The first 2011-dated release in a series of five ounce .999 fine silver collector grade coins from the US Mint is the 2011 Gettysburg America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin. This strike contains a reverse design emblematic of Gettysburg National Military Park found in the state of Pennsylvania.
Sales of the Gettysburg Silver Uncirculated Coin began on Thursday, September 22, 2011 when the United States Mint released them for sale to the public. The strikes feature a maximum mintge of 35,000. At release, each coin sold for $279.95.
The inaugural strikes of the series included five 2010-dated coins honoring Hot Springs National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Mount Hood National Forest. However, even though the coins were dated 2010, the US Mint did not actually schedule a release for them until the first quarter of 2011. That is because the Mint had relatively little time to prepare for this series as well as production issues associated with them.
This series is actually considered the collector grade versions of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program, which were authorized and struck for collectors. The bullion coins are actually extremely similar to these uncirculated strikes, with two main difference. First, the coins are struck to uncirculated quality which typically results in a much higher level of detail than will be found on the bullion coins. Second, a mintmark is present on the uncirculated coins indicating they were produced at the US Mint’s facility in Philadelphia. The bullion coins contain no mintmark.
Both silver series contain obverse and reverse designs similar to the Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® Program releases. Accordingly, a portrait of George Washington, the first President of the United States, is featured on the obverse. The design was originally completed by John Flanagan for the 1932 circulating quarter and has graced that coin ever since.
Reverse designs in the program are reserved for images emblematic of selected sites of national interest from around the United States. A total of fifty-six coins will be minted in the series with one coin representing a site from each state, the District of Columbia and the five US territories. The program is scheduled to run until 2021.
As this specific strike honors Gettysburg National Military Park, the reverse image contains a depiction of the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry Monument found on the grounds of the park. Shown in front of the monument is a cannon. The design was completed by United States Mint Artistic Infusion Program (AIP) Master Designer Joel Iskowitz and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Phebe Hemphill.
When released, these uncirculated coins will be available for purchase directly from the US Mint. This is in contrast to the sister bullion series which are sold through the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers.
Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania
Gettysburg National Military Park is found in the state of Pennsylvania. It was established by an Act of Congress on February 11, 1895 that was signed by President Grover Cleveland. The Act directed the War Department to create the Military Park. To facilitate the creation, an initial 800 acres, which included over 300 monuments, were deeded to the new park from the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association.
The National Park Service assumed control of the park in 1933, and still operates the faculties found there today. A part of those facilities is the “Gettysburg Cyclorama” which is a 360° oil on canvas painting that measures an amazing 359 feet long by 27 feet high. Depicted on the painting is “Pickett’s Charge,” an important component of the battle for which the park was created.
That battle is known as the Battle of Gettysburg and was fought between the forces of the United States of America and the Confederate States of America on July 1-3, 1863. There are two important reasons for this specific battle to be remembered. First, it had the largest number of casualties of any battle during the American Civil War. Second, the defeat of Confederate forces at the battle is seen as the turning point of the war which would eventually be won by the Union forces.
Also of note, President Abraham Lincoln gave his famous "Gettysburg Address" at this location four months after the battle to dedicate the Soldier’s National Cemetery located there. The short two minute speech began:
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."