The 2010 Yellowstone America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin is the second coin to be issued by the United States Mint from its new America the Beautiful Silver Coin Program.
These coins were initially sold to the US Mint’s network of authorized purchasers who is responsible for distribution of all Mint bullion products. The network was allowed to begin placing orders for the entire mintage of 33,000 of the Yellowstone Bullion Coins (as well as the other four 2010-dated strikes of the series) on December 10, 2010. By the end of the month, the entire mintage had been ordered and within a couple months would be re-sold to the public.
This America the Beautiful silver coin honors Yellowstone National Park which is located primarily in the state of Wyoming. The Yellowstone coin is struck in five ounces of .999 fine silver and has a three inch diameter, which is double the size of early U.S. silver coins. For example, the one-ounce American Silver Eagle is 1.598 inches in diameter.
The Wyoming bullion piece bears the same design as its circulating quarter-dollar counterpart, the Yellowstone National Park Quarter. However, is not only unique in its massive size, but it has inscriptions with the weight and fineness incused on its edge.
Each of the new bullion coins in the series must be emblematic of a selected national park or other 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. Five new designs are being released per year, beginning in 2010 and ending with the last in 2021.
Like all bullion coins, they are not directly available from the US Mint. Instead, the Mint sells them to a small network of "authorized purchasers" who then resell them to the public for a small premium over the current spot price of silver.
The U.S. Mint announced the final design for the Yellowstone America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin on March 24, 2010. Shown in the above image, the design features Old Faithful geyser with a mature bull bison in the foreground. It was designed and sculpted by Don Everhart.
Prior to U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy giving his coin recommendations to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who made the final selection, the Mint created several design candidates or proposals. The designs — all emblematic of Yellowstone National Park — were reviewed by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA). These are two bodies who review all U.S. coinage and medal designs.
For reference, the following are line art images of the three proposed Yellowstone America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin designs, and the recommendations made by the CCAC and CFA:
The CCAC chose design “WY-01″ with the following remarks to Treasury Secretary Geithner:
“The Committee strongly prefers design 1, showing Old Faithful geyser with bison in the foreground and background. Members felt that design 1 would work well on a small coin, and that the depiction of animal life enhanced the design.”
The CFA rejected all three candidates, in hopes of seeing better "quality." They supported the idea of depicting Old Faithful, according to a report from CFA Secretary Thomas E. Luebke to the Mint, but felt additional source material, such as Thomas Moran’s paintings could be used as inspiration.
In the end, WY-01 was used as the template for the final Yellowstone America the Beautiful Silver Coin.
The United States Mint will also be releasing a collector grade version of this coin known as the Yellowstone Silver Uncirculated Coin.
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
Old Faithful, the most popular geyser in the world, is just one of the many extraordinary geysers located in Yellowstone National Park. The vast park also extends beyond the Wyoming state line, into Idaho and Montana, and plays host to grizzly bears, wolves, bison, and elk.
Native Americans had lived in the area for millennia before white explorers ever ventured near Yellowstone. In the early 1800′s, the famous Lewis and Clark expedition would pass by but chose not to investigate. For the next several decades only a few fur trappers would experience the natural wonders that the Indian tribes had known for thousands of years.
In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the law creating Yellowstone National Park. This marked the first time a park area was created for the protection of its natural resources.
Eventually, the U.S. Army established Camp Sheridan (later renamed Fort Yellowstone) and started policing and caring for the area. When the Army turned over control to a new National Park Service in 1918, many of these policies were adopted for use by the new agency.
Today, it is estimated that over 3 million people visit the park each year, many of them utilizing the in-park hotels and cabins.