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Mint holds the line

Just when you think everything is going up in price, it is nice to come across the news that 2008 clad proof sets will be the same price as the 2007 sets when they go on sale June 24.

The $26.95 price is steady. For collectors who have been in the hobby for many years, the price might still seem on the high side as they recall the $2.10 price of the last silver proof set of 1964 and $5 for the first clad proof set in 1968, but it must be remembered that there are many more coins in the set this year.

In both 1964 and 1968 there were just five coins in the set, the cent, nickel, dime, quarter and half dollar. This year the set has nearly three times as many coins at 14.

There are five $1 coins. There are four Presidential dollars and the Sacagawea dollar. There are five state quarters. And, of course, there are examples of the cent, nickel, dime and half dollar.

Face value in 1968 was 91 cents. Face value this year is $6.91. By one metric, this year’s set is cheaper than the 1968 set. Where the cost of the 1968 set was 5.49 times face value, the cost of the 2008 set is 3.90 times face value.

I suppose another metric, which may not be universal is my personal “what could I afford with my paper route income” metric. It is far easier today for me to buy a proof set for $26.95 than it was for me to get the $5 in 1968. Actually, the first set I ever ordered from the Mint was the 1969 set, but it was the same price and the same income situation when those sets went on sale Nov. 1, 1968.

This latter personal metric may not always feel true because there are many more claims on my income now than there were four decades ago.

Nevertheless, the Mint holding the line on the proof set price is most welcome news.