1989 Congress Bicentennial Gold $5 Coin NGC MS-70


The United States Congressional coin was first struck on June 14, 1989 at a ceremony outside of the Capitol. It commemorates the Bicentennial of the U.S. Congress.


The 1989 Congress $5 Gold Coin was offered along with a clad half dollar and silver dollar to mark the 200th anniversary of the operation of Congress under the US Constitution. The three coins featured images of the Capitol building, Capitol dome, or the Freedom statue which rests atop the dome. All coins featured a dual date with the anniversary dates.

On the obverse of the gold coin, a view of the Capitol dome is featured. On the inscription “Liberty” above, the letter “Y” appears transposed, as the shading was done on the wrong side of the letter. The remaining inscriptions include “In God We Trust” and “1798-1989”. The reverse design features the majestic eagle in the old Senate chamber. Inscriptions include “Bicentennial of the Congress”, “United States of America”, “E Pluribus Unum”, and “Five Dollars”. Both the obverse and reverse were designed by John Mercanti.

The Congress Bicentennial $5 Gold Coins were available in both proof and uncirculated versions struck at the West Point Mint. The coins were sold individually or as part of a three coin proof set, three coin uncirculated set, or comprehensive six coin set. The maximum authorized mintage was set at a lofty one million 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.