By Bullion Shark LLC ……
In 1982, the United States Mint commemorative coin program was revived after a long hiatus with the launch of the extremely popular 1982 George Washington silver dollar, which sold a remarkable number of coins, including over 2,000,000 Uncirculated and almost 5,000,000 Proofs — numbers that have not been seen for decades.
It was not until 1986 that the first modern $5 gold commemorative coins were issued, which were made of 90% gold and 10% copper and contained .2419 ounces of gold. The first coin was part of the popular Statue of Liberty Centennial program. Over the course of the 1980s and ’90s, almost 20 different $5 gold coins were issued, plus a $10 coin in 1984 for the Los Angeles Olympics.
1997-W Jackie Robinson
Of those coins, one that every collector should have is the 1997 coin issued to mark 50 years since Jackie Robinson became the first Black baseball player allowed to play in the major leagues. Unfortunately, that coin, especially the Uncirculated version, did not sell well, reaching total sales of only 5,174 for the Mint State piece — which at the time was by far the lowest of any modern commemorative — plus 24,072 Proof coins. The likely reason is that these coins came after years of multiple $5 gold coins that were around $200 each, and collectors were overwhelmed.
For many years the Uncirculated Robinson coin was the most valuable modern commemorative, reaching a high of as much as $8,000 in 2009. But today it can be had for about $1,000 in MS69 and $1,800 in MS70. For those who can’t afford those prices, the Proof can be had for about $600 at a time when the melt value is almost $450.
The coins are likely to remain popular because they were the first modern $5 ones to come in with a low mintage and because of the popularity of baseball and Robinson himself, who is a historic figure.
2014-W Baseball Hall of Fame
Another important baseball-themed coin, which was also the first curved gold US coin, was issued in 2014 for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It essentially sold out on launch day, and by the end of the day, a waiting list was established for any remaining coins. The coins were originally priced at $432 for the Uncirculated and $437 for the Proof. For a while, they were worth substantially more than that, especially examples graded MS or PF70. But prices retreated eventually, and today they can be had for plus or minus $500 and slightly more for 70s. Definitely a good buy at current gold prices.
2018-W Breast Cancer Awareness
Another first for the Mint was the first pink $5 gold coin in 2018 for Breast Cancer Awareness, which was made of 85% gold, 14.8% copper and the rest zinc. Collectors liked the coin, but many thought it did not look as pink as they were expecting, and it sold only 4,477 in Mint State and 10,386 in Proof. This is another good buy in today’s market for plus or minus $500 and a little more in 70.
2019-W Apollo 11 50th Anniversary
The Apollo 11 commemorative coin program was the most successful modern commemorative since the 1990s, raising millions of dollars in surcharges. In addition to being only the second curved gold coin ever issued, the $5 Apollo coin sported a design collectors loved and commemorated a major historic achievement for the United States — a topic with broad appeal that went beyond coin collectors.
The $5 gold coins we’re strong sellers out of the gate and we’re priced at about $450 each. On just the first day they sold 9,066 for the uncirculated and 19,812 for the Proof. Cumulative sales were 12,035 and 32,974 respectively for the two versions. Unlike other modern gold commemoratives, these coins have increased in value compared to their issue prices. Today they bring about $550 to $600 raw and at least $700 in MS or PF70.
2020-W Basketball Hall of Fame
The third curved gold commemorative coins were issued in 2020 as part of the program that honored the 75th anniversary of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. They featured an obverse showing three players of diverse backgrounds and abilities trying to get a basketball through the net paired with a reverse that showed a ball about to go through the net.
Initially priced at $635 for the Uncirculated and $645 for the Proof, the coins were not strong sellers–likely because of the premiums over the gold price–reaching cumulative sales of just 3,263 for the Uncirculated and 8,075 for the Proof. Today they can still be purchased for about their original issue price or even $100 less in auctions, making them another good buy.
2028 LA Olympics Program Proposed
But speaking of the Olympics…
On June 13, legislation was introduced in the United States House of Representatives (H.R.8047) and the Senate (S.4382) that calls for the issuance of a set of coins for the 2028 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games that will be hosted in Los Angeles, California.
If this program is enacted into law, the Mint will issue not just clad half dollars, silver dollars and $5 gold coins but also a five-ounce silver Proof coin expected to be known as the “hockey puck”. The legislation only states that the coins must contain five ounces of .999 fine silver and have a diameter of three inches like the five-ounce silver America the Beautiful coins issued from 2010 to 2021. Those coins were sometimes called hockey pucks because of their size and shape, which adds an ironic twist to the new proposed coin.