Modern Gold Commemorative

Obverse of 1988 $5 Gold Commemorative
Reverse of 1988 $5 Gold Commemorative

Ron Guth: The "modern" era of gold commemoratives spans the years from 1984 to date. The last of the "classic" gold commemoratives was issued in 1926 (the Sesquicentennial $2.50). With America going off the gold standard in 1933, there was little justification or inclination to strike a gold coin of any form.

The impetus for the revival of the gold comemmorative program was the 1984 Summer Olympics, held that year in Los Angeles. Two Silver Dollars were issued to commemorate the event (and raise funds for the Olympic Committee), as well as a $10 gold piece, a first for the denomination. The new $10 gold piece was made to the same weight and alloy specifications as the Indian Head $10 gold piece, last minted in 1933. A new minting facility at West Point, New York produced both Mint State and Proof versions of the new $10 commemorative, thus making it the first U.S. coin to bear the "W" mintmark.

The list at right shows a complete roster of modern gold commemorative coins, sorted by denomination, then by date within each denomination.

Demand for the various gold commemorative coins has been mixed. Those with higher mintages are barely worth more than their metal value (and, in fact, many have been melted down over the years). Others, with lower mintages, fetch big premiums. For instance, the 1997 Jackie Robinson $5 in Mint State has a low mintage of 5,174 pieces and is one of the most popular of the modern gold commemorative coins.

Because they saw little or no circulation, all of the modern gold commemoratives can be found in superb condition. A collection of these coins illustrates a fascinating array of people, places and events that even non-numismatists can appreciate.