Did you know the U.S. Mint begins selling regular clad U.S. proof sets tomorrow?
I expect, if you are like me, you need a calendar to remember the date.
My first acquaintance with proof sets was like a kid at Christmas.
This is almost literally true.
I was a kid.
It was Nov. 1, 1968, which was almost Christmas.
I wanted a 1969 set.
I placed my order for two with my father’s check for $10 enclosed and I was off and running in collecting modern mint issues.
Little did I know that the rhythm of collector life was going to be slowly taken over by the calendar of what the Mint was going to issue.
Back then, it was easy. If your focus was strictly on coins, you had the annual proof set (there was only one) and the uncirculated coin set, which was called a mint set because it featured an uncirculated coin from every U.S. Mint producing the coins.
The 2015 clad proof set is now one of many Mint products. It is one of a number of different proof sets.
You can go clad. You can go silver. You can even buy small proof subsets of proof dollars or proof quarters.
The proof set has become a family of products for the Mint.
But picking away through this family of products can be difficult.
Is the clad proof set a good buy?
By the standards of 1968, it is very similar.
In 1968, the set of five coins had a face value of 91 cents. The $5 price was 5.49 times face value.
The 2015 proof set is priced at $32.95. The set is almost three times as large, with 14 coins in it. Face value is $6.91.
That means the current price is 4.77 times face value.
In those terms, it is a little bit cheaper than it was in 1968.
While these numbers are real, they are not something collectors normally think about unless they are looking for an excuse not to buy it.
If you are in that boat, I have done the arithmetic for you.
If you are still ordering proof sets spurred on by an impulse from your collector heart, never mind.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."