The following is Beth Deisher's From the Memory Bank column from
the Sept. 28, 2015, issue of Coin World:
From the perspective of the Los Angeles and U.S. Olympic committees,
the commemorative coin program was always about money. Money, that is,
to help finance staging the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
In recognition of the need for funding, the authorizing legislation
allowed pre-issue coin sales, with surcharges of $10 for each silver
dollar and $50 for each gold $10 coin to be turned over to the Olympic
committees. The authorized mintage was 50 million total for 1983 and
1984 silver dollars and 2 million for the 1984 gold $10 coin. Had the
total 52 million coins been sold, the Olympic committees could have
received $600 million.
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Simultaneous to releasing preliminary design concepts for the three
coins on Oct. 14, 1982, Treasury officials also announced pricing and
details for pre-ordering the coins. They, too, had begun to grapple
with how to sell such large numbers of coins.
To create interest, Mint Director Donna Pope announced that a new
Mint mark would appear on the gold $10 coin. The Proof version would
be struck at West Point and the coin would bear a W Mint mark, even
though the West Point facility at the time was a bullion depository,
not a Mint.
While coin sales seemed robust initially, by summer 1983 they had
begun to plateau.
Much to Coinage Subcommittee Chairman Frank Annunzio’s chagrin,
Treasury officials found a way to expand his six-coin program to 13.
Annunzio had envisioned an Uncirculated and Proof version of each
coin. Treasury officials added Mint marks, creating 13 different
coins: Proof and Uncirculated versions of the two silver dollars
bearing San Francisco Mint marks and Uncirculated versions bearing
Philadelphia and Denver Mint marks. The W Mint mark appeared on both a
Proof and Uncirculated Olympic gold $10 coin, and Proof versions also
carried P, D, and S Mint marks.
A total of 5,045,474 Olympic coins were sold; $73.5 million was
raised in surcharges — far short of what Olympic planners had penciled
into their budget. However, the U.S. Mint had earned $10.3 million in
net profit and gained valuable experience in marketing commemorative coins.
Annunzio also had learned. Future legislation would designate which
facilities could strike commemorative coins, thereby limiting the
number to be sold.
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