Ron Guth: In 1996, the United States hosted the summer games of the XXVI Olympiad in Atlanta, Georgia. This was an especially important event for America because it coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Olympic games. To commemorate the occasion, the U.S. Mint created specially designed Half Dollars, Silver Dollars, and $5 gold pieces for issuance in 1995 and 1996. This was the most ambitious commemorative coin program to date -- 16 different coins were produced and sold to collectors at a premium.
Two different 1996-dated $5 gold pieces were struck in both Mint State and Proof formats at the West Point Mint. The first version featured a flag bearer leading a procession of American athletes. The second version displays an athlete lighting the Olympic torch (this type is known as the "Cauldron"). Both types shared a common reverse with the logo of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games nestled between two branches of laurel.
Sales of both types were even less than for those of the 1995 Olympic gold coins. The mintage of the Mint State Flag Bearer $5 gold piece set a new record low of just over 9,000 coins; the mintage of the "Cauldron" was barely higher. As a result, Mint State versions of both 1996 Olympic gold coins command strong premiums.