Our 5 Favorite Modern Commemorative U.S. Gold Coins & Reasons Why
As a coin dealer and coin collector, we have our share of favorite coins. There are some that we prefer based solely on the demand for the items and others due to the history, design, mintage and design(s). As a bit of an old school coin collector, we tend to prefer the classic numismatic coins, with our favorite being the Morgan silver dollar. While we love modern coins for investment purposes, such as the American gold eagle and American silver eagle, most of the modern U.S. commemorative coins in this author’s opinion are a bit mundane.
From a personal standpoint there’s not much variety – especially when you’re producing the same size and denomination coin year after year with different images. With that being said, there are some U.S. modern commemorative gold coins that stand above the crowd.
All the coins are unique in some way, which adds to their appeal. Not only that, but there tends to be strong demand from the coin collecting community. We call this a win-win!
Rarely does a coin dealer find themselves in a position where they are personally drawn to certain coins that are highly marketable, but in the case of the 5 modern commemorative gold coins that we’re going to highlight below, that is the case.
Before we get started, we’re going to share with our readers a bit of history surrounding commemorative U.S. gold coins, how they came to be, and when the production of these coins began.
History of Modern Commemorative U.S. Gold Coins
To begin with, it’s important to differentiate between classic U.S. gold coins and modern U.S. gold coins so that we’re clear on the type of coins we’re referring to.
Classic U.S. Gold Coins
These coins began with the 1903 $1 Jefferson and $1 McKinley commemorative gold coin and had a fairly short run. The classic commemorative gold program ended in 1926 with the issuance of the $2.50 Sesquicentennial gold coin.
The reason for the short-lived program was due in part to Executive Order 6102 signed by FDR in 1933, making it illegal for U.S. citizens to hold (own) gold coins.
The U.S. waited 58 years for the issuance of the next commemorative gold coin…
In 1984, a $10 modern commemorative gold coin was issued to commemorate the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The proceeds were used in part to raise funds for the Olympic committee. The size, weight and denomination of the coin is the same as Pre-1933 U.S. $10 gold coins, with a weight of slightly less than half an ounce. Since 1984, commemorative gold coins have been issued most years, but vary in size, denomination and weight.
To try and not show favoritism, we’ll highlight our five favorite modern commemorative U.S. gold coins in date order instead of personal preference.
You may find that some of these coins are on your list of favorite coins as well.
2000 $10 Library of Congress Bi-Metallic Coin
While there were many fine commemorative coins issued from 1984 through 1999, the first coin that really captures our attention is the 2000 $10 Library of Congress bi-metallic gold and platinum coin.
This is the first bimetallic coin produced by the U.S. Mint, and up to this writing, the only one, which makes it unique. The outer ring is composed of 90% gold and the inner circle of pure platinum.
The actual gold and platinum weight of the coin is slightly less than half an ounce. The combined mintage of the coin (proof and uncirculated) was slightly under 35,000.
We could recount all the coin specifics from Wikipedia but won’t bore you with the details. However, one interesting fact is that John Mercanti designed the obverse or front of the coin, who also happens to be the designer of the American silver eagle.
In hand, the coin looks spectacular. The contrast of the gold and platinum makes it much more appealing than if either metal had solely been used. While we personally like the contrast of the proof coin, the uncirculated version was produced in smaller quantities, and is more valuable due to its rarity. If you’re able to acquire either coin at roughly the same price, we recommend opting for the uncirculated version purely from an investment perspective.
One quick note regarding the available retail options of this coin – our personal preference is to purchase it with the original box and COA as opposed to a certified version. In fact, this coin in a 69 grade trades for less than the coin in the original government packaging. However, the market for a 70 grade coin is higher than a coin with the original packaging.
2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin
The 2009 Ultra High Relief (UHR) Double Eagle gold coin commemorates the iconic high relief St. Gaudens gold coin, which may be the most beautiful U.S. coin ever issued. Due to issues with the dies and minting process, the original Saint Gaudens gold coin was only produced as a high relief gold coin in 1907. All subsequent coins through the end of this type series were all standard strike and low relief gold coins.
The 2009 UHR gold coin differs from the original in a couple of ways.
The original coin was composed of 90% gold and had a gold weight of .9675 while the 2009 UHR was struck in 24k gold, weighs exactly a troy ounce and is smaller in diameter and thicker than the original coin.
