Q. David Bowers
A number of purchase choices were given to prospective buyers-with 1983 Olympic dollars offered individually and as part of sets containing 1984-dated coins as well. The following options were offered:
(1) Three-piece Uncirculated sets consisted of a 1983-P dollar, 1984-P dollar, and 1984-W $10 gold coin, offered for $395 until August 15, 1983, and available only to the early orderers of Option 5 described below. (The dates given in these options are the times during which orders were accepted at the prices listed.) 29,975 three-piece sets were eventually distributed. The coins were mounted in plastic capsules and housed in a maroon velvet presentation case with a hinged lid and a plaque of the Great Seal on the lid. The case and descriptive certificates were housed in a maroon cardboard box imprinted with the Great Seal and "United States Silver & Gold."
(2) 1983 Uncirculated dollar sets consisted of 1983-P, D, and S dollars at $89 the trio, a price increased in late 1983 to $100 per set. Coins in plastic capsules were housed in a gray flannel display tray bearing a plaque of a heraldic eagle. The coins, tray, and descriptive certificates were contained in a blue box with a lid imprinted with the Great Seal and "United States Silver Dollars."
(3) Single Uncirculated 1983-P silver dollars were offered at $28 each. 81,629 were sold. Each coin was mounted in a plastic capsule set on a gray felt lined trayhoused in a blue cardboard box with a lid imprinted with the Great Seal and "United States Silver Dollar."
(4) Cased six-coin sets consisted of 1983-P and S dollars, 1984-P and S dollars, each in Uncirculated finish, plus 1984- W Uncirculated and 1984-P Proof $10 pieces. The six coins were offered for $850. Somewhat over 8,926 sets were sold. Coins in plastic capsules were housed in a cherry wood box lined with maroon velvet (the underside of the lid was lined with maroon satin). The lid was imprinted with the Great Seal. The cherry wood box and descriptive literature were contained in a black cardboard box lined inside with maroon velvet and imprinted on the lid with the Treasury Seal and "United States Mint."
(5) Three-piece Proof sets consisted of the 1983-S dollar, 1984-S dollar, and 1984-W $10, and were offered at $352 from October 15,1982, to January 25,1983, and at $416 to those who ordered from January 26, 1983 through June 5, 1983. 260,083 of these sets were sold. Coins in plastic capsules were housed in a maroon velvet presentation case with a hinged lid. The case and descriptive literature were contained in a maroon cardboard box imprinted with the Great Seal and "United States Silver & Gold."
(6) "Coliseum three-piece Proof sets" consisted of the 1983-S dollar, 1984-S dollar, and 1984-S $10, all Proofs. At the Olympic Games in the summer of 1984, 4,000 sets were dis-tributed this way. The packaging was identical to Option 5.
(7) Proof silver dollar sets consisted of a pair of 1983-S and 1984-S Proof dollars offered at $48 from October 15, 1982, through January 25, 1983, and for $58 from January 26, 1983, to June 5, 1983. 386,609 were sold. Coins in plastic capsules were housed in a maroon velvet presentation case with a hinged lid on which was mounted a plaque of a heraldic eagle.
(8) 1983-S Prestige Proof sets consisted ofa 1983-S Proof Olympic dollar combined with regular Proof sets of coins from the Lincoln cent to the half dollar at $59. l40,361 were sold this way, mainly to those on the Mint mailing list as regular Proof set purchasers. Each set was mounted in a maroon plastic case hinged between two leatherette covers with "1983" in silver imprinted on a book-type binding with a plaque of a heraldic eagle mounted on the front cover; the case was contained in a maroon cardboard box.
(9)Single 1983-S Proof dollars were offered for $24.95 each from October 15, 1982, through January 25, 1983 and at $29 from January 26, 1983, through June 5, 1983, after which remaining pieces were available for $32. Each coin was mounted in a plastic capsule set on a maroon velvet tray in a small maroon velvet presentation case with a hinged lid on which is a plaque of a heraldic eagle. The case was housed ill a cardboard box with a white bottom and maroon top, the latter imprinted with the Great Seal and "United States Silver Dollar."
(10) Individual 1983.s Proof dollars were sold in specially cacheted envelopes postmarked at the Benjamin Franklin Station in Philadelphia, June 28, 1983, at $35.18 each over the counter. 290 pieces were sold (according to Philip Scott Rubin, who reported this to Walter Breen).
In addition, 1983 and 1984 Olympic coins were offered at special prices to purchasers of large quantities.
Collecting 1983 Olympic Dollars
Today 1983-P, D, and S Olympic commemorative silver dollars are readily available in condition as is sped, with by far the most plentiful variety being the 1983-S Proof.
Today in 1993, the decade-old 1983 Olympic Games silver dollars are rarely discussed in numismatic circles. Just as it is said that a prophet is without honor in his own country, recent United States coinage, commemorative and otherwise (Proof sets are included in this statement), has not had much honor iii the country of issue. Part of this is because with relatively few exceptions, modern commemorative coins in the aftermarket have sold for less than their issue price. Nothing dampens the collecting spirit more than to layout, say, $100 for a set of coins, only to find out a year later that the same set could have been bought for $75, and on a wholesale basis one would do well to get $50. Part of this problem lies in the high-priced: charge for the coins to begin with. Much of the' "profit" that would-normally have gone-to those holding the sets, went instead to those selling the sets specifically the Treasury Department and, by means of the surcharge, the Olympic Games. There wasn't much left on the table for numismatists.
The historical record is much the same for older commemoratives. They, too, were often without honor during their time of issue. In particular, commemorative half dollars of the 1930s were widely ignored, even despised, and by 1941, all of them had dropped in value from below their market highs. However, in most instances the market highs were substantially above the issue prices, and those who bought them from the issuing commissions when the coins were first released usually did well. The government wasn't as money-hungry back then; and collectors had a fairer snake.
Notwithstanding the numismatic and other controversies swirling around modern commemoratives, a coin is a coin is a coin, and as time goes on, such controversies will be forgotten, and the piece will be looked at only as a numismatic specimen, As noted in my 'introduction to' the commemoratives, in its day the 1936 Cincinnati half dollars were standard ridden, but today they' are eagerly sought after, and only a few even know that the scandals occurred. Similarly, many if not most pattern coins produced by the United States Mint in the 1870s and early 1880s, were sold officially and unofficially under a cloud of suspicion and amid many hard feelings. Today the coins themselves are considered, and relatively few remember what S.K Harzfeld,W. Elliot Woodward, and other dealers had to say about the situation over a century ago. Taken as numismatic history and art, the 1983 Olympic dollars are certainly interesting.