Released as the third 2013 strike of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program will be the 2013 Great Basin America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin. It is also the eighteenth coin of out fifty-six new issues to be created in the eleven year program.
The three inch bullion coins will all be edge inscribed with the weight and fineness, which for this program is a hefty five ounces of .999 fine silver.
These coins were authorized as part of the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 which also mandated circulating quarters. Both the silver bullion as well as the quarter dollars will feature the same basic imagery.
On the obverse, a portrait of the first President of the United States, George Washington, will be seen. His image has been on the quarter dollar since 1932.
The reverse of this particular strike will showcase a portion of Great Basin National Park in Nevada. The final design for the Great Basin image should be unveiled in early 2013 with design candidates for the strike released the previous year for review. This review will be completed by the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts as well as the governor of Nevada and the Secretary of the Interior. All of these comments will then be added to those of the Director of the Mint and forwarded to the Treasury Secretary who will make the final selection.
In total, the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion program will consist of 56 new coins released at a rate of five per year. Each coin in the series honors one site of national interest from each state, the District of Columbia and the five territories of the United States. A ‘site of national interest’ could include a national park, national forest, national wilderness area, etc.
A network of authorized purchasers are the only ones allowed to buy the silver bullions coins from the Mint, and they must do so in bulk. This group then will resell the coins in smaller quantities to coin dealers and individuals at a small premium above the current spot price of the five ounces of silver they contain.
Two America the Beautiful bullion coins will precede the Great Basin strike in 2013 and honor White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio. Two coins will follow the Great Basin piece and honor Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland and Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.
Great Basin National Park in Nevada
In an area that most probably think of as a desert wasteland is a pristine and scenic park known as Great Basin National Park in Nevada.
The park derives its name from its location which is a dry and mountainous region between the Wasatch Mountains and the Sierra Nevada approximately 300 miles north of Las Vegas.
The 77,000 acre park was only established in 1986, but a portion of it has been part of the national park system since 1922. This portion was a group of caves known as the Lehman Caves which were protected as a national monument in 1922. They are known for their ornate decoration of stalactites, stalagmites and over 300 rare shield formations.
Elevation in the park ranges almost 8,000 feet from the valley floor to the top of Wheeler Peak. Accordingly, the temperature can also fluctuate significantly so visitors should be prepared for all eventualities, even snow in the summer (which can occur at on the peaks).
Aside from the caves and the mountains, Great Basin is also home to ancient groves of bristlecone pines, some dating as far back as 5,000 years. Many other species of flora and fauna also are indigenous to the terrain.
Of note, due to its distance from major metropolitan areas, the park is considered one of the darkest in terms of light pollution and provides a nighttime view of the stars above almost un-equaled in the rest of the nation.