By Ron Drzewucki – Modern Coin Wholesale …..
Finding that first Lincoln Wheat cent or Mercury dime in pocket change.
Finishing your first coin folder.
Making your first trade.
No matter how experienced you are or how sophisticated your tastes become, many collectors look back at such milestones with a wistful nostalgia (and not a little longing).
Your first Mint Set is one of these moments.
Mint Sets (and Proof Sets) are wonderful ways to introduce someone to the hobby. They make a powerful impression because they tie together a specific place and time in a person’s life with patriotic feeling and real, practical value. It’s the sense of something important, something grounded in a larger community, being passed down from one generation to the next. No one forgets the person that gave them that first blue box or cellophane wrapper full of coins.
Of course, there are other reasons for buying a Proof or Mint Set. Many people like to buy them and cherry-pick the best individual pieces. These coins may then be submitted to Third Party Graders (TPGs) for certification, which can sometimes net the collector a nice return on their initial investment.
But before we go any further, we should explain what “Mint” and “Proof” Sets actually are.
A Mint Set is made up of coins of every denomination produced by each mint for a given year. The coins are uncirculated business strikes, and–up until 2005–no special thought was given to the quality of any one specimen. In 2005, the Mint started to take Mint Sets more seriously and improved the quality of the coins.
Proof Sets are different. They contain coins manufactured in special ways to better please the eye. Dies are polished and planchets are treated. The piece itself is frequently struck twice with greater pressure than a regular business strike Raised areas are sharp and often frosted. The field is usually mirror-like.
The United States began selling Proof coins in sets in 1955, a practice which has continued to this day–with the exception of 1965, ‘66, and ‘67. Those years saw the changeover to clad coinage, and no Proof Sets were issued. Instead, Special Mint Sets were produced, made up of higher quality coins than the usual Mint Set.
Additionally, no Mint Sets were sold in 1982 and ‘83. However, Souvenir Sets–sets of coins produced at an individual mint in a certain year and wrapped in cellophane like Mint Sets–were still made during those years.
Customers have a few other options when it comes to Proof Sets, as well:
“Prestige” Proof Sets were produced between 1983 and 1997. They came in special deluxe packaging and included select commemorative coins from the year of manufacture.
Silver Proof Sets contain 90% silver versions of that year’s dime, quarter and half dollar. Starting in 1999 with the 50 State Quarters program, the number of coins in a Silver Proof Set varies from year to year. Silver Proof Sets also contain dollar coins, though they aren’t rendered in silver.
“Premier” Sets were sold from 1992 to 1998. A Premier Set is a silver proof set (meaning dimes, quarters, and half dollars were struck on 90% silver planchets) housed in special deluxe packaging.