The 2016 Shawnee America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin will be issued by the United States Mint as the first of five 2016-dated releases of the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin™ series. A design on the reverse of the coin will be emblematic of Shawnee National Forest located in the state of Illinois.
Along with being the first of the year for the series, the Shawnee Silver Uncirculated Coin also marks the thirty-first of the program. Coins of the series started appearing with five 2010-dated strikes with five new coins issued annually from that point until the last one is scheduled to be released in 2021.
The US Mint created the series as the numismatic versions of the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins™ Program. It had the authority to create the uncirculated coins under power given to the Secretary of the Treasury in 31 U.S.C. §5111(a) (3) to "prepare and distribute numismatic items."
Understanding that their would undoubtedly be collector interest in the related bullion coins, the option was taken to create this silver uncirculated series. Both series feature nearly identical specifications including being composed of five ounces of .999 fine silver with a diameter of three inches.
There are two major differences, however, between coins of the two series – distribution and mintmark. First, the bullion coins are sold through a network of authorized purchasers for a small premium above the current spot price of the silver contained within. This differs from the uncirculated coins which typically carry a much larger premium and are sold directly to the public by the United States Mint.
Second, the bullion series of coins do not carry a mintmark which is standard for bullion coins from the Mint. The uncirculated coins have a ‘P’ mintmark indicating they were struck at the US Mint’s facility in Philadelphia.
Both series feature designs originally created for a third US Mint series – the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. These designs include an obverse portrait of George Washington, the first President of the United States, and a reverse emblematic of the chosen site of national interest to be featured on the coin.
Fifty-six sites were selected to be featured in the America the Beautiful Program. One was selected from each state as well as the District of Columbia and the five US territories. The release order for the coins is dictated by the order in which the selected sites came under the direct control of the federal government.
Shawnee National Forest in Illinois
Shawnee National Forest is located in the Ozark and Shawnee hills in the southern part of Illinois. The area was established in 1933 but not officially declared a national forest until September 6, 1939.
In between those years, the area of the national forest to be was expanded and much if it planted with pine trees. This was done to prevent erosion to the soil as a vast majority of it was exhausted farmland.
Besides the pine trees, the national forest also includes many hardwoods common to the region.