From the Sept. 12 Numismatic News E-Newsletter:
Does the Mint make too many versions of the proof set?
Here are some answers sent from our e-newsletter readers to Editor Dave Harper.
Yes. It is confusing even for someone who has been collecting the yearly proof set for many years.
With regards to the proof sets of regular circulating coinage, I would say the answer is no. Most of the “versions” are just partial sets.
For instance, the dollar proof set contains the same coins as in the full proof set. Similarly, the ATB quarter proof sets are identical to the ATB quarters you get in the full set. So there is really only one kind of circulating coinage proof set, with the option to buy a partial set if the collector so wishes. This seems perfectly reasonable to me.
The answer could well be different if one considers proof sets for non-circulating issues.
When the Mint combines the circulating dollars into a set with the silver Eagle, for instance, this seems a bit much to me when I can already buy them separately.
Sometimes you can make too many permutations combining the various options, and make things more complicated then they have to be. Each year, I buy the regular full proof set and the silver full proof set, and that is it. If I want a proof silver Eagle or other non-circulating issue, I will buy them separately and individually.
Maybe you should have asked, how many versions would be too many? Or better yet, what constitutes a proof set?
I have been collecting proof sets for years. I buy direct from the Mint and I like the look of a proof coin. To me a proof set is a proof of each circulating denomination. I actually have a subscription with the Mint so I do not forget to purchase them.
Will they ever be worth more than I spend on them? Probably not. But I do like them and many times give them away as gifts. Who knows, perhaps they will get someone involved in the hobby someday.
Of course the silver proof sets look the best! The beauty of a silver half dollar and dime make the set.
I do wish they produced a silver nickel and I can only wonder what a silver Native American dollar would look like. The quarters don’t motivate me anymore. I will take an old-fashioned 1964 quarter any day.
But the quarters and Presidential dollars come with the set. There is no need to buy a presidential or quarter proof set separately. But many people do.
The proof silver Eagle is a must. Silver Eagles have done more for the hobby than any other coin. They have become a collecting phenomenon on their own.
We have collectors collecting and grading bullion coins. But the bullion cannot compare to the proof. Neither in numbers or beauty. Add the reverse proof, mintmarks, uncirculated or burnished and the beat goes on.
The proof gold Kennedy half has the potential to be the granddaddy of proofs. The price will keep the numbers low enough that it should appreciate in value. The popularity of Kennedy, as well as being an attractive design, and hype should keep it above the purchase price for years to come. I don’t think anyone who buys one from the Mint will ever lose money on this one.
The Prestige set that the Mint used to sell has always appealed to me. I think they are some of the most beautiful proof sets produced. For some reason they never appreciated in value, but they still look good. The silver Prestige sets are a favorite of mine.
The Mint produced some very nice commemorative sets going back to the 1980s but also never appreciated financially in the secondary market. The proof Olympics and Mt. Rushmore are two of my favorites. Only the price of metals keeps an original purchaser from going into the red on these.
In the final analysis, modern proof coins are for the novice collector. I recently read an article in NN that a collector was surprised to learn that his proof post 1964-collection did not fetch a profit. Well, they most probably won’t in our lifetime. But when you have them, you have coins that were never put in circulation, look good, remain preserved and if you study them may even find an error on occasion. And they are always worth face value.
For the older collector looking to get rid of the post-1964 proof sets, consider opening a few sets and spending them at a local convenience store. It will be worth it just to see the look on the face of the clerk as he/she tries to figure out what you gave them.
Old Bridge, N.J.
Think positive. Too many proof sets will free you up to spend proof coins in everyday transactions! Think of the exciting finds in change!
Yes, plus I think they charge more than if they only made one set.
Since I don’t feel compelled to buy everything the Mint sells, I like having a variety of items to chose from. For example, reverse proofs, baseball mitt dish and gold Kennedy half.
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