By Robert S. Matitia
In answer to your blog question: Why would anyone buy a clad proof set? This is such a great question and is in fact my conundrum as well.
I have long wondered the same thing regarding clad proof sets and also regarding “PD(S) mint sets.” As you noted, if history can be any indicator, the market price seems to fall quite significantly a few years after the issue year, and even more so a decade or more later as interest literally wanes.
Certainly there is a place for these types of sets to encourage children and newcomers to collect and save and learn about coins, however, the current year sets are very expensive, and when compared to the silver coinage, does it really pay to spend money on a devaluing interest income proposition when for only a few dollars more you can buy silver?
I did however purchase some proof and mint sets this year from the 1980s for holiday gifts and spent like $3 to $5 on each set. These are wonderful gifts to children or others new to the hobby to help them learn about the hobby. But are we tricking them into thinking that this “precious set” is really worth anything numismatically? Maybe so.
I think that the America the Beautiful clad quarter series and Presidential series are good examples of the U.S. Mint attempting to encourage collecting non-silver coins and putting them into coin folders. They even created their own ATB coin folder.
I often wonder however, does it make any sense to fill cheap coin folders or more expensive archival quality coin books with all of the complete sets in the series of PDS/clad S proof and silver S proof? Should we even bother filling in a book or folder anymore?
I have to say though that there is an unexplainable satisfaction and sense of accomplishment in filling in the holes in your book. But from an economic perspective, what about just collecting silver proof sets as a collection and as an investment? Do you leave it in the U.S. Mint plastic holder? Or put the coins into a quality coin book? Does anyone think that a complete set of PDS clad, S proof, and silver S proof will be worth anything other than face value plus silver melt for any silver in 20 years?
However, on the flip reverse side, we do see that there are plenty of modern coins that are not silver that are being submitted to the grading services to be graded and then are being sold at high premiums!
I think that the answer to your excellent question that the bottom line is that the hobby and economics of coin collecting is simply the economic law of supply and demand. As long as there is a demand for a particular coin, it will support the price based upon the supply.
We know the supply, those numbers are published by the U.S. Mint. We even may know graded supply, as that is known by the large grading services, but I don’t think anyone can know or predict the future demand for clad proof sets or mint sets that is all in the psyche of the human mind and influenced with the art of savvy marketing today and into the future.
So collect what you enjoy and can afford, because the beauty of a nice coin is an enjoyable “byte!”
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