The 2012 El Yunque America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin is the first 2012-dated release in the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin™ series. Shown on the reverse of the strike is a design emblematic of El Yunque National Forest located in the US territory of Puerto Rico.
Coins of this series are struck by the US Mint as numismatic versions of its America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program. In fact, both this uncirculated series and the associated bullion coins feature almost identical specifications along with their imagery.
Those specifications include being struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver. They also feature the extremely large diameter of three inches. Both of those requirements were originally specified by Congress when it authorized the bullion coins (although subsequent legislation allows for a change to the diameter if needed).
The only concrete way to discern between coins of the bullion and this uncirculated series is to look for the mintmark. The uncirculated strikes contain a ‘P’ mintmark indicating they were struck at the US Mint’s facility in Philadelphia. The bullion coins were also minted in Philadelphia but contain no mintmark.
When initially released, the two series of coins also make their way into the public’s hands in different ways. Bullion coins are sold through a network of authorized purchasers for a small premium above the current spot price of the five ounces of silver in each coin. The uncirculated coins are sold directly to the public by the US Mint.
Designs for both the bullion and uncirculated America the Beautiful coins are actually originally designed for the Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. As such, the obverse of each coin contains a portrait of George Washington by John Flanagan.
The US Mint describes the reverse of the El Yunque Quarter (and thus this five ounce coin) with:
"The reverse of the first quarter of 2012 depicts a Coqui tree frog sitting on a leaf and a Puerto Rican parrot behind an epiphyte plant with tropical flora in the background. Inscriptions are EL YUNQUE, PUERTO RICO, 2012 and E PLURIBUS UNUM. The reverse was designed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer Gary Whitley and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso."
El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico
El Yunque National Forest is located in the United States territory of Puerto Rico. The forest took on its current name of El Yunque through a Presidential Order signed on April 2, 2007 by President George W. Bush.
Before that, the location was known as the Caribbean National Forest since June 4, 1935 when the national forest was established. It had been Luquillo Forest Reserve before that since January 17, 1903 but its official protective history dates back even further.
In 1876, the area was set aside as a reserve by King Alfonso XII of Spain when the island was under the control of that country. This makes it one of the oldest reserve areas in the western hemisphere.
Today, the national forest consists of 28,002 acres which receives over 200 inches of rain a year in places. The rain helps to create a tropical rain forest, the only one of which is a part of the national forest system.