Yosemite National Park silver rounds

The Yosemite silver rounds don't represent a secure, profitable silver bullion purchase.

Okay, let’s cut right to the chase: if you’re looking for a profitable silver bullion purchase, don’t buy any of the U.S. Mint’s new five-ounce Yosemite National Park silver rounds… or any other bullion in that series. The Mint makes them for collectors, not investors.

Sometimes, you’ve got to wonder if the Mint even cares about investors anymore. If it weren’t for the American eagles, it would be hard to look past their love affair with collectors.

To put it bluntly: while the Yosemite round is visually stunning, it’s probably never going to be worth what you’d have to pay for it.

An Intro

The Yosemite round is the third issue of the popular America the Beautiful bullion coin series, which highlights our national parks. Each of these lovelies measures three inches in diameter and 0.165 inches thick, and consists of .999 fine silver.

They share the same design as the ATB quarters minted for circulation, but lack the reeded edge. Instead, they’ve stamped the edges with the legend “.999 FINE SILVER 5.0 OUNCE.” They also come in a special presentation box and are guaranteed uncirculated.

(As if you could circulate a giant coin. Duh!)

Mr. Popular

The first two coins in the series, the Hot Springs and Yellowstone issues, sold around 19,000 each on their opening days, selling out within two weeks. The Yosemite entry has sold less briskly, at 20,511from its opening day of June 9 to June 12, but seems headed for a sell-out too.

Being that popular, it must be a good deal, right? Well… no. The Mint is charging $279.95 for each coin. That breaks down to $56 per ounce. As I write this in mid-June, the spot price for silver is hovering in the $35-37 range.

While you’ve got to expect to pay a premium for bullion, that’s way too high. Silver did peak at about $49 a couple of months ago, but it’s up in the air whether it’ll ever break $50, much less $56, anytime soon. And if silver did start to go up, the Mint wouldn’t hesitate to jack up the price of their bullion.

Here’s the Deal

Let’s do a little math. As I’ve already pointed out, four-day sales from June 9-12 hit 20,511. Multiplied by $279.95, that’s $5.74 million. A tidy profit however you slice it. And make no mistake: the Yosemite is very, very popular. But it’s not for us investors; it’s for people who like pretty things.

Not to denigrate pretty things, but we have to be hardnosed here if we expect to make a profit. As I’ve emphasized repeatedly in these pages, you can’t count on collectible value to ever increase. The Mint thought those Anthony dollars were going to be a hit with collectors back in the 1970s…and boy, were they wrong.

Numismatic Value?

Bullion is supposed to be exempt from numismatic value, so collectors won’t speculate and drive the price up for no real reason. The upshot with these coins is that either the Mint has ignored its own bullion rules (which they don’t enforce consistently anyway), or they don’t consider the ATB rounds to be true bullion.

You can argue that they aren’t, since the Mint has clearly made them for collectors and the price is so high. But they have all the hallmarks of size, purity, content, and features typical of bullion, which confuses the issue.

The bottom line: I recommend that you avoid the Yosemite and all the other ATB issues if you’re in it for the money. They don’t represent a secure, profitable silver bullion purchase, no matter what they look like.