The 2014 Great Smoky Mountains America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin is the first of five 2014-dated strikes to be released as part of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin™ series. The reverse of the coin will contain a design emblematic of Great Smoky Mountains National Park located in the state of Tennessee.
This design will actually also be found on coins of two other US Mint series, the first of which is the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. The quarters series serves as the design basis for all America the Beautiful related coins and was authorized by Congress with the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008.
That same act also authorized a series of bullion coins which the US Mint has named the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins™. Each bullion coin of the program was to feature the same designs as found on the associated quarters, but be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver to a diameter of three inches.
Anticipating collector demand for the unprecedented bullion coins, the US Mint opted to also create numismatic versions. Under the authority granted the Secretary of the Treasury in 31 U.S.C. §5111(a) (3) to “prepare and distribute numismatic items,” this series of America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coins was created.
The uncirculated coins are struck with the same designs and basic specifications as the bullion coins. However, as they are numismatic pieces they are sold directly to the public by the US Mint and contain a ‘P’ mintmark indicating they were struck at the US Mint’s facility in Philadelphia. The related bullion coins are sold through a network of authorized purchasers and have no mintmark – both of which are standard practice for bullion coins from the US Mint.
As previously mentioned, designs on all America the Beautiful coins are originally taken from the quarter series. This includes an obverse portrait of George Washington by John Flanagan that was first seen on quarters in 1932 and has been appearing on them in one form or another ever since.
The reverse of this particular coin showcases a design emblematic of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Design candidates for the coin should be unveiled by the US Mint sometime in mid-2013 with a final design selection announced later that year.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park of Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park of Tennessee was authorized by Congress in 1926, established on June 15, 1934 and officially dedicated in 1940. The reason for the long time-frame in between was owed to the fact that originally none of the land was owned by the federal government.
Through private donations (like $5 million from John D. Rockefeller, Jr.) and government investment, land was slowly purchased to create the park. Today the park encompasses 522,419 acres straddling the Great Smoky Mountains ridge line between Tennessee and North Carolina.
The National Park Service describes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with:
"Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park."