100 Greatest U.S. Modern Coins Series: 2016 Centennial Gold Coins

When you think about some of the most beloved modern gold coins, we bet you think about the three we are going to cover next from Whitman Publishing’s 100 Greatest United States Modern Coins compilation. Among many other things happening in the year 2016 inside and outside of the numismatic hobby, this was one of the most highly anticipated events occurring from the United States Mint. With authors Scott Schechter and Jeff Garrett, we will take a closer look at the coins themselves and look back on their releases.

#37 – 2016 Centennial Gold Coins

One of the biggest draws and successes to the 2016 Centennial Gold Coins was the repurposing of old (and beloved) designs and presenting them to collectors with what authors Schechter and Garrett call “nostalgia.” While honoring the past, the United States Mint decided that they were going to celebrate the coins’ 100th anniversary by producing three gold coins: the Mercury or Winged Liberty Dime (1916-1945), Standing Liberty Quarter (1916-1930), and Walking Liberty Half Dollar (1916-1947).

All the coins were struck at West Point and offered individually in an Uncirculated condition. The Mint divulged that the die pairs used were wire brushed and struck fewer than 2,000 coins, contributing to their uniform look. They also have matte-like finishes which then prompted the grading companies to use a “SP” prefix instead of the “MS.”

Their appearance satisfied collectors, but the size differences to the original coins were a major complaint. Using .9999 fine gold planchets that were created for the American Gold Buffalo, the Mint struck the gold coins slightly smaller than the originals. The gold dime was 15.0 mm (about 0.59 in) instead of the standard 16.5mm (about 0.65 in) diameter of a real dime. The Standing Liberty quarter was just 22.0 mm (about 0.87 in) compared to 24.3 mm (about 0.96 in) and the Walking Liberty was 27.0 mm (about 1.06 in) instead of the 30.6 mm (about 1.2 in) that was used for the original issue.

According to authors Schechter and Garrett, the ordering process may have hindered the final result of the coins’ ultimate success in 2016. While they were successful by any standard definition, the coins did not immediately sell out after the issues with the Mercury dime gold coin. The dime was set at 125,000 for the mintage limit with the household limit set at 10. They went on sale and after 40 minutes, they were sold out. Collectors did indeed complain feeling as they lost out to “speculators.” The Mint wanted to correct this issue by the next release of the Standing Liberty quarter gold coin. The mintage limit was set to 100,000 with a household limit of just one. The new limits did not result in a sellout with the household limit ultimately being lifted. The same happened with the Walking Liberty half dollar gold coin (the final coin in the series). The mintage was set at 70,000 with a household limit of three. The Mint did not sell out and lifted their limit restrictions per household.

This entry was brand new when Whitman Publishing published this fourth edition (2017).