United States Mint Olympic Coins

Within the first half of the modern commemorative coin era, the United States Mint issued Olympic coins with regularity. These coins would highlight the Olympic Games held within an American city or simply the participation of American athletes within the Games. This culminated with the massive program for the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta, which included 16 different coins in proof and uncirculated versions. After this point, the next coin program would not occur until 2002 for the Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City, with no other programs in the past decade.

After the massive program in 1995-1996, legislation was passed which limited the number of commemorative coin programs to only two per year. This change in law, combined with negative collector sentiment surrounding the 32-coin program, seem to be the reasons for the lack of subsequent US Mint Olympic coins. While there have been no new issues, there are still plenty to draw on from the past, so I wanted to devote a post to highlighting some of the US Mint’s past Olympic Commemorative Coins which carry some unique aspect.

The 1983 Olympic Silver Dollar depicted a traditional Greek discus thrower, designed by Elizabeth Jones and inspired by the work of Myron. The double outline around the figure is intended to create the impression of motion. The reverse includes the head and upper body of an eagle. A massive maximum authorized mintage of 50 million coins was established across the 1983 and 1984 silver dollars. These coins are widely available and affordable, but hold a place of importance as the first US Mint Olympic coin and the first commemorative silver dollar issued since 1900.

I have previously mentioned the 1988 Olympic $5 Gold Coin issued for the Seoul Olympiad as one of my favorite modern commemorative coin designs. The obverse is designed by Elizabeth Jones and features Nike, the goddess of Victory, wearing a crown of olive leaves. The reverse design features a stylized Olympic flame by Marcel Jovine, which is a bit of a contrast with the classical design of the obverse. A mintage of 281,465 proofs and 62,913 uncirculated coins keeps this issue readily available for collectors.

The 1992 Olympic Silver Dollar was issued to mark the XXV Olympic Games held in Barcelona, Spain and Albertville and Savoie, France. This issue is interesting in that the baseball pitcher depicted on the obverse bears a very close resemblance to Nolan Ryan. Side by side with the 1991 Fleer baseball card shown above, the similarities are almost undeniable. Nonetheless, the designer of the coin John R. Deeken denied that there was any connection.

Another interesting aspect of this issue is that it features edge lettering of “XXV Olympiad” which repeats four times over the reeded edge. I believe that this was the first and only time that edge lettering has been used for a US Mint commemorative coin.

Out of the 32 coins issued for the 1996 Summer Olympics held in Atlanta, the uncirculated 1996 Paralympics Silver Dollar had the lowest mintage at just 14,497 pieces. This also represents the lowest mintage silver dollar across all modern commemoratives, and it seems likely that this will continue to remain the case. The obverse of the coin depicts an athlete in a wheelchair competing in a track and field event. The reverse design was used for all silver dollars within the program and includes the Atlanta Committee for the Olympics Games logo.

The 2002 Olympic $5 Gold Coin was the most recent Olympic coin issued by the US Mint, along with a silver dollar included in the program. These coins were issued for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The design by Donna Weaver is more abstract than typically seen on US coins. The obverse features the emblem of the games, which consists of an ice crystal and the sun rising over a mountain, formed by overlapping geometric shapes. The reverse features the Olympic flame rendered in similar fashion with a jagged series of conjoined shapes at the bottom.


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Comments

  1. Brad says

    Regarding that 1992 baseball coin, the Nolan Ryan card is exactly what the engraver must have used to design that coin. I guess he had to deny it, though. But come on. Really? 🙂

  2. says

    One of these days I hope to pick up the 1988 gold coin. It’s an excellent piece. I’m a little surprised they didn’t do any Olympic coins this year, though.

  3. Dan says

    nice little write up thanks- the unc SLC gold commem is the most undervalued coin of the mod commems

  4. Billrod says

    I bought four coins from the Atlanta Olympics – the four $5.00 Unc gold coins. All have been certified by NGC as MS-70. Check current prices. Good investments !!

  5. Hidalgo says

    A change in subject…

    I received my two San Francisco ASE sets today. They are really nice. When the US Mint sent out its survey about packaging and the type of collectible coins the public wants, it’s clear that they listened.

    As a collector, I’m quite pleased.

  6. Richard W says

    This blog brought me digging in my safe.I bought the 83-84 set which included the 83 & 84 dollars and the 10 dollar gold.I image the $10 gold gives this set a good bit of value.Does anyone know how many of these set actually sold.I do like the depiction of the Great Eagles.

