Revisiting the 2013 Commemorative Coin Programs

As the end of the year approaches, it’s a good time to revisit the 2013 commemorative coin programs. Under the authorizing legislation for each program, the coins may be minted and issued only during the 2013-calendar year. In recent years the United States Mint has typically concluded sales for commemorative coins at a pre-announced date in mid-December. This would leave less than two months of availability remaining for the current year’s coins.


The 2013 Girl Scouts of the USA Silver Dollars went on sale February 28, 2013. The coins were issued to mark the centennial of the organization and carried a maximum mintage of 350,000 pieces. The coins were offered individually in proof or uncirculated versions, with a Young Collectors Set released later in the year containing the uncirculated version of the silver dollar.


The 2013 5-Star Generals Commemorative Coins went on sale March 21, 2013. The coins featured the five United States Army 5-Star Generals George Marshall, Douglas MacArthrur, Dwight Eisenhower, Henry Arnold, and Omar Bradley. Sales options included individual proof or uncirculated versions of $5 gold coins, silver dollars, and clad half dollars. A three coin proof set was also available and limited to an issuance of 10,000 sets. Later in the year, a Profile Collection was offered containing the uncirculated versions of the silver dollar and half dollar with a bronze medal. Across all product options, mintages were limited to 100,000 $5 gold coins, 500,000 silver dollars, and 750,000 half dollars.

For both programs, current sales levels remain well below the maximum mintage levels. Sales levels for many of the coins remain near historic lows.

The table below shows the sales levels calculated by coin from the most recent sales report. The figures represent the number of coins sold across both the individual options and the set options.

2013 Five Star Generals Commemorative Coins
$5 Gold Proof 15,044
$5 Gold Unc 4,559
Silver Dollar Proof 64,588
Silver Dollar Unc 29,079
Half Dollar Proof 44,297
Half Dollar Unc 29,318
2013 Girls Scouts Commemorative Coins
Silver Dollar Proof 82,267
Silver Dollar Unc 34,862

As has been the case for a few years running, the uncirculated version of $5 gold coin seems to be bound for final sales at the very low end of the historical spectrum. Until recently, sales for a commemorative gold coin below the 10,000 level had been considered extremely low with these coins commanding significant premiums. For both 2011 and 2012, the uncirculated $5 gold coins ended with final sales below this level, but haven’t really generated significant premiums as the market seems to be reevaluating what constitutes a “low” mintage.

The current lowest mintage modern commemorative gold coin is the 1997-W Unc Jackie Robinson $5 Gold Coin at 5,174, followed by the 2001-W Capitol Visitor Center $5 Gold Coin at 6,761. The 5-Star Generals gold coin currently has sales below these levels, but it is likely that there will be some increased buying activity heading into the end of the year.

This year’s silver dollars are pointing to sales levels that will likely represent the lowest in more than a decade. However, over a longer time frame there have been plenty of modern commemorative silver dollars with lower mintages. Each of this year’s issues are already at sales levels which are above the ten lowest mintage modern commemorative silver dollars.

The uncirculated version of the 5-Star Generals Half Dollar seems poised to set a fresh mintage low among modern commemorative half dollars. The current low of 39,461 was established for the 2011-P Uncirculated Army Half Dollar, which had experienced sharply higher secondary market prices shortly after the sell out.

As with the uncirculated 5-Star Generals gold coin, it seems likely that there will be some increased buying activity for the uncirculated half dollar going into the end of the year.

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  1. simon says

    The rarity premium may often takes years to develop based on demand. It would be interesting to see the unc. SSB Au appreciate but it has not as yet, and is available at reasonable prices despite its low mintage.

  2. Burnett says

    SSB Uncurculated sold around 2000 within the last couple of weeks. No premium (with ebay paypal fees) despite the extremely low mintage (around 7000). As many moder experts said recently , the FS series’s tiny mintage created some problem (relative mintage and valuation) for the Modern commerative gold coins.

  3. KEITHSTER says

    Good afternoon Mr Phelps say the mint cancelled my oct. 4 th. 10:35 am backorder for 2 WM. 5 ozers this morning! Your assignment should you deside to excecpt it is to find out if anyone did get a backorder on the WM’s before or after mine? Or why they were taking orders for many days after they sold out must be a few sad people out there who thought they had a chance with the backorder>? Oh well good luck to us the rest of the year:>

  4. thePhelps says

    Keithster…that is not good. Sorry to hear they did that to you. I suspect you are correct there are a lot of others who are probably equally disaponted.

