The 2011 Olympic America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin marks the eighth strike under a program authorized by Congress to give collectors another option for bullion pieces that are guaranteed by the government of the United States for weight and purity. This program, known as the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program, features the same designs as found on the sister quarter dollar series issued at approximately the same time.
Sales of the Olympic Silver Bullion Coin began on May 23, 2011 to the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers. Demand for the series showed significant signs of waning with this release, however. Previous strikes sold out within weeks, however the Olympic Silver Bullion Coin was still available throughout the rest of 2011 and into 2012.
Each bullion coin will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver coin and have an overly large diameter of three inches (bigger than any other bullion coin currently produced by the United States). On the edge of each of these strikes will be an inscription stating the weight and fineness of the coin.
The obverse will show a portrait of George Washington, the first President of the Untied States.
The reverse will feature a design showcasing a portion of Olympic National Park in the state of Washington. The US Mint’s description for the reverse design of the quarter (and thus this associated silver bullion coin) is as follows:
"The Olympic National Park quarter reverse design depicts a Roosevelt elk standing on a gravel river bar of the Hoh River with a view of Mount Olympus in the background. Inscriptions are OLYMPIC, WASHINGTON, 2011 and E PLURIBUS UNUM. The coin’s reverse was designed by AIP Master Designer Susan Gamble and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Michael Gaudioso."
Design candidates for the coin released earlier for review by the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts. Both of these bodies are charged with the task of reviewing and making recommendations on upcoming coinage from the US Mint.
The CCAC and the CFA both completed their initial comments on the Olympic design candidates and some of their comments are shown below.
The CCAC unanimously preferred design number "WA-01" and said so in their comments.
"For the coin portraying Olympic National Park in Washington, the Committee unanimously preferred design WA-01, which features a Roosevelt elk with a view of Mount Olympus in the background," stated the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. "Once again, the Committee found the combination of the park’s wildlife and scenery to be especially compelling."
Comments by the CFA were short, but also supported "WA-01.
"The Commission recommended alternative #1, again supporting the inclusion of an animal as an emblem of the larger landscape and commenting favorably on the depiction of the Roosevelt elk.," the CFA wrote in a letter to Mint Director Ed Moy.
As dictated by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008, the Treasury Secretary will make the final selection after seeking comment from the appropriate groups and individuals.
Both the America the Beautiful Quarters and Silver Bullion programs will feature up to five new designs each year beginning in 2010 through to 2021. Each of these coins in the eleven year series will have reverse designs that represent a selected National Park or National Site in each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories — Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.
These silver bullion coins are not sold directly by the US Mint to the public, but instead to a select group of authorized buyers (coin dealers, precious metal providers, etc.) who then resell the coins.
The United States Mint will also be releasing a collector grade version of this coin known as the Olympic Silver Uncirculated Coin.
Olympic National Park in Washington
Olympic National Park in the state of Washington was originally created as Olympic National Monument in 1909. Of course, Native Americans had known of the area’s beauty for centuries before the United States Congress decided it was a natural resource worth protecting.
In the decades just before the creation of the National Monument, settlers began to move into the Olympic peninsula. As more people lived there, more resources were demanded of Mother Nature, particularly from the trees. Logging became a lucrative industry and clear-cut hillsides became a common site.
In an effort to stop this mass destruction, Lieutenant Joseph O’Neil and Judge James Wickersham partnered up to lobby the State of Washington to restrict man’s encroachment on the area. There endeavors were not successful with the State, but soon President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt stepped in and created the National Monument, mostly to protect and encourage the breeding of a large population of Roosevelt Elk herds living in the area.
By the 1930’s, continued pressure to elevate the protection afforded the area finally was successful and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law re-designating it a national park.
The park consists of three distinct terrains – the Pacific Coast, the Olympic Mountains and a temperate rain forest. Along the 73-mile coast, many beaches can be found but most are extremely hard to visit. A 9-mile trail known as the Ozette Loop has aided in tourist visits. It consists of 3 miles of a boardwalk-enhanced path which takes visitors to the ocean. That is followed by 3 miles of shore trail which is supplemented by headland trails for the high tides. Another 3 mile boardwalk trail finishes the journey.
The Olympic Mountains are found further inland and feature Mount Olympus as their highest peak at 7,965 feet. Due to its height, Olympus sees a lot of snow which creates a glacial effect on its slopes. The largest of these glaciers is Hoh glacier which stretches nearly five kilometers.
Leading up to the western edge of the mountains is the temperate rain forest. With warm coastal winds bringing in nearly 12-feet of rain annually to the valleys, it is not hard to understand why a forest such as this could grow. Several species of trees can be found here including Sitka Spruce, Western Hemlock and Coast Douglas-Fir.
US Highway 101 allows easy access to all parts of the park and actually surrounds a majority of it in a circular fashion. From this, several side roads take visitors further inside the park boundaries, but most of the land remains relatively remote and difficult to visit.