By Everett Millman – Gainesville Coins ……….
The United States Mint has decided it will not release one of its premium items, the Limited Editions Silver Proof Set, in 2015. The product’s expected released was previously listed as “To Be Determined” on the mint’s website.
A combination of factors have contributed to the decision, from packaging delays and recent legislative changes.
The Limited Edition Silver Proof Sets, originally known as “Silver Premier Sets,” have been offered by the mint since 1992. They often included an impressive 11-coin arrangement, and in a way helped revive the U.S. Mint tradition of producing silver by offering 90% silver versions of its circulating coin designs. The sets are really the last remnants of the 90% pure “coin silver” standard in America, along with the silver commemorative coins. There are only one or two silver commemorative issues each year, however.
Today, the set includes an American Silver Eagle (as the de facto silver dollar coin), a silver half dollar, silver dime, and the silver America the Beautiful quarter designs released during the year. These are small, quarter-sized silver ATBs as opposed to the five-ounce silver bullion coins produced by the Mint. Because they are all proof coins, with reflective fields and frosted relief devices, these coins are also popular with collectors.
Initially, the Mint put its 2015 Limited Edition Silver Proof Sets on delay due to packaging problems. This pushed back their release date, but was unlikely to disrupt their eventual issuance, according to the Director of the Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications, Tom Jurkowsky.
“The Mint was working well towards resolving the packaging issue. However, because of the recently passed legislation, the product would not have been able to be offered in 2016. Accordingly, the decision was made to cancel the offering,” Jurkowsky said.
The legislation he refers to was actually to establish special 30th anniversary versions of the American Silver Eagle for 2016. (The series began in 1986.) Inadvertently, this legislation bars the Mint from issuing or selling any 2015-dated Silver Eagles next year; only the 30th anniversary coins can be issued. For this reason, the Mint decided that it would be pointless to distribute its 2015 silver proof sets so late in the year since the legislation prevents them from being sold after the calendar changes to 2016 (because the sets include this year’s Silver Eagle proofs). This contrasts with the Mint’s standard procedure of keeping certain backdated coins available for sale several months into the following year.
Today (December 14) is also the last day that this year’s Silver Eagles will be disbursed by the Mint, and no more will be produced this year. American Silver Eagles already surpassed their annual sales record, the third straight year the coin has done so.
The 30th anniversary ASEs will feature smooth edges–rather than the customary reeded design–to accommodate edge inscriptions. This is the first time this device has been used in the Silver Eagle series, although it has been employed by the Mint for Gold Eagle, silver America the Beautiful, and Presidential dollar coins in the past.
Collectors and silver investors alike will be disappointed if they were counting on receiving a Limited Edition silver proof set as a holiday gift this year. With considerable demand for physical silver, the U.S. Mint (along with its international counterparts) has struggled to meet investors’ expectations throughout the year. This has resulted in many production delays, and the silver proof sets falling by the wayside is just one more example.