1988 Olympics (Seoul) Gold $5 Coin NGC MS-70


This U.S. Olympic coin was unveiled at the Denver Mint on May 2, 1988, by Katherine D. Ortega, Treasurer of the United States, and Donna Pope, Director of the United States Mint. Congress authorized this coin to support the training of American athletes participating in the 1988 Olympic Games.


The 1988 Olympic $5 Gold Coin was issued to commemorate the participation of the United States in the 1988 Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea. This gold coin was issued in addition to a silver dollar.

The obverse design of the gold coin by Elizabeth Jones is a favorite of many collectors. It depicts Nike, the goddess of Victory, in a crown of olive leaves. The word “Liberty” appears across the neckline, with the date “1988” in the left field. A ribbon intertwined with the crown carried the words “In God We Trust”.

The reverse of the coin designed by Marcel Jovine features a stylized Olympic flame with the Olympic rings above containing “USA”. Inscriptions below the image read “United States of America”, “Five Dollars”, and “E Pluribus Unum”. Although there is great appreciation for the obverse design, some feel that the modernistic depiction on the reverse makes an incongruous combination.

The maximum authorized mintage for the 1988 Olympics Gold Coin was established by law at one million pieces. Both proof and uncirculated versions of the coin were struck at the West Point Mint and carried the “W” mint mark. The US Mint offered the coins at a discount during a pre-issue period before regular pricing went into effect. Two and four coin sets were offered incorporating the silver dollar coins.

NGC Coin Grading Scale

NGC uses the internationally accepted Sheldon grading scale of 1 to 70, which was first used in the United States in the late 1940s. This scale was adopted by NGC when it began operations in 1987 and is considered to be the industry standard. Below are NGC’s grading standards for each numeric grade as well as major strike types and designations.

What is a 70?

NGC defines a Mint State or Proof 70 coin as having no post-production imperfections at 5x magnification.

Strike Type

NGC uses two-letter codes before a coin’s numeric grade to describe its method of production and overall appearance. The most common are MS for Mint State coins (those struck for circulation) and PF for Proof coins (those struck for collectors). Another strike type is SP for Specimen, which describes a coin that falls short of the definition for actual Proofs but are superior to the normal currency issues.

MS Mint State. Coins struck in the same format as circulation issues. Applies to grades 60 to 70.
PF Proof. Coins struck in a special format for collectors.
SP Specimen. A hybrid between Mint State and Proof.

Numeric Grades

NGC uses a numeric grade to succinctly describe a problem-free coin’s condition. The available numeric grades range from 1 to 70 based on an internationally recognized scale developed in the 1940s. As the numeric grade increases, a coin’s condition is considered to be better. Some numbers are skipped below the grade of 60, which is the threshold for a coin to be considered Uncirculated.

MS/PF 70 A coin with no post-production imperfections at 5x magnification.
MS/PF 69 A fully struck coin with nearly imperceptible imperfections.
MS/PF 68 Very sharply struck with only miniscule imperfections.
MS/PF 67 Sharply struck with only a few imperfections.
MS/PF 66 Very well struck with minimal marks and hairlines.
MS/PF 65 Well struck with moderate marks or hairlines.

Plus & Star

NGC uses the Plus (+) and Star () designations to distinguish coins at the high end of their assigned grade and/or with exceptional eye appeal for their assigned grade. All coins are evaluated for the Plus and Star designations as part of the normal NGC coin grading process, and they are assigned automatically for no additional fee.

+ (NGC Plus Designation) NGC assigns a plus sign to coins at the high end of their assigned grade, approaching the quality requirements for the next grade. For example, a coin graded NGC MS 64 is close to the quality of a coin graded NGC MS 65.
(NGC Star Designation) NGC assigns its trademarked Star Designation to coins with exceptional eye appeal for their assigned grade.

Strike Characters

Strike characters are used to describe how well an area of a coin is struck and when information is of specific interest to collectors. For example, strike characters can describe the degree of red luster on a copper coin’s surface (BN, RB and RD), the degree of contrast on a Proof coin (Cameo and Ultra Cameo) or other distinctive features, such as FB for Full Bands on a Mercury Dime.