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Coin Sets - Mint Coin Sets - Commemorative Coin Sets

October 20th, 2011 Coins

A Slice of Time in Coins

Many ambitious coin collectors strive to collect each U.S. Mint coin proof set, all the way back to the program’s roots in 1936. While the first proof set can set you back over $7,000, you may not be ready for such an investment!

Start your collection with the 2006 coin proof set. This collection of coins was issued in 2006 and includes the 2006 Golden Dollar, Kennedy half dollar, Roosevelt dime , "Return to Monticello" nickel, and Lincoln penny. And it’s much kinder on your pocketbook than its predecessors! Additionally, the set contains the five Statehood Quarters that were issued in 2006:

  • Nevada: "The Silver State"
  • Nebraska: "Chimney Rock"
  • Colorado: "Colorful Colorado"
  • North Dakota: "Badlands with Bison"
  • South Dakota: "Mount Rushmore and Pheasant"

The proof coins were crafted in the manner typical to proof coinage, with frosted images and a shiny, mirror-like background. The coins were also struck twice to ensure a crisp image appears on each coin. Start your coin proof set with this set, and before you know it, its value will grow exponentially!

Add a Bit of Canada to Your Coin Collection

If you’ve exhausted your resources collecting American coins, shift your coin collection to the north and start looking for attractive Canadian coin sets. One especially beautiful collection is the Zodiac Privy Mark Silver Maple Leaf Series. Each of the 12 zodiac symbols are featured as a privy mark on a 2004 1 ounce silver maple leaf Canadian coin. What’s a privy mark, you ask? Where U.S. coins often have the first letter of where the coin was minted to identify its origins, Canada and other countries use a privy mark in the form of a unique design to identify its origin. Only 25,000 of each zodiac privy mark coin was issued, which makes each all the more valuable. All 12 of the coins were released in 2004.

The coins were released in the following order (also serves as a reminder of your zodiac signs):

  1. Aries
  2. Taurus
  3. Gemini
  4. Cancer
  5. Leo
  6. Virgo
  7. Libra
  8. Scorpio
  9. Sagittarius
  10. Capricorn
  11. Aquarius
  12. Pisces
The front of each coin features the familiar Canadian maple leaf in matte. The zodiac symbol is found beneath the leaf on the left side. On the reverse is Queen Elizabeth II.

Coins That are “Mint” for Your Collection!

So you’ve heard of mint coin sets and proof coin sets, but aren’t sure of the difference? Here’s a breakdown:

  • Mint coins are uncirculated, but regular coins meant for circulation.
  • Proof coins are “tests” to ensure the minting equipment is up to par. They are not intended for circulation.
A mint coin set includes every denomination created at each mint in a given year. Most sellers offer sets from the 1950s to today. The price of these sets is affordable, but high enough that you know that in the future, a mint coin set will be worth much more! Here are some sample prices for sets:
  • 1951: $1200
  • 1960: $42
  • 1973: $29
  • 2006: $24.95
The price varies depending on how many coins were minted that year. If only 25,000 dimes were minted in a year, they are more rare and valuable, and therefore, the mint coin set will cost more. These sets are packaged by the U.S. Treasury Department. Each set comes in an enveloped from the Treasury, and each set of coins from a mint are in plastic packaging that separates each coin, as well as identifies which mint it came from. If you come across a set that is issued by someone else, it is a fraud.

Determining the Value of Your Proof Set

Maybe you just found every coin proof set ever pressed in your parents’ attic, and now you want to know what they’re worth. Chances are, you found yourself a coin goldmine, but before you jump for joy do your research. There are books and online tools that can help you assess the coin proof set values before you take them to a coin dealer who might try to purchase the set for less than it is worth.

The difference between assessing the value of a coin proof set and a regular coin collected is that grade doesn’t come into play as much. Grade refers to the condition of the coin, and the amount of wear and tear it has experienced in its lifetime. Since proof sets typically stay in their display, they are usually in mint condition. Value charts reflect this. As you might have surmised, the older a proof set is, the more valuable it is. However, any set that does not bear the customary S mintmark are also extremely valuable and rare.

To give you an idea, a 1936 proof set is worth approximately $7,000, a 1975-S proof set with no S is worth about $54,000, and a 5-piece 2003-S proof set is worth only about $21. These prices change over time with demand.

Once you have a good idea of what your coin collection is worth, if you are interested in selling it, take the values with you when bargaining with a dealer or buyer. That way you ensure you get the best deal. You can also sell your sets on eBay, where demand dictates the price.

