The 2014 Great Sand Dunes America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin is the fourth of five 2014-dated releases to appear as part of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin™ series. Shown on the reverse of the coin will be a design emblematic of Great Sand Dunes National Park located in the state of Colorado.
Each Great Sand Dunes Silver Uncirculated Coin will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver and will have a diameter of three inches. These are the same specifications used by the US Mint for the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins™.
This is no coincidence as the US Mint created these silver uncirculated coins as the numismatic versions of the bullion coins. Authorization to do so was given the Secretary of the Treasury in 31 U.S.C. §5111(a) (3) to “prepare and distribute numismatic items.”
Along with the same specifications, the uncirculated coins will also showcase the same basic designs as the bullion coins. These designs are actually originally created for a third US Mint series – the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. Congress created the quarter series as well as the bullion series and dictated their designs with the passage of the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 which became Public Law 110-456.
According to the terms of the act, a total of fifty-six new coins will be created in each series with reverse designs emblematic of different sites of national interest from around the United States, the District of Columbia and the five US territories. One site is to be chosen from each state, D.C. and the territories with their release order dictated by the order in which the selected sites came under the direct control of the federal government.
As the designs on the silver uncirculated coins and their bullion counterparts are nearly identical along with their specifications, there is only one sure way to tell the difference between coins of the two series. A ‘P’ mintmark is struck on each uncirculated coin indicating it was produced at the US Mint’s facility in Philadelphia. No mintmark is present on the bullion coins.
Shown on the obverse of all of the America the Beautiful related coins is the same portrait of George Washington, by John Flanagan. This portrait first appeared on the 1932 circulating quarter dollar and has been in use on the quarters, with minor variations, ever since.
The design emblematic of Great Sand Dunes National Park that will be featured on the reverse of this particular coin will likely not be known until late in 2013. This will be chosen from several design candidates released by the United States Mint earlier in the year.
Great Sand Dunes National Park of Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park is found in Alamosa County and Saguache County of Colorado. It was originally created as Great Sand Dunes National Monument on March 17, 1932 but elevated to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on September 13, 2004.
The national park protects massive sand dunes that 750 feet above the valley floor below. These sand dunes are constantly being regenerated through a system of erosion and wind. In addition, alpine lakes, forests and mountaintops are also found within the park.
The National Park Service describes Great Sand Dunes National Park with:
"The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Experience this diversity through hiking, sand sledding, splashing in Medano Creek, wildlife watching, and more!"