massive three inch diameter.
These coins are issued as a sister series to the America the Beautiful Quarters Program which features circulation strikes of the quarter dollar with reverses honoring a site of national interest from each state, the District of Columbia and the five United States tributaries. The bullion pieces will contain the same basic imagery but their weight and fineness will be inscribed on the edge.
The obverse of the bullion and quarter dollar coins will have a portrait of the first President of the United States George Washington on them.
On the reverse of the El Yunque coins, a portion of the national forest will be featured. Design candidates for El Yunque should appear from the US Mint sometime in early 2011. At this time, they will be available for review by the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts who have been authorized to provide official critique on possible upcoming coins from the Mint.
Then, as dictated by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008, the Treasury Secretary will make the final selection after he (or she) receives the recommendation of the Mint Director, the CFA, the CCAC as well as comments from the chief executive of each host location and the Secretary of the Interior.
Up to five new strikes will appear each year from 2010 through 2021 as part of each of the America the Beautiful Quarters and Silver Bullion programs. On each coin will be a design that represents a selected National Park or National Site in 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.
The US Mint will not sell these bullion coins directly to the public, but instead offers them to a network of authorized purchasers who buy them in bulk. These purchasers then resell the coins in smaller lots or single units for an amount slightly above the market price of the silver contained in them to coin dealers and individuals.
El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico
The area of the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico is considered to be one of the oldest reserves in the Western Hemisphere. This is because King Alfonso XII of Spain ordered its protection in 1876.
As a result of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States by Spain in 1898 and the forest, of course, was part of the deal. In 1903, it was renamed the Luquillo Forest Reserve with a national forest designation coming in 1906. Then, in 1935 the name was changed to the Caribbean National Forest and it remained as that for over 70 years.
Finally, taking into account the historical and cultural feelings of the Puerto Rican people, President George W. Bush ordered the name changed once again to El Yunque National Forest in 2007.
The origins of the the name El Yunque are unclear, but the forest has been called by that designation for generations by the local people. The second highest mountain peak in the forest also goes by this name.
El Yunque has the distinction of being the only tropical rain forest in the national forest system of the United States.