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Chasing proof sets?

There seems to be growing interest in the 2012 proof sets because of their fairly low mintages.

I have had a number of inquiries about the clad proof set and silver proof set of that year.

Will they go higher in value?

That is the eternal question.

Rather than answer, my mind harkens back to my early days in numismatics.

When I was a new collector in the 1960s, the hobby was going through tumultuous times.

The end of silver in coinage was a great shock to those who had long engaged in circulation finds to fill out their collections.

What does one do when the main source of one’s coins disappears?

Many left the hobby.

Many others turned to the annual spectacle of new Mint issues when its task of combating the coin shortage was won and it retunre in 1968 to offering collector proof sets and mint sets as it had done in 1964.

With the proof spigot having been shut off after the 1964 set, there was speculation that this set would soar to $50 as the last example of proof coinage.

It never got there, but the thought that a set with 3.9 million mintage could rise to $50 was my introduction to the idea of making money in proof sets.

I did not stumble upon this until after the ordering period for the 1968 set had closed.

If nothing else, that taught me to pay attention to the hobby calendar.

Speculative fever hit the 1968 set. After the wave of collector complaints about the higher $5 issue price, compared to the $2.10 price for the 1964 set, collectors embarked on a speculative frenzy.

In those days it took the U.S. Mint far longer to deliver sets to collectors than it does now. In fact, it was the better part of a year.

If your order for one of the approximately 3 million sets was at the end of the line, you could watch speculation unfold. That’s all.

If you got early delivery, and sold, you made money. Prices went up.

When the price reached $15, I could not resist any longer, I had to have a set before it went beyond my budget. I bought one on the retail market.

Bad move.

Why did I buy it?

I bought it because everyone else seemed to want one. I wasn’t going to be left behind.

Retail prices continued higher, reaching $20 a set.

But then the sky fell.

I was soon under water.

Well, I reasoned, I am a collector. I will simply hold on.

Eventually the price fell below issue price.

What lesson did I learn?

Don’t chase a set on the secondary market.

There is nothing more stale than last year’s proof set.

I may be a collector, but I do not like holding something to avoid taking a loss.

So what about the 2012 proof sets?

I know from my own experience that the impulse to speculate is a strong one.

Every collector has to indulge it or harness it in his own way.

Just know that my opinion about 2012 proof sets carries as much weight as my opinion about 1968 proof sets.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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2 Responses to Chasing proof sets?

  1. schnauzer says:

    For the longest time the 1995 Silver Proof Set had been the lowest minted silver set in quite awhile. Then the 2010 was lower. The 2011 was lower yet. So in 2012, the mint cuts off sales early and now it’s the lowest minted silver set.
    Several people on a popular internet coin forum went nuts. Nuts. Trying to get their hands on, not only the 2012 Silver Proof Set, but also the Clad Proof Sets. Prices soared into the $120-150 range. I’m sure this frenzy was not limited to just those many folks on coin forums, but many collectors everywhere. Manufacturer cuts off product, thus creating panic, thus creating outrageous prices on the secondary market, thus creating higher profit margins for sellers. Interesting. Seems like alot of folks are profiting here. I wonder if the collector in a few years, will say he profited from obtaining some of these sets. I doubt it. I’m just scared of gambling on modern issue coins and sets from the mint. Won’t do it. I’m quite content going to shows and my local coin shop and purchasing Morgans, Peace dollars, Walking Liberty Halves, Mercs and Barbers and admiring them at home. All on a limited budget.
    I’ve always thought that the key coins in modern silver proof sets were the dime and the half. All the other coins in the set are available through other offerings the mint had put together. Bags, rolls, etc. But not the dime and half. They were only made available to collectors by getting the silver proof set. So even some collectors who knew about the dime and half being the key coins in a silver proof set, still swooped up as many 2012 Silver Proof Sets that they could afford. All the while forgetting about the newly announced “Limited Edition Silver Proof Set” that the mint had been planning on releasing and currently are going for $175 – $200 or there abouts, on ebay. Included in that set is a 2012 ASE, 5 quarters, a DIME and a HALF. That set has a mintage of 50,000. Meaning there are 50,000 more 2012 silver dimes and 50,000 more silver halves that need to be added to the mintage numbers of the 2012 Silver Proof Set dimes and halves.
    Seems to me if anyone was brave enough to take a chance on dropping some money on a 2012 proof set of any kind, clad or silver, the Limited Edition Silver Proof Set may be the way to go. Just better send the whole set in to be graded, unopened from the post office so the grading service will know the coins you’ve sent actually are a part of the Limited Edition Set and finally, hope they all come back with a label that reads PR70, Deep Cameo and the Limited Editon Silver Proof Set pedigree attached to it. Then you’d really have something. But, what are the odds of that happening?

  2. schnauzer says:

    I apologize for the long post. I didn’t realize I’d written so much. Wow. Using paragraphs in the text might have been nice also. Sorry.

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