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Not with a bang, but a whimper

Shhhh. I’ve got a secret. But I’ll share.

The U.S. Mint is offering a 2012 Birth Set. It’s set for release at noon March 13.

Yes, for real. But for some reason, the Mint decided not to say anything about it. Instead, it just popped up on the Mint’s list of new products at the end of February.

It’s the first time the U.S. Mint has offered a coin set to mark the year in which a child was born. And it’s not a random set of coins in a plastic holder.

It comes with a cute little card that will hold a baby photo, a lock of baby’s hair and five proof coins from the San Francisco Mint.

The five 2012-S proof coins are a Lincoln cent, a Jefferson nickel, a Roosevelt dime, an America the Beautiful quarter honoring El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico and a Kennedy half dollar.

The U.S. is a little late to the birth set game. Other Mints have been making money off the celebration for years. Britain’s Royal Mint offers three different sets, the Royal Canadian Mint has a set and The Perth Mint lets you choose from sets that feature a cuddly koala or baby dragon.

Then there are the precious metals companies that offer silver rounds with enamel overlays proclaiming “Baby’s First Birthday” and coin shops that will hand-select an assortment of coins and place them in a special folder.

It didn’t take long for the numismatic community to react once news of the 2012 Birth Set got out. If comments on hobby chat forums are any judge, the coin collecting community was under-whelmed.

As one commenter put it, “It’s totally unimpressive.”

Oh, yeah. The set costs $19.95.

But as one collector suggested, for another $12 you can buy a 2012 mint set. Put it in a nice card and you’ve made your own set.

So maybe that’s why the 2012 Birth Set made a timid entrance onto the numismatic scene. We finally have a U.S. Mint product with which to celebrate a family milestone, but it doesn’t exactly take your breath away.

Ho, hum. Maybe the Mint can add a balloon and some confetti to add a little pizzazz.

Jefferson Nickel Folder