The America the Beautiful 5 oz. Silver Quarter Series began back in 2010, and has become a major coin series for U.S. coin collectors ever since. 2017 marks the 8th year of production for this popular series, and releases will be commemorating national parks, monuments, and historical sites from five more states. While designs have not been released yet, find out what to expect in 2017!
2017 will be the 8th year for the popular series of 5 oz. Silver Quarters known as the America the Beautiful (ATB) Quarter Series. Issued with the same designs as their clad Quarter counterparts that are made for circulation, the Silver Quarters exist in two types:
The designs for the 2017 ATB Quarter releases have been reviewed by the two committees that review U.S. coin designs, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts. Each group recommended different designs, and in two cases (the designs for Ellis Island and Effigy Mounds) the CCAC was not able to recommend any of the designs provided by the Mint. In February, however, the committee was able to recommend designs for the Ellis Island and Effigy Mounds issues.
The 2017 designs have been selected by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and a press release with the five designs is coming soon, according to the U.S. Mint.
Each year, the ATB coin releases are issued in the order that corresponds to when they were established as a U.S. Federal entity.
On February 6, 2017, the first ATB Quarters of the New Year will be launched. These will honor the Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa. This monument became part of the National Park Service in 1949 in order to protect and preserve these prehistoric mounds fo earth. The 2,526-acre site contains over 200 distinct burial mounds created by various Native American tribes to honor deceased loved ones and for use in their culture. The mounds are shaped like various birds, snakes, or bears, as well as many other mammals and reptiles.
Quarters for the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, DC will be launched on April 3rd. This site became part of the National Park Service in 1962 and honors the home of famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass, which he dubbed “Cedar Hill.” Douglass was born into slavery and devoted his life to fighting for equal rights for everyone. He purchased Cedar Hill after he was appointed Marshal for the District of Columbia – the first black man to receive a federal appointment which required approval from the Senate.
On August 28, the Ellis Island National Monument in New Jersey will be honored with ATB Quarters. This monument opened in 1892 and became part of the National Park Service in 1965. More than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island after 1892, and 40% of the American population can trace its ancestry to Ellis Island. The location reopened in 1990 after being abandoned for 30 years, and is now a museum and is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument.
The final release comes on November 13 and honors the George Rogers National Historic Park in Indiana. It is the location where on February 25, 1779, American Revolutionary War Lieutenant Colonel George Rogers Clark led his troops to Fort Sackville, where they overthrew the British army stationed there. These actions enabled the U.S. to lay claim to an area the size of the 13 original colonies, and was one of the greatest achievements of the American Revolution. A classical memorial was built in 1936, and the location was transferred to the National Park Service in 1966.
The two versions have seen varying mintage levels over the years, however, last year the Mint announced that the authorized mintage limit for each issue would be 150,000 total for both versions. The collector's versions currently have an authorized mintage limit of 30,000 coins, and if that many are sold, the bullion coins would have a limit of 120,000 coins. However, it all depends on how many coins are actually sold. If sales end for a collector's version before the coin sells 30,000 units, the bullion mintage limit could be higher than 120,000.
Sales of the bullion coins in 2016 were the highest since 2011, but they appeared to have tapered off over the course of this year. The first release of 2016 for Shawnee National Forest sold 105,000 coins, the next issue for Cumberland Gap National Historic Park sold 75,000, and the third issue for Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park sold 34,400 as of August 15. Rising silver prices, which continued to push up the cost of these coins, likely played a role.
The fourth release of 2016 for Theodore Roosevelt National Park launched on August 25 will be available in early September and the collector's coins in October. As I explained in April in my article Overview of 2016 America the Beautiful 5 oz. Silver Quarters, these coins are likely to be very popular because of Roosevelt’s role in creating the National Park System and his huge impact on American numismatics. Not to mention, he is one of the most popular presidents of all time!
Sales numbers of the collector's coins issued in 2016 are all under 20,000 as of the time of writing, though a sell-out of the Roosevelt coin is definitely a possibility. The Mint has not announced any changes to mintage levels for 2017, so for now we can assume the same limits will apply to those coins going forward.
An important development shaping the future of the ATB program is spot silver prices, which rose substantially in 2016. This has brought the cost of the bullion and collector’s versions much closer to each other. If sales of the collector’s version remain at the sub-20,000 level, those coins should perform well in the long-term. Collector’s coins in the top grade of Specimen 70 should do especially well, which has been the case for many of the earlier issues.
Those who stick with the series through the end will be collecting 15 more Quarters in 2018-2020 and a final coin in 2021 honoring the Tuskegee Airmen site in Alabama. This will be a major holding of collectible coins, not to mention a large amount of silver bullion. The ATB Quarters are not only a fascinating series of coins that depict U.S. national parks, monuments, and history, but also a modern, low-mintage silver bullion coin.
MCM will continue to carry both versions of ATB releases, including raw and graded bullion coins as well as collector's versions graded by the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).
Author Name: Louis Golino
Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst,” and in August 2021 the column received the NLG award for best column on modern U.S. coins. He has also received other awards for his writing. He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and and other publications. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.