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It's a mint set question

Every once in a great while the U.S. Mint Uncirculated Coin Set, or simply mint set, as most collectors call it, becomes the focus of intense collector interest.

Usually it is because the set contains a coin or coins that were not struck for circulation. The 1970 set featured a 40-percent silver 1970-D half dollar. It was the last of the 40-percenters and the only way to get it was to buy the set.

In 1981, the three Anthony dollars struck that year were simply those struck for the annual set.

In 1987, the only way to get half dollars was to buy the set.

In 1996, there was a special West Point dime included only in the mint set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Roosevelt dime.

Sometimes collectors know ahead of time what the situation is and act accordingly. Sometimes, as was the case with the 1970 set, we didn’t know. The 1970 set is memorable for me because I had ordered 10 1969 sets and when the order period rolled around in 1970 I decided buying that many sets was a waste of money and I ordered two. Oh well.

When the 2009 set is offered to collectors sometime this summer, it will probably be a feeding frenzy kind of moment, but collectors are in a stranger than usual position.

We know more than nothing as was the case in 1970, but there will be no coin in the set that is struck solely for mint sets, so we have to ask what’s the big deal?

Well, we are tantalized by the difficulties of getting Lincoln cents, nickels, dimes and event quarters through the usual banking channels, so I know many collectors will simply fall back on buying the set to take care of the holes in their albums.

What will that do to demand? It will probably increase it. That will help assure future generations of collectors a supply of this year’s coins. But since no coins in it will be solely available in the set, it is hard to see any long-term premium value that will attach to it. That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a short-term pop in price in online trading.

So buyers will have to decide whether the set will simply fulfill their own needs or whether it is worth the risk as a speculation.

Is it better to have this between kind of information or was I better off knowing nothing as was the case in 1970?