US Mint Sets - 1959 to date

A 'Mint Set' is a specially prepared set of uncirculated coins, packaged by the US Mint for sale at a premium above face value, which appeals especially to collectors because -- while the coins are not perfect -- they are of high quality, and have few, if any, flaws.

The number of coins in a Mint Set has tended to vary over time. The first Mint Sets, from 1950 through 1958, contained two of each coin from each active mint, for a total quantity of four of each coin. During those years, the coins were packaged in a cardboard holder which were found to contribute to tarnishing of the coins over time.

In 1959, the Mint Set program underwent two significant changes.

The chart below documents three quantity and cost parameters of Mint Sets from 1959 to date.

During the years of 1965-1967, the mint made neither Proof Sets nor Mint Sets, but made, instead, 'Special Mint Sets' (SMS). The SMS program was a compromise for coin collectors as the coins were not proof-like, but they were better than the usual Mint Set strikes.

Many reasons have been given for the suspension of the two collector's sets for those years, but the one that makes the most sense to me pertains to the change-over from silver coins in '64 to clad coinage in '65. Minting coins from the new metals -- and high production quotas -- necessitated the three year suspension of the labor-intensive 'proof' coinage program.

The face value of the coins in an SMS was half of the face value of the '59-'64 Mint Sets, as there was just one coin of each denomination included. The price didn't go down, however. Where the mint had charged $2.40 for the 1964 Mint Set (face value = $1.82 with silver coins), it now charged $3.50 for the 1965 SMS (face value = $0.91 with the only silver coin being a silver clad half dollar). It is interesting to note that while the SMS quantity declined from '64 to '65, and again in '66, and the face value of the coins remained steady at 91 cents, the issue price continued to climb. What had cost $3.50 in 1965 cost $4.00 in 1966, and a whopping $6.00 in 1967! Perhaps that accounts for the decline in demand that year. The fact that the '67 SMS was overpriced was validated the next year as the mint resumed production of 'regular' Mint Sets and increased the face value to $1.33 (three 1c, two 5c, 10c, & 25c, and one 50c) while dropping the price by more than half to $2.50.

The quantity of the coins in the Mint Sets has changed several times since the sets resumed production in '68.

As you might expect, the mint's markup (profit) on the sales of Mint Sets has increased through the years. The '64 set with a $1.82 face value had an issue price of $2.40, for a markup of 32%. That same mix of coins in a '95 Mint Set has the same face value ($1.82), but an issue price of $8.00, for a markup of 340%! Not bad, when you consider the '64 set had silver coins while the intrinsic value of the metal in the '95 coins is, well, .... let's just say it's not near face value.

Sometimes the only way to obtain a particular coin is to buy a Mint Set and take the coin from it (or buy the coin from someone else who has done that).

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This page was developed by Herb Klug
Updated February 2, 2008
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