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Time to make memories?

Sales of mint sets begin today at the U.S. Mint.

When I began buying them, it was the 1969 set that the Mint was selling.

In those days, the name “mint set” was shorter than the current official name, which is the 2012 United States Mint Uncirculated Coin Set®.

The price was also much lower, $2.50 instead of the current $27.95.

To be sure, there are many more coins in the current set, 28 compared to 10 in 1969. Face value is also much 10 times higher today, $13.82 compared to $1.33.

The difference between the two sets is probably more a matter of collector attitudes to them rather than of the sets themselves.

With the 1969 set collectors had been starved of official Mint issues and they looked upon the mint sets as a treat. Today we are more indifferent to them.

Mintmarks had been eliminated with the 1965-1967 dates. Proof sets were abolished. Mint sets were abolished. A hybrid Special Mint Set was offered for the three dates.

Then in 1968 proof sets and mint sets returned. The proof set had a much higher price, $5 as opposed to $2.10, and it was much remarked upon.

The mint set was only a dime higher in price compared to 1964, but collectors considered the single 40 percent silver half from Denver in it much inferior to the two 90 percent silver halves in the 1964 set. Silver was completely absent in the dimes and quarters.

Offsetting that to a degree was the fact that San Francisco was then striking cents and nickels for circulation and they were included in the mint set.

The magic of the “S” mintmark was still there, but it could not overcome the loss of silver in collector sentiment.

As you can tell, even after 43 years, the facts of the 1969 mint set are still vivid in my mind. I only consulted references to make sure my recollection of the 1964 mint set issue price was accurate. That set sold before I was a Mint customer and it is part of numismatic history rather than my own experience.

Will someone be buying the 2012 mint set today who will recall it fondly 43 years in the future? I hope so. That is what collecting is all about.