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Modern Commems

Modern commemorative coins, also known as modern commems, are special-issue collectible coins issued by U.S. Mints beginning in 1982. When this program was started, it was decided that all of the marketing would be done by the government in order to avoid some of the questions that had plagued earlier commemorative coin programs. When local committees or private interest groups had been responsible for the marketing, it had lead to questions about what had happened to the profits from the coins sold. With the government taking over this part of the process, it became possible for a full accounting of how the profits were used to be tracked.

Modern commems, like proof sets and mint sets, are noted for their numismatic value above and beyond their bullion content. Most modern commem programs will include a variety of different coins. For example, a program might include a silver half dollar, a gold $10, and two silver dollars.

$.50 Modern Commems

The first coin in to be considered a modern commem was the 1982 George Washington half dollar. These coins were minted in a proof edition produced at San Francisco and a Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) edition produced at Denver. Half dollar modern commems can be a good place for numismatists with a limited budget to start because they tend to have lower costs than their higher denomination relatives. However, the issue of half dollar modern commems has been rather sporadic, and most new runs don’t include a half dollar coin.

$1 Modern Commems

The silver dollar is the silver denomination most likely to be included in modern commem programs. With the exception of programs that include only a gold coin, it is safe to assume that there will probably be a silver dollar in every new program, resulting in a couple of new coins each year. Not surprisingly, they tend to be more expensive than their half dollar counterparts but more affordable than the higher denomination gold coins. Interestingly, the price of modern silver dollars does not always relate closely to their mintages.

$5 Modern Commems and $10 Modern Commems

The $5 and $10 gold modern commemorative coins (including the single gold and platinum alloy Library of Congress $10 coin issued in 2000) are, of course, the most expensive group of modern commems. Not all modern commem programs have had both a $5 and a $10 gold coin, but most of them have had at least one gold coin as part of the collection.

Unlike modern silver dollars, the price of gold modern commems tends to follow their mintages quite closely. Those issued prior to 1995 were minted in higher numbers and can often be found for more affordable prices. Beginning in 1995, falling collector demand resulted in scarcer issues.

Those coins with scarcer issues tend to sell for above and beyond their issue price. Other than the bimetallic 2000 Library of Congress $10 coin, the most expensive modern gold coin tends to be the Jackie Robinson BU $5, which had a mintage of just under 5,000 coins.

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