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Why would anyone buy clad proof set?

Don’t you think it is about time for the U.S. Mint to abolish its clad proof sets?

I do.

Silver proof sets containing 90-percent silver examples of dimes, quarters and half dollars have been produced by the U.S. Mint since 1992.

With the option of buying the silver set, why does anyone buy the clad set?

Price, of course, is one reason. The clad set presently costs $31.95. The silver set costs $53.95. The silver set goes for a 69 percent premium.

I expect some collectors might believe they cannot afford the more costly set.

However, there is almost 1.34 ounces of precious metal in the silver set. At the present market price, that works out to roughly $26.63 in silver value alone.

That and the face value of the other coins can act as a floor on its value should the worst happen. If silver doubles in price, the sets are likely to rise in price with it.

This is something that the sorry record of clad proof sets can’t match. They can fall in value and fall hard. The clad proof set of 2007 presently trades at $17. What do you think will happen to the value of the clad proof set that you pay $31.95 for presently?


Silver content does not guarantee that proof sets will rise in value. But it helps. Issue price of the 2007 silver proof set was $44.95. It is currently valued at $49.50. It has the same number of coins as the 2013 set.

That won’t make you rich, but it is a way better deal than the clad set offers.

None of this accounts for collectors’ appreciation of the beauty of silver, or their historic attachment to the metal.

If you look at mintage numbers of the clad set and the silver set in the very first year of 1992, you see 2.6 million clad sets and 1 million silver sets.

In 2013, the respective numbers are approximately 760,000 and 406,000.

That means clad proof set demand has tumbled by roughly 71 percent while the demand for the silver set has fallen by 59 percent. Of course, sales of both are not yet finished, and the differences will narrow a bit.

The silver proof set’s decline in numbers is somewhat less than clad’s decline. You would think that the difference would be greater.

Old habits apparently do die hard. Or are we collectively just being dense?

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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