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Investment proof

How excited are you about modern U.S. proof sets and mint sets? Proof silver American Eagles?

I have one reader so excited about the topic that he sent me an email asking why I have not written about them lately.

The email was sent not only to me but three other people here.

His angle is less about collectibility and more about comparative mintage statistics.

He helpfully provided me a short list of four products he is interested in complete with asterisks and footnotes.

The first item on the list is:

2014S Clad Proof Set 714,661 *

The asterisk takes me down to a footnote that says this is the lowest mintage since the 1956 proof set of 669,384 and it is also lower than the clad 2012-S proof set, which had a mintage total of 794,002.

The second item is:

2014S Pres. $ Proof Set 229,415 **

The two asterisks take me to a footnote that observes that this set has a lower mintage than the 2012-S Presidential Dollar set’s 249,265 total.

The third item is: 2014 P/D Mint Set 345,813 ***

The three asterisks take me to a footnote with the information that the mintage total is lower than the 2012 mint set’s 392,224 with the 2013 mint set number is lower yet at 327,969.

The final item is:

2015W Proof Silver Eagle 699,623+

Instead of an asterisk there is a plus sign taking me to a footnote saying lowest mintage since 2008-W at 700,979. Also, last reeded rim on this 2015-W proof silver Eagle, as the U.S. Mint will introduce this year flat edging with indication of 30th anniversary.

I assume the writer of the email has copy/pasted this information from some other source and wants me to offer investment advice.

I do not usually receive emails with footnotes.

In my past writings I have noted that the level of collector interest in proof and mint sets has been declining for years.

I was raised in the hobby when 3 million was a common annual proof set sales total, so I know how it feels to look at these recent much lower numbers.

However when I was starting out the 1956 proof set mintage was considered fairly common.

The year 1955 was the break point toward the scarcity of the 1950-1955 group.

However, if you look at the sales totals for the 2015 sets that we publish every week on the Mint Statistics pages, they are all lower than the 2014 sets.

This then does not recommend the 2014 sets for any kind of scarcity designation.

For the proof Eagle, being the scarcest since 2008-W does not say very much for a 30-year run of dates.

The statement of last reeded edge will cease to be true when the 2017 proof Eagles are produced.

Will the current low proof and mint set sales numbers prove to be a bottom with growing collector interest in them in the future?

It is possible, but I would not bet money on such an outcome.

The reason to buy the latest proof sets and mint sets is to keep your collection current and to enjoy the coins in them.

As investments, they have not done all that well.

I expect I will continue to write blogs about this topic n the future, but to follow these numbers week by week, check the Mint Statistics pages in Numismatic News.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."