  5. Smiledon says

    I would think that we have been seeing a shift in what people want to see being made along with what people wish to buy. I am not a fan of the GS silver coin, but I support what they do. I was in the Army, so I got the 5 star coins. Those 5 men lead this nation in the darkest time we faced in a long time. I am not looking forward to what is coming out next year because in my opinon, we have lost our way as a nation. Giving money to the baseball Hall of Fame? Oh well. Next is money to the UNCF. I have a problem using public money for some kid’s college education. I pay enough for state colleges already. Baseball did not make this nation great. The NFL did not make this nation great. NAACP did not make this nation great. Everyday people getting up going to work made this nation great. People who took the chance to ride a rocket, cut through the rock, dream reaching the stars are the ones that we need to be looking up to, and on a coin. I will get off my soap box now. Sorry if anyone is offended.

  6. says

    I wasn’t entirely thrilled with this year’s selection of commemoratives and thought the art was rather bland compared to prior years. I think the coin to have from this set is the proof silver five star generals coin – this is the first coin the US Mint made with its new laser tech and impressed me quite a lot.

    Don’t know if it will ever command a real premium, though.

    Looking forward to the baseball coins and 2014. Perhaps we will see this trend of shrinking sales finally reverse when those hit the market.

  7. Dustyroads says

    Smiledon~Well said, I applaud you, but you surely can agree that the selection for these coin designs is done by a panel whose main goal are to elect coin designs which have the greatest following, or resonate in the hearts of the most people. The decision process is a democratic one which is rooted in creating the most proceeds for the US Mint. We all who want the hobby to be as meaningful and descriptive of our journey as Americans who love our country should be alert to the idea that we may be moving away from what it means to be an American. Hopefully we will never see our great heritage forgotten by those who create the images who will be seen for countless years to come by people wanting to understand the American mindset. I believe FM may agree with me when I say, the words “IN GOD WE TRUST” best describes the American mindset, regardless of whatever else may be portrayed on our coinage. There you go, TPG’s, flippers, politicians, and finally God, am I missing anyone?

  8. thePhelps says

    Dusty – the GS coin was celebrated for being more European in style and I believe the comments were “there is hope this is the direction of future coins from the mint”. I seriously hope those who voted for it are not in the future selection process, because I think the coin is appallingly styled and of little real value to the coin collector.

    I also have a lot of 20 to 30 year old nieces and nephews. I am a bit concerned with your other beliefs that they envision the same country we grew up in. I had one niece tell me she was voting specifically for Obama only because she was sure Romney would eliminate gay marriages (yes she is and who cares). I had another niece tell me she was voting for Obama because she felt that it is time to eliminate capitalism – it is the destruction of our country and we need to embrace socialism as our future.

    These are the same kids who have absolutely no pensions, no 401k’s and little saved for their retirements…and are earning just about $10 an hour… they don’t see America like we have and are taught in college not to embrace our heritage at every turn by very liberal instructors.

  9. stephen m says

    I would think a $5 gold commemorative coin is too small for most collectors and not enough gold at only 22k. I would prefer a slightly larger coin or a .999 gold $5 coin or both. Would that not be a better choice for the mint. Any opinion or preference anyone?

  10. VARich says

    There’s some eloquent and articulate ideas expressed above which I happen to agree with, I really do.., though Gentleman, when it comes to these Commemoratives, let’s call a spade a spade.

    The sole purpose of these coins is to generate an alternate cash flow for the foundation, charity, organization, or private (tax sheltered, read HOF) 501c3 – period! The organizations that are lucky enough (and personally I think it’s like them winning the lottery) is that their hopes, dreams, and future rest on the revenue coming in from the sale of these coins. Right or wrong.., there it is! It’s all about the cash.

    For example, the SSB coin was a failure for the non profit Star Spangled 200. They received $3M from Comm sales though anticipated $8.5M – there’s articles out there on a lot of these Comm benefactor organization that are worth a quick gander. The Girl Scouts are beyond bankrupt – articles on that too, and so on. So these organizations really anticipate the cash flow generated from these coin sales.

    My point is this – these selection boards need to keep the intent of these coins in mind when selecting a design, and frankly, the vast majority of Americans do not know the first thing about these Commemoratives, much less appreciate coinage and it’s intrinsic value. So if the intent is to raise capital for non-profits, then who best to target for the purchase of these coins?