The modern commemorative also includes the inscription “In God We Trust,” which was absent from the 1907 Saint Gaudens, and has 50 stars surrounding Lady Liberty on the front, as opposed to 46 stars, which at that time represented the number of states in the union.
Another aspect of this coin that sets it apart from other commemorative coins is the beautiful packaging. The coin is housed in a mahogany wood presentation case with a certificate of authenticity and an attractive outer box. Additionally, a hardbound booklet accompanies the coin, which includes the history of the coin. To date, we have not seen comparable packaging with a commemorative coin. However, those interested in the coin should keep in mind that the packaging takes up a considerable amount of space, at least in comparison to the size of the coin.
While the 2009 Ultra High Relief gold coin was only produced as an uncirculated coin, there are some examples that have been assigned a proof-like designation by the leading grading companies, which gives the appearance of a proof coin and increases the value of the coin.
Overall, the value and demand of this coin has remained strong since the initial release in 2009 and there’s no reason to believe that will change in the years to come. This is a must have for collectors of modern commemorative U.S. gold coins.
2014 Baseball Hall of Fame $5 Gold Coin
The 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame $5 commemorative gold coin may be the least valuable coin on our list, but it is truly unique in that it was the first curved coin produced by the U.S. Mint. Considering the success and popularity of the coin, the Mint has since produced an Apollo 11 and Basketball Hall of Fame curved coin. By the time you read this, there may be other U.S. curved coins added to the commemorative gold coin lineup.
Circling back to the coin at hand, the design of the Baseball Hall of Fame $5 gold coin was ingenious, as the front or obverse of the coin boasts an image of a baseball while the recessed or concave reverse side depicts an image of a glove. In this writer’s opinion, this is the most impressive design of a $5 modern gold coin that we’ve seen.
For those of you who are interested in the history of the coin, it was produced to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
For you historians out there, you might also be interested to know that the first five players inducted into the inaugural Hall of Fame class were Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner, and Babe Ruth. These were truly iconic players and legends of the game.
At one point in time, you had to be the best of the best for a sustained period to be considered for the Hall of Fame. In this writer’s opinion, the standards for induction into the Hall of Fame have fallen to an unacceptable level. However, that takes nothing away from this beautiful coin.
As is the case with other modern commemorative gold coins, this coin has the same specifications as the $5 Liberty Head gold coin. Also, similar to the $10 Library of Congress bi-metallic coin, the mintage of uncirculated $5 gold coins was a decent bit less than the proof version with final counts of 17,677 and 32,427 coins, respectively.
While we typically recommend purchasing most commemorative coins with the original government packaging, that’s not necessarily the case with these coins. We give credit to PCGS, one of the two leading third party grading services in the industry, as they were able to secure signature labels for their certified coins from living Hall of Famers. Interestingly, not everyone who signed the labels has been inducted into the Hall of Fame, with Pete Rose being the most controversial figure. Dale Murphy is another example, and I’m sure there are others. For a baseball and coin collecting fan like me, I couldn’t ask for a better product from the U.S. Mint, and I’m sure many other collectors feel the same.
2014 Kennedy Half Dollar Gold Coin
There may be no more popular president in the modern era than John F. Kennedy. As many of our readers may be aware, he was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, TX. Based on stories relayed to us from many Baby Boomers, the entire country mourned his death.
To honor this beloved president, the U.S. Mint scrapped their plans of issuing a 1964 Franklin half dollar and went into high gear to produce a Kennedy half dollar coin, which was released to the public on March 24, 1964. It instantly become the most popular coin in the marketplace, and to this day is one of the most requested coins that we deal in.
Fast forward 50 years and the U.S. Mint issued a 2014 Kennedy half dollar gold coin to commemorate the 50th year of the Kennedy half dollar coin. The coin was unique in a couple of different ways in that the U.S. Mint wanted to try and maintain the same specifications as the original coin, which required a non-standard gold coin to be produced. This is the reason for the unique weight of the coin at three-quarters of an ounce. In fact, to date, this is the only 3/4 oz gold coin that has been produced by the U.S. Mint.
This coin was an instant hit in 2014 and while not a standard size, it continues to be extremely popular to this day. It is similar in width to the 1964 silver half dollar, but because it’s composed of 24k gold, it weighs considerably more. A 1964 Kennedy half dollar weighs 12.5 grams while the 2014 gold Kennedy half dollar weighs 23.32 grams, nearly double the weight.