  7. simon says

    Richard : (needs checking but these are “unofficial values”

    1983-P Olympic Silver Unc Dollar 294,543
    1983-D Olymipc Silver Unc Dollar 174,014
    1983-S Olympic Silver Unc Dollar 174,014
    1983-S Olympic Silver Prf Dollar 1,577,025

    1984-P Olympic Silver Unc Dollar 217,954
    1984-D Olympic Silver Unc Dollar 116,675
    1984-S Olympic Silver Unc Dollar 116,675
    1984-S Olympic Silver Prf Dollar 1,801,210

    1984-W Olympic $10 Gold Unc. 75,886
    1984-P Olympic $10 Gold Prf. 33,309
    1984-D Olympic $10 Gold Prf. 34,533
    1984-S Olympic $10 Gold Prf. 48,551
    1984-W Olympic $10 Gold Prf. 381,085

    I keep dreaming that when I have the $$$$ I will get a full set in OGP only.

  8. POP says

    Thanks for the info. Is it time for Congress to increase the restrictive two commems a year mandate? I think YES. We should have Olympic coins available for every Olympiad. Love the Buffalos – but – how many years in a row do I want the same coin with a different date. Time to change (at least the reverse) of the AE gold coin and make it 24 K.

  9. Richard W says

    Simon,Thank you,looks like i have the big numbers,both silver proof dollars are carrying the S mark and the $10 gold proof is W.Although still a nice set.Thanks again Simon.

  10. hi ho silver says

    LMAO !! “unofficial values” From 1984 ?? When will they be official ?? 2084 ?lol.

  11. ClevelandRocks says

    @Jon in CT: The whole Making American History 220th anniversary set is the most contrived thing I’ve ever seen the Mint do ever. What a joke. I’m not interesred in collecting random paper money and already got my S-ASE coins from the “limited time offering” SO what exactly are they trying to pull over us?

  12. William says

    Sorry, as this is way off topic, but did anyone see the scammers at HSN selling the S-ASE set for $430? I just kept shaking my head as I saw the counter indicating 200+ sets had been sold…..

  13. hi ho silver says

    On the Mints site it states initial mintage for MAH set is 50000 with an established mintage of 100000. What a bunch of yoyos. I can see 2012 s mint proof ASEs for sale at Xmas.

  14. Hidalgo says

    I have always felt that the 2012 reverse proof ASE coin would be more in demand than the “regular” 2012 proof coin. However, because everyone had a fair chance to order the anniversary set for weeks, there should be a relatively low mark up in the secondary value of these sets.

    I’ve noticed that when mintages are low and/or there is a rapid/unexpected sellout of a US Mint collectible, then secondary market values increase significantly. Buyers who failed to order the collectible before it sold out now want it. That in turn increases demand and drives up secondary market values.

  15. Dursch says

    Off topic: I just received my two San Francisco ASE sets. One is great, but the quality on the other one is horrible. The background of the reverse proof is speckled and the proof has two noticeable nicks in the mirrored background. I am not usually that picky, but at $75 a coin I would prefer not to see significant flaws with my naked eye. I will call the mint tomorrow to confirm, but is it possible to get a replacement set? Micheal?

  16. William says

    I also got my two San Francisco sets last week.

    Both sets looked good but one coin plastic container was open.

    Are these plastic holders meant to open so easily?

    Loose as a goose in Arizona…

  17. Fosnock says

    @William – Its not suppose to happen but it does all the time. The top of the air-tight on the SF reverse proof popped off but fortuitously the coin did not get out of the holder. I had a rattler with one of the 25th anniversary issues so I would say this is quite common. Its funny how I don’t have this issue with the Perth Mint, ATBs or the Pandas. I would understand if the whole airtight got lose but don’t understand why the tops keep popping off…if the mint reads this blog maybe in the future they can pack the coins separately and the customer can add it to the collectors box as it is obvious that the airtights can’t keep the coins safe.

  18. TomP says

    Off Topic:

    The Lucy Hayes First Spouse gold unc. sold out. With a last week sales total of 2152, this will set a new low for the F.S. series.

  19. Brad says

    Tom P,

    Yeah, I just saw that myself. I ordered two more last week after it went on backorder. I hope I get them!

  20. TomP says

    Brad,

    I saw your post last week on the backorder status change. Good catch since I found it surprising with the much higher mintage sold on the previous Grant F.S. An adjustment down by the Mint for mintage totals may also be reflected for the Garfield unc. F.S.

  21. Hidalgo says

    FS mintages are like playing the stock market — you never know what the lowest mintages will be… LOL!

  22. Brad says

    Tom P,

    Yeah, I wondered if anyone had seen that post. No one replied, so I thought maybe no one really cared after all. I figured I’d call attention to it so anyone here who might not have seen it could place a quick order before it was gone! Did you buy any?

  23. TomP says

    Brad,

    No, I didn’t pick up any more after my purchase of one each of the proof & unc. at the initial offering. I just like to keep track of the mintage totals and the sales closures. Was keeping my powder saved for the next releases minus the Alice Paul.

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