    In selecting a coin design, do you target the respective organization’s members, or do you target coin collectors (or both) as the most likely group to purchase the most number of coins?

    There’s been some real winners that appeal to both group, and there’s been some real losers that may appeal to members (perhaps) but certainly turn off collectors like us.

    Who and how to target in selecting a coin design is not my decision to make. Though by making an unappealing coin (by which I mean Politicalcrapness rules the day), I dare say these organizations are loosing out on upwards of 30-40k+ in coins sold to collectors.

    I guess in a long winded way, I’m trying to say these coins should capture the essence of America in the design, make the members proud, and appeal to coin collectors who are most likely to fund the cashflow generated from their sale.., they are not (the coins) a forum to make political statements or serve ideology agendas.., in my humble opinion. Amen it’s Friday! Peace out!

  11. fmtransmitter says

    Well said VARich. I picked up the Gold Proof $5 for few reasons, I had some extra cash at the time, enjoyed the subject matter, and I wanted to add ONE gold coin to the collection. I stick to silver even if I COULD afford to buy gold, I wouldn’t IMO. Not at these levels anyhow. If it ever went back down to $600 and ounce, which is what I think it is actually worth, I would consider getting in that game but with silver being industrial etc, I say keep stacking the shiny metal.

  12. fmtransmitter says

    BTW, if anyone else agrees, I am for HLS being banned for constant negative comments, horrible attitude, and a slew of other things I refuse to waste anymore time typing. IMHO of course…

  13. Buzz Killington says

    I have noticed that a lot of people seem to be dumping the Robinson Unc $5 and the CVC unc $5 on ebay. I don’t think those premiums are sustainable with the trend in declining mintages. The smart money holding onto these coins is now getting rid of them. Interesting.

    On another note, I think it is much more in keeping with American tradition to finally banish “god” from our coins, since our nation is explicitly free from religion, and while everyone is free to his own beliefs, the government shouldn’t be involved in it. If you folks really trusted in god, there would be no need for all of the griping. The idea of trusting in a god wasn’t on our paper money until the 1950s.

  14. Jerry Diekmann says

    Who or what is HLS? I can figure out some of the many abbreviations used on this website, but not all. Sorry.

  15. Leo S. says

    Just checked ebay regarding the list of lowest comm. coins of the past. It seems that there is very little interest in any of the Olympic coins or the Community Service. However the Leif Ericson and the Law Enforcement coins are getting bids. Looks like collectors like adventurers and policemen, so maybe the Generals have a chance and the Girl Scouts may be out of luck.

  16. Dustyroads says

    Buzz~I have tried to understand apart from religion what the term means. I think the way it should looked at is that money is imperfect, and is not the greatest of all things, and remembering that can help put it into context. I don’t think it is meant to be taken as a religious statement. As for God, because of the way we are constructed, we are subjected to natural laws which no one will ever be able to change. A person may bee able to say that God just sucks, but that is because of his point of view. What happens when generations pass by and all everyone in the family hears is that God sucks. I’ll tell you what happens, people gravitate towards others with the same opinion, and you can’t tell me that a free wheeling nation that thinks God sucks has a bright future.

  17. Tom says

    Just Trust in “buss”, Sure he’ll make the sun come round’.
    He Knows…yeah just wait and see…Uh…???

    Tick Tock… Probably Not!

  18. thePhelps says

    @Buzz…I think you are one of the growing number of people who believe our nation is “explicitly free from religion”. I believe your wrong with that belief.

    There appears to be some growing battle over the intent of the founding fathers insertion of “freedom of religion”, as it is today being interpreted as America should have no religion. If you read any European and American history you can see it was meant to be freedom to choose whatever religion you wanted. That is a classic example of the slanted liberal education our children are being taught these days. It is why we celebrate the holiday season, instead of Christmas, even though an overwhelming majority of Americans are Christian in their beliefs.

  19. says

    The real problem of the modern U.S. commemorative series has more to do with the members of Congress who introduce the bills that propose them. No doubt the organizations wanting a commemorative coin series cash cow are constituents of those legislators. All too often the bills contain strict but often capricious and arbitrary mandates as to the designs on them.(The Girl Scout commem is an example where a logo is slapped on one side of the coin). All too often the design parameters are so narrow as to leave little room for creative designs & so many coins end up as the usual head or heads and statutory inscriptions. The mintage limits in the bill are pure pie in the sky authorizations and never have any basis in reality as to what sales turn out to be. The baseball coin series is of three coins yet the same designs are repeated on all three.(Again dictated by the authorizing legislation). 3 different designs matches to the common baseball design would have made for a far more exciting offering to collectors. If it were up to me, I would have the proposed commem proposals to go through the CCAC and CFA first to get their opinion design approach and mintage limits. I seriously doubt that the members of Congress authoring the bills have any genuine aesthetics when it comes to numismatics and the design dictates are put in just to ease the task of getting the bills passed.

