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A Closer Look at American Commemorative Coins

A Closer Look at American Commemorative Coins


For both experienced and beginner coin collectors, few coin types are as special and exciting as commemorative coins. Virtually every nation in history has issued commemorative coinage to honor and celebrate important people, places, and events, and the United States is no exception.

History and Purpose

Photo of two commemorative silver coins, which are sometimes found at Atlanta Gold & Coin in Atlanta, GA
Commemorative coins officially got their start in the United States in 1892 with a half dollar coin marking the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage. It is commonly referred to as the Columbian Exposition half dollar. In the decades that followed, many more were issued, mostly to special interest groups who had had dealings with Congress. The last of these “classic” commemorative coins were issued in 1954 with the production of the Carver/Washington half dollar.

It wasn’t until 1982 that the United States Commemorative Coin program was started and began issuing new coins. The program was kicked off with the Washington commemorative half dollar, marking the 250th anniversary of Washington’s birth. Since then, many of the coins being produced at the United States Mint commemorated an event or place—like the 2014 coin celebrating baseball or the America the Beautiful quarters that commemorate national parks. Today, there exist numerous varieties that are sure to thrill any collector, buyer, or seller.

Why Collect Commemorative Coins?

While commemorative coins in the United States are technically legal tender, they are much more than mere pocket change. In fact, buying and collecting these types of coins can do a lot of good for the nation. Since they are priced above their face value and intrinsic gold and silver value, the extra money goes toward supporting public work projects—museum construction, national monument maintenance, Olympic program funding, and more.

Serious collectors, especially those who treat collecting like an investment, are also drawn to commemorative coins for their rarity and potential value. Check out our full list of rates and prices for our coins. Modern commemorative coins are usually collected by type and, ideally, in the original packaging from the mint. Collectors tend to stick with one type of finish for their collections, such as uncirculated or proof, but more serious collectors may seek out all mintmarks and variations.

The best way to start adding commemorative coins to collections of all sizes is to start searching. At Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers, we have a large inventory that visitors can browse, and we offer free no-obligation appraisals of coins and bullion. Contact us today at 404-236-9744.

Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers

Tony Davis
Tony Davis