The packaging for the 2014 Kennedy gold half dollar is almost as impressive as the 2009 UHR gold coin and has some similarities in that it’s composed of mahogany wood and includes a COA with an attractive outer box. However, unlike the 2009 UHR gold coin, it does not include a booklet.
At the time of this writing, the demand for this coin continues to remain strong. The highest demand coins are in the original packaging or certified in a 70 grade by NGC or PCGS.
Unlike the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame $5 gold coin and 2000 $10 Library of Congress bi-metallic coin, the 2014 gold Kennedy half dollar is only available as a proof coin. Considering that JFK is an iconic figure, we see no reason why this coin shouldn’t continue to be in high demand in the years to come.
2016 Centennial Gold Commemorative Coins
The U.S. Mint launched some of the most popular commemorative gold coins in its history when it introduced the 2016 centennial gold coin program in 2016. It marked the 100th anniversary of the Mercury silver dime, the Standing Liberty quarter and the Walking Liberty half dollar. It was also innovative in that the dimensions of coins are similar to the original coins and the respective weights or sizes of the gold coins were a first for the U.S Mint.
The 2016 1/10 oz Mercury gold coin is the most popular of the three coins and trades at the highest premium above its underlying gold value.
The next most popular of the three coins is the 1/2 oz Walking Liberty gold half dollar, and last but not least, is the 1/4 oz Standing Liberty quarter gold coin.
All coins were produced as uncirculated coins and are available in the original packaging and as certified coins, similar to those we’ve highlighted above.
As a collector myself, the Walking Liberty half dollar is one of my personal favorites. Besides the beautiful iconic design of the coin, which is the same image used on the popular 1 oz American silver eagle, the coin series has several lower mintage coins. In fact, this is such a popular coin that we’ve dedicated a prior article to it. We’re clearly not the only fans of this coin considering the value and popularity of the 2016 Walking Liberty gold half dollar.
The Mercury dime, Standing Liberty quarter and Walking Liberty half dollar are some of the most collected coins in the industry. Since the commemorative gold coins are available as fractional coins, this makes them a bit more affordable than some of the larger commemorative gold coins. As such, we anticipate that these will continue to perform well, and at a minimum, maintain their value in the years to come.
In conclusion, while we’re typically drawn more toward classic commemorative coins, there are a handful of modern commemorative U.S. gold coins that are unique and have captured our attention from a business and personal perspective.
We began our discussion with a 2000 $10 Library of Congress bi-metallic gold and platinum coin. This is the first bi-metallic coin issued by the U.S. Mint and exhibits a beautiful contrast with a gold outer ring and a platinum inner circle or core. The coins aren’t particularly rare and can be acquired at a reasonable premium above the underlying metal content.
The next coin that we highlighted is a 2009 Ultra High Relief Double Eagle Gold Coin. It’s a 24k gold coin that commemorates the iconic 1907 high relief Saint Gaudens gold coin. While produced as an uncirculated coin, some of these coins have been assigned a “proof-like” designation, which can increase the value of the coin by a substantial amount.
The first of the two commemorative gold coins from 2014 that we highlighted is the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame $5 gold coin. What makes it unique is that it is the first curved gold coin issued by the U.S. Mint. The front of the coin depicts an image of a curved baseball while the reverse is concave and is in the image of a baseball glove. A must have for any baseball fan!
The second 2014 commemorative gold coin is the 50th anniversary 2014 gold Kennedy half dollar. The coin has the same diameter as the original 1964 Kennedy half dollar but weighs substantially more. It’s a special coin not only because of the popularity of JFK, but also because of the unique weight of 3/4 oz.
Last but not least is the trifecta of the 2016 centennial commemorative gold coins. Included are the 1/10 oz Mercury gold dime, the 1/4 oz Standing Liberty gold quarter and the 1/2 oz Walking Liberty gold half dollar. These gold coins commemorate three of the most sought after 90% silver coins in the industry. and are sure to remain popular for the foreseeable future.
While we primarily deal in pre-1933 U.S. gold coins, classic commemorative gold coins and modern government-issued gold coins, modern commemorative gold coins appear to have a place in most coin collections.
We suggest acquiring commemorative gold coins that are unique in some way, as this increases the likelihood that the coins will maintain their value over time.
Whether you’re in the market to buy or sell U.S. commemorative gold coins, the experts at Atlanta Gold & Coin Buyers can assist. Contact us today at 404-236-9744 to see why we’re the leading gold coin dealer in metro Atlanta and beyond.