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Silver proof set price cut raises hopes

The trend to cheaper proof sets continues June 7.

That is the date the 2017 silver proof set will be offered to collectors by the United States Mint.

Issue price is $47.95.

Last year’s issue price was $52.95.

Collectors save $5.

I use the word “trend” because this year’s clad proof set also had a $5 price cut.

Last year it cost $31.95.

This year it is being sold for $26.95.

Most of the cost reduction springs from the end of the Presidential dollar series.

The 2016 set had three Presidential dollars in it.

The 2017 will feature no Presidential dollars.

Only the Native American design represents this denomination in the 2017 set.

Price cuts are welcome.

The only question is whether they can reverse the ongoing decline in customer purchases.

Proof set sales are not what they once were.

When the 1968 clad proof set was sold at $5 each, collectors grabbed three million of them.

As recently as 2006, the Mint sold two million clad sets annually.

What is the sales number now?

In 2015, it was 662,855.

In 2016, the number was 594,828.

While you might conclude that collectors are giving up on clad proof sets, the story of silver sets is more complicated.

Demand over time created an interesting wave pattern.

Just over one million silver proof sets were sold in 1992, the first year of availability.

In 1993, sales roughly halved.

But then something funny happened.

Sales increased until they regularly beat the 1992 figure in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Then they retreated again.

In 2015, the sales number for the silver proof set was 387,311.

The 2016 number stands at 369,874.

They are basically down like the clad sets.

But the prior wave of increases offers hope that it could happen again.

Can the silver proof set sales number rise from present levels?

I don’t know.

However, a $5 price cut can’t hurt.

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

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