Coin Specifications

Category: Modern Commemoratives (1982-Date)
Mint: West Point
Mintage: 21,772
Catalog: KM-277
Obverse Designer: Alfred Maletsky
Reverse Designer: T. James Ferrell
Composition: Gold
Fineness: 0.9000
Weight: 8.36g
AGW: 0.2419oz
Melt Value: $297.10 (5/26/2016)
Diameter: 21.6mm
Edge: Reeded
Numismatic specification data provided by Krause Publications NumisMaster.
Link to this coin

1996 W SMITHSON $5 PF obverse 1996 W SMITHSON $5 PF reverse


  
Expand All    Collapse All

VarietyPlus®

There are no NGC varieties for this coin.

Description & Analysis

When James Smithson died in 1829, he bequeathed most of his fortune to the United States of America, a country he had never visited. Evidently an admirer of our nation’s founding principles, Smithson declared that this money be used to establish an institution “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Some years went by while his other heirs and the British government protested this donation, but the money was ultimately transmitted to the USA in 1838. Paid in gold sovereigns bearing that date, two of these historic pieces are today preserved within the Smithsonian Institution’s National Numismatic Collection in Washington, DC.

This numismatic division of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History was among the intended recipients of surcharges applied to the two-coin program approved by Congress to mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Institution in 1846. Called for were uncirculated and proof editions of both a silver dollar and a gold half eagle. The fact that some of the coin collecting community’s purchasing dollars would go toward the National Numismatic Collection was expected to bring about higher than usual sales, but this ultimately proved to be an illusion.

One of the more attractive coins within the modern commemorative series, the Smithsonian Silver Dollar features on its obverse a charming view of the “Castle,” a structure erected in the Gothic Revival style and which once housed the entire institution. Today it is used mostly for administrative offices and conferences. Laurel branches flank this view at either side, with the inscription “Smithsonian 1846—1996” appearing below. The initials of Mint artist Thomas D. Rogers, Sr. are at the stem of the left branch, with the coin’s mintmark appearing beside the stem of the right branch. Statutory mottoes balance this design at the top.

U. S. Mint Sculptor-Engraver John Mercanti furnished the reverse model, which portrays an allegorical female figure perched atop a globe of the world. She holds in her right hand an inscribed scroll and in her left the torch of knowledge. To the right of this figure are the words of James Smithson: “FOR THE INCREASE AND DIFFUSION OF KNOWLEDGE.” Mercanti’s initials are at left above the horizon, while purely statutory legends complete this side of the coin.

The half eagle is an equally appealing coin, though simpler in execution. Al Maletsky of the U. S. Mint sculpted a bust of Smithson facing left, with the subject’s name appearing below it. The dual dates of commemoration are to the left of the bust, with Smithson’ famous declaration above it. Statutory mottoes complete this side. The reverse is likewise by a Mint staff artist, T. James Ferrell, and it features the classical sun logo of the Smithsonian Institution. The name “SMITHSONIAN” is placed below the logo, with Ferrell’s initials to the right. All of these elements are framed within a circle, and around this are the statutory legends.

Uncirculated examples of the silver dollar were coined at Denver, while Philadelphia produced the proofs. Both editions of the gold half eagle were struck at the West Point Mint in New York State.

For a program that should have had the full support of the numismatic community behind it, the Smithsonian Institution coins produced shockingly low net sales. Only the silver dollar faired reasonably well, posting totals slightly higher than those of that same year’s National Community Service Silver Dollar. It seems likely that coin buyers were simply suffering from overload as a result the massive Olympic program of 1995-96. The fact that previous modern commemorative coins were then selling at or below issue price did not encourage collectors to buy extra coins for future resale. Today, all four varieties of the Smithsonian coins are quite scarce.

GRADE SUMMARY

Loading... Working...

Use the scroll bar at the bottom of this box to view a summary of the NGC Price Guide, NGC Census, Auction Prices Realized and NGC Registry Scores for each grade.

There was no data found for this Coin.

Select Designation

 
NGC PRICE GUIDE
NGC CENSUS*
AUCTION PRICES REALIZED
NGC REGISTRY
SCORE

Select Grade

*To view the Census details for this coin, please sign in or sign up.

Price Guide

Last Updated: 9/26/2014

Click on a price to see historical prices, comparison charts and trends.

1996 W SMITHSON $5 PF Ultra Cameo
  GVGFVFXF5053555861626364656667686970
Base $ - - - - - - - - - 381 382 383 384 385 386 388 390 420 1090

NGC Price and Value Guides Disclaimer

Census

 
NGC GRADE SUMMARY

Total Graded: 1293
Low Grade: 64
Average Grade: 69
High Grade: 70


Upcoming Auctions


Auction Prices Realized

A random selection of coins is shown below.

Images
Date
Service
Grade
Auction House
Sale / Lot
Price
4/22/2008 NGC PF 69   Ultra Cameo Heritage Auctions 2008 April Rosemont, IL US Coin Final Session #1105, 1105/Lot# 9895 $402.50
1/17/2010 PCGS PF 70   Ultra Cameo Teletrade Auction 2798, 2798/Lot# 2261 $1,150.00
4/15/2010 NGC PF 70   Ultra Cameo David Lawrence Rare Coins Thursday - Internet Auction # 471, 477/Lot# 5847 $747.50
9/19/2010 NGC PF 70   Ultra Cameo Goldberg September 19-21, 2010 Pre-Long Beach Coin Auction, 60/Lot# 3448 $504.00
6/14/2011 NGC PF 70   Ultra Cameo Stack's Bowers The June 2011 Baltimore Auction, 92/Lot# 668 $402.50
9/11/2011 NGC PF 69   Ultra Cameo GreatCollections GreatCollections Coin Auctions 09/11/2011, 135/Lot# 16659 $451.00


NGC Registry

NGC Registry Score 1996 W SMITHSON $5 PF
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base62765067469972375678180983786789692692893093193393393593894111461719
635658682707734764790818847877906927929930932933934936939100913370
000000790818847877906927929930932933934936939100900
000000800828857886916927929931932933934937940107800
1996 W SMITHSON $5 PF Cameo
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base67069571974577281184086889893096199199399499699799910011004100712231821
678703728754785821849878909940971992993995996998100010021005107914220
000000849878909940971992993995996998100010021005107900
000000859888919951981992994995997998100010031006115100
1996 W SMITHSON $5 PF Ultra Cameo
 PrAgGVGFVF4045505355586061626364656667686970
Base66368671373776479180481882683183884687590693596799910331066160923353281
670695721746773795808820827833840855885915945977101010441247185126500
000000808820827833840855885915945977101010441247185100
000000813823829835843865895925956988102110551428209300
Registry Image Gallery
Grade: PF 70 ULTRA CAMEO
Points: 3281
Owner: J.D.A.
 
Grade: PF 70 UC
Points: 3281
Owner: RHF
 
View the Registry Image Gallery

Related Articles

There are no related articles for this coin.

NGC Auction Central Disclaimer