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Bedrock mint set goes on sale May 14

The United States Mint calls them Uncirculated Coin Sets.

Hobby shorthand calls them mint sets.

Whatever you call them, they go on sale Monday, May 14.

The 2018 set contains 20 uncirculated coins, 10 pieces from each Mint coin production facility.

The familiar “P” mintmark is on each coin from Philadelphia with the exception of the cent.

The letter “D” is stamped on all 10 coins from Denver.

Five of the designs are this year’s America the Beautiful quarters.

They are joined by a cent, nickel, dime, half dollar and Native American dollar coin with athlete Jim Thorpe honored on the reverse.

Price is $21.95. This is up $1 from last year’s set, which also included 20 coins.

The set is as basic as you get in modern American numismatics.

Many of us began our habit of buying from the U.S. Mint with the mint set and the proof set.

The first mint set I ever purchased was the 1969 issue.

I was so excited about being able to order it directly from the Mint that I bought 10 sets.

They were $2.50 each. The $25 total turned out to be the cost of a valuable lesson.

Collectors prefer proofs.

Armed with this new knowledge, I cut my order back for the 1970 set to two.

That, too, turned out to be a mistake.

Unknown to collectors when they placed their orders, the Mint decided that the Denver half dollar would only be issued that year in the mint set.

1970 was the last year the composition of the half dollar was 40 percent silver.

Congress authorized clad composition for 1971.

The mint set fell in the transition.

Those of us who bought sets quickly found that they popped to $10 each on the secondary market.

It felt good to have purchased a winner.

But this bit of luck did not persuade me to order more mint sets in 1971

I stuck with two, as I did for many years.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the 2018 set had a surprise in store?

It would. But almost no one will be buying on that basis.

Buyers are loyal customers who are building out modern sets of Lincolns, Jeffersons, Roosevelts, ATB quarters, Kennedy half dollars and Native America dollars.

You can’t get more bedrock than that.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."

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