Because expensive rarities often capture headlines, it might be easy to assume that the only coins worth collecting are pricey.
Of course this is not true. This month our cover feature looks at the world of modern U.S. commemorative coins during its first 15 years. At first, I intended for it to be a broad overview as the modern program settles into its fourth decade, but the scope was narrowed to accommodate the rich stories behind the individual issues that show the program’s struggles and its triumphs.
The first 15 years of the commemorative coin program in the United States is one that fits cleanly into a classic storytelling pattern. It started off modestly in 1982 with a single program of broad interest. From there it slowly expanded for nearly the next decade until 1991, when a few unpopular issues brought increased scrutiny to the program.
Then, it exploded, coming to its climax with the 32-coin program for the 1996 Olympic Games held in Atlanta.
Reform came swiftly, and that the commemorative program continues today, now limited to two programs per year, is a testament to collectors who said that they’d had enough of multiple programs of limited interest.
Many commemorative silver dollars and gold $5 and $10 pieces can be purchased near their bullion levels, making the series wonderfully accessible.
William T. Gibbs looks at another popular and affordable issue that caused a stir in the mid-1990s: the 1995 Lincoln, Doubled Die Obverse cent. These cents are still occasionally located in circulation, but if you’re not that patient, they’re widely available in attractive Mint State condition for less than $40.
Also this month, columnist Q. David Bowers presents an offer that might get you to take a closer look at the modern coins in your collection. He’ll donate $1,000 in your name to one of three nonprofit coin organizations if you can find a Mint State example of a 1975-D Jefferson 5-cent piece with an unusually placed Mint mark.
Happy searching! And, thank you for making Coin World a part of your autumn.
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