  20. Smiledon says

    Reading some of the posts others here are making seems to vaidate the point I wish to make. Opening the flood gate of honoring lesgilative acts is not the direction we should go. History will be our nation’s final judge; do we really want the future to see some of the “stuff” we honored? 6 years will mark 50 years since we landed on the moon. Any plans to honor that? What happened back in 1969 is letting us do what we are now doing. I just read Killing Jesus, and it is not hard for me to see history coming full circle now. Remember what JFK said about great men, and how we remember them?

  21. says

    2014 is the 150th anniversary (sesquicentennial) of the introduction of the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. It would have been great if a two dollar coin were issued that incorporated elements of the two cent piece where it first appeared. It could have been a piedfort (double thickness) standard silver dollar size. The coin could also have served as a Civil War commem which sadly was ignored for commemoration. A 150th anniversary coin for each of the 1861-1865 dates would have made for a great commem sub series for collectors.

  22. Mr. A says

    I tried purchasing some of the 5 star uncirculated generals but their condition was about the worst I’ve ever seen. They looked circulated or had way too many problems. Once again, the mint’s Quality Control failed. The proofs were better but not problem-free.

  23. Buzz Killington says

    thePhelps, sorry to have to say, you are just plainly wrong. Jefferson made it very clear, that the very first thing in the First Amendment, prohibiting Congress from respecting an establishment of religion (no indefinite article), was intended to erect a wall between church and state.

    It is also clear that Jefferson was not a Christian, but a deist, as was also Thomas Paine, just to mention two founding fathers.

    It is for this reason, among others, that enshrining the idea of trust in some god on our money is a national disgrace.

    Although I do take solace in the notion that, tens thousands of years ago, the most sophisticated cultures on the planet (Greeks, Romans, Indians in present day India) were all polytheists. Now the dominant cultures are monotheist. So, we keep getting nearer to the true number of gods all the time.

  24. stephen m says

    There are many gods and religions. They all lead to the same place or idea and are only different roads. “Quoted by James P. Sr.” Thanks to all for the very interesting feed back on the $5 gold commemorative.

  25. Ray says

    When u speak of poor quality on the 5 star general’s unc, are you speaking across the board? Clad? Silver? Or gold?

    I’m think of buying a unc 5 star set. Maybe I should buy them graded.

  26. says

    The motto “In God We Trust” came about ONLY during the depths of a devastating Civil War with no clear end or “winner” in sight. It probably came about as an expression of sentiment to counterbalance the despair at the time. In and of itself it has absolutely no connection with the original 1st amendment.
    Considering that the outcome of the Civil War resulted in preservation of the Union (at extremely high cost of life, Confederate and Union) I personally believe that maintaining the motto is a monument to their sacrifices, whether you believe in a higher power or not. For those people who adamantly persist with it being a sacrilege or imposition on atheist beliefs, well, don’t use paper money or coins at all. Pay for everything with a “too-big-to-fail” so-called “investment” bank’s credit card and in APR you can trust.

  27. thePhelps says

    Buzz we can argue semantics all day long. I believe most agree that many of the founding fathers did not embrace a religion. That doesn’t mean they thought others should also follow their beliefs, in fact it points out exactly what they thought should be the path for all of us… my beliefs are mine – yours are yours and neither should influence the leadership of the country.

    If you read the history books to actually look at the events in England surrounding the King and his policies and actions you see exactly how the Catholic church influenced many of the Kings decisions… that was exactly what the founding fathers did not want happening.

    You believe that meant the founding fathers didn’t want any religion. I believe they did not want religion involved in politics – and in positions of leading the people.I don’t believe separation of church and state meant there couldn’t be any religious celebrations at schools or even in our state and local buildings.

    I personally believe the removal of these things is rather narrow minded selfish by those who seek that path.

    Lastly – I am atheist-agnostic and don’t care. I find it ridiculous that others want to enforce their narrow views on the broader public. Celebrating Christmas doesn’t do it, denying someone the right to publicly do so does.

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