Skip to main content

Silver proof sets stay strong

Let’s revisit a topic I raised June 9 about the rising popularity of silver proof sets relative to the standard clad proof set.

I noted that more silver proof sets were being sold as a percentage relative to clad proof set sales in 2016 compared to 2015.

That means the silver set is rising in popularity – or at worst losing popularity more slowly than clad proof sets.

A month ago I observed that for the 2015 set, the number of silver proof sets sold was equal to 57.7 percent of the number of clad proof sets sold. The numbers were 648,225 for the clad proof set and 374,208 for the silver proof set.

The 2015 sets continue to be offered. Sales now stand at 650,209 and 376,019, respectively, for a percentage of 57.8. In short, not much change in the past month.

For the 2016 numbers, the totals a month ago were 286,281 clad proof sets and 207,002 silver proof sets for a comparative percentage of 72.3 percent.

If collector preferences are really unchanged from 2015 to 2016 and the difference is just a matter of when sets first went on sale, ongoing sales should reduce the difference between the two years until the 72.3 percentage falls to a matching 57.8 percent. Is that happening?

With a month more of sales data, what do we see?

The 2016 silver proof set percentage did fall – but only a bit, to 70.2 percent of the clad total.

The latest numbers show clad sales of 322,080 sets and silver sales of 226,261 sets. These sales numbers still show an increase in preference by collectors for silver proof sets.

Now this rising interest is not due to some new golden age, or perhaps I should write, some new silver age for proof set demand.

In fact sales of both kinds of proof sets have fallen significantly from last year to this year.

But silver proof set buyers have been a bit more committed to their sets than the clad proof set buyers.

So far, the 2016, clad set buyers have seen their sets purchased fall by half, or rather 50.5 percent to be precise. In the case of the silver sets, sales so far are down by 40 percent.

The hardier nature of the silver proof set buyer makes it likely that silver proof set sales will pass clad proof set sales two or three years down the road.

This is impressive because silver sets are more expensive than the clad set, $52.95 each compared to $31.95. Collectors often opt for the cheaper option.

In this case, as I pointed out a month ago, a lower initial price might not be the best long-term value.

The recent move taking the price of silver to over $20 an ounce has underlined this point by showing that there is an intrinsic value that may reward buyers in the long run.

That is something clad proof sets cannot offer.

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

  • Subscribe to our monthly Coins magazine – a great resource for any collector!