Perhaps the most successful of the U.S. Mint's recently introduced coin programs is the America the Beautiful series. Introduced in 2010 just as the wildly popular 50 State Quarters® program came to an end, the ATB series has earned acclaim from bullion stackers thanks to the designs appearing on five-ounce silver coins as well as circulating quarter-dollars.
America the Beautiful
There are two distinct advantages to the America the Beautiful quarters that collectors and investors have taken note of. The first relates to the designs.
The series avoids one of the main pitfalls of the state quarters, which was design ambiguity or the potential thereof. Each quarter in the preceding program (which ran from 1999-2010) represented the history or culture of that state in its design. This often led to highly abstract concepts that cobbled together disparate elements of the state's identity. In short, it was a recipe for inevitably making someone unhappy because no single design is going to satisfy every interest in a particular state.
The ATB series deftly solves this issue because its subject matter is less abstract. By highlighting America's national parks and protected historical sites—equitably, one from each state—the mint's artists can focus on real-life monuments as direct inspiration. These national symbols are impressive enough in their own right, and lend themselves to detailed landscapes and picturesque features of the country on the coin's surface.
Iowa: Effigy Mounds
The newest release in this flagship U.S. Mint program is the 2017 Effigy Mounds ATB 5 oz silver quarter, celebrating the Marching Bear Group mounds in the shapes of animals that were built by prehistoric Native Americans in Iowa.
Like the previous bullion coins released in the ATB series, each coin is struck from .999 fine silver and measures an impressive three inches in diameter. In an intriguing decision, the five-ounce silver ATB coins have their weight and purity specifications inscribed along the edge. This device was also used for the expiring Presidential dollars series.
Naturally, some collectors have been disappointed by some of the ATB designs, while others are glad to see something unique that departs from the recent past. Demand for the Effigy Mounds silver coins has been robust, however. As of a week ago, about 20,000 of the bullion coins have been distributed by the U.S. Mint out of a maximum mintage of 25,000. (This maximum is subject to change if demand proves to be particularly strong.)
The America the Beautiful program will expire in 2021. There is no announced replacement yet, so the mint's Artistic Infusion program will have to wait for direction from the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts on any new quarter designs after that date. Long before that, these advisory bodies will make a big decision about the designs appearing on the proposed first-ever palladium bullion coin.
The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.