We collectors take so much for granted that it sometimes surprises me to see how a noncollector might view things.
Take the simple term “proof set.”
We all know that proof sets contain proof coins, which are coins that were specially struck on polished planchets with polished dies.
So as far as it goes, proof set is a simple concept, right?
Well, nothing is simple any longer. It might be a different story if this were 1968 when there was just a proof set and a mint set (which contains uncirculated coins).
But nowadays we have a 14-coin clad proof set. We have a 14-coin silver proof set, where the dimes, quarters and half dollars are made of .900 fine silver. The cent, nickel and dollar coins are base metal.
Then we have proof quarter sets. The Mint offers five-coin sets of proof quarters each year. They feature each of the five America the Beautiful designs that appear on our quarters each year. The series runs 2010 to 2021. There is also the silver five-quarter proof set.
How about the Presidential dollar proof set? That set features the four Presidential dollars that are struck each year.
Now if you buy the 14-coin clad set, you get the coins that comprise the quarter and dollar proof sets, but some collectors don’t want all of the coins. They would rather buy the specialized smaller sets.
So if you simply use the term “proof set” as we have done for many years, I know that you mean the regular issue, 14-coin clad proof set.
But as time goes by, I wonder how many others do.
Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2013 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."