U.S. Coin Price Guide

Coin Collecting

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Modern commems soar
By Steve Roach

The modern commemorative coin market is an area that is ripe for speculation and has more volatility than one might initially think.

Modern commemorative coins (those struck since 1982) are generally available in large quantities, making them easy to promote outside of the hobby, and are available in very high grades.

The prices for individual issues ebb and flow based on the demand generated from promotions. A single promotion can place enough pressure on a given issue to raise the price – most notably with the low-mintage issues.

While the prices of issues in some series generally move together, like Liberty Head 5-cent coins or Peace dollars, price changes with modern commemoratives are more issue-specific.

Some issues have provided their owners with huge gains over the past five years. For example, an Uncirculated 2000-W Library of Congress Bicentennial ringed bimetallic $10 coin traded in 2004 at around $1,300. Today, it is likely to fetch $3,500 or more.

Another cluster of issues that show dramatic gains is the Uncirculated 1995 and 1996 Olympic gold $5 coins with the Flag Bearer, Cauldron and Stadium designs. In 2004 these could be purchased for $400 each. Today they approach four times that amount and have shown significant advancement over the past year.

Yet, the 1995 and 1996 Olympic silver dollars currently trade at around their 2004 levels – they were pricey then and they remain expensive. The gold pieces had more room to grow, and the increased interest in gold certainly has aided in their price ascension.

The holy grail of the modern commemorative series is the 1997-W Jackie Robinson gold $5 coin with a mintage of just 5,174 pieces. An Uncirculated example sells for around $4,250 now, double its price in 2004. At its height, it traded at $5,000.

Uncirculated issues, with their lower mintages, are traditionally more volatile – and appreciate more dramatically – than their more common Proof counterparts.

The discrepancy in Proof and Uncirculated mintages stems from an attraction toward flashy mirrored Proofs for noncollectors or casual collectors, who often are the greater proportion of commemorative purchasers.

 



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