Join the European Union

In 2002, the 12 members of the “Eurozone” began using the Euro as currency. Euro coin sets are a great way to celebrate the centralizing of Europe, and it’s an ongoing project! You can collect both official mint Euro collection sets, as well as unofficial sets. The difference? The unofficial sets aren’t recognized by the Eurozone as official sets, but if you don’t mind, you can save money by buying these sets put together by dealers and collectors.

The sets include one of each of the uncirculated coins released that year. Each year, the design centers around one of the countries in the Eurozone. Each set holds:

  • A 2-Euro piece (with gold colored center and silver colored rim around circle)
  • A 1-Euro piece (with silver colored center and gold colored rim around circle)
  • A 50 Euro cent piece (gold colored)
  • A 20 Euro cent piece (gold colored)
  • A 10 Euro cent piece (gold colored)
  • A 5 Euro cent piece (bronze colored)
  • A 2 Euro cent piece (bronze colored)
Many of the designs are based upon the designs of the featured country’s former currency. For instance, the French Euros feature a woman sowing seeds, found on French francs before the Euro. Greece’s coins take inspiration from a Spartan mosaic of Zeus (in the form of a bull) abducting Europa (a mythology figure for whom Europe was named).

Lady Liberty on a Coin

In 1986, the U.S. Mint issued the Statue of Liberty Half Dollar, Dollar and Gold Commemorative coin. These coins were released in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty’s arrival in the U.S. as a symbol of hope and freedom, as well as to celebrate the importance of Ellis Island in New York City.

Sets with all three coins are a great addition to any collection of U.S. coins! Each coin features Lady Liberty in all her glory.

  • The half dollar shows Liberty holding her torch high, and on the flip side, immigrants arriving at Ellis Island are featured.
  • On the dollar coin, the Statue of Liberty faces you, with Ellis Island in the background. On the reverse, Liberty watches the sun rise (or set) over the Island.
  • The gold coin, a $5 piece, shows an up close portrait of Lady Liberty’s face, with the traditional eagle spreading his wings on the reverse.
The Liberty coin set has an attractive flip top blue casing to showcase your new coins. If you’re looking for a Liberty coin set, make sure the coins are uncirculated and are in their original U.S. Mint box. Your set should include a Certificate of Authenticity. If it does not, it may be a fake.

Proof Coins 101

So you keep hearing about coin proof sets, but aren’t sure what a proof coin is. Is it valuable? Is it worth collecting? A proof coin is an early edition of a coin issued. Initially, proof coins were designed to check the dies that manufactured the coins, as well as to archive for future research. Today, proof coins are struck for collectors, and are often found in coin sets.

Proof coins have some characteristics that set them apart from regular coins:

  • They have sharper rims, clearer designs, and feel smoother.
  • U.S. proof coins often have a frosty look in some areas, while other areas shine like mirrors. This is due to the chemicals used on proof coins.
  • Most coins are double struck. This usually isn’t discernible.
The U.S. Mint stopped making proof coins for useful purposes in 1916. However, beginning in 1936, the Mint started making collectible proof sets, which included a penny, nickel, dime, quarter and half dollar. Since then, the Mint has made other commemorative proof sets, including the Prestige Proof sets, Legacy Proof sets, and the Statehood Quarters proof sets.

Since 1995, proof sets have been struck in silver and base metals. Coin proof sets are sold at dozens of stores online, and range from affordable to prices only for the most serious (and rich) collector.

THE Birthday Gift for Coin Collectors

If you’re looking for a birthday gift to give a collector, or the newborn child of a collector, consider a birth year coin set. These sets contain a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar minted in the birth year, and are usually presented in attractive casings or displays.

These are perfect to give a collector to represent special years of importance, such as the year each of her children were born or an anniversary year, or they can be given to a child when it is born as a special remembrance of the occasion. Once the child is older, the collection that was very affordable when you bought it will be worth much more should he choose to sell it!

Birth year coin sets are typically set in a plastic holder in a presentation box. Some coin dealers have designed special holders with personalized messages on them, such as “Happy Birthday!” or “It’s a Girl!” These add a special touch to your unique gift. Another option is to display the set in a frame containing the coins.

What’s Your (Coin) Type?

If you’re into a particular coin or design of coin, consider starting a coin type set collection. Typically, a coin type set has one denomination, and has a coin from each date one was issued. If you adore pennies, you would strive to collect a penny from every year as far back as they go (around 1793). You would collect all types of pennies, including the large cent (1793-1857) and the small cent (1856 to present).

The fact that a coin changes its design over time is exciting for collectors! Your coin type set can display changes in taste over the years. Some reasons designs change may include:

  • History
  • Culture
  • Politics
Here are some interesting examples of why coin designs changed in the past:
  • As soon as it was noticed that Liberty’s breast was exposed on the Standing Liberty Quarter, originally issued in 1916, the coin was changed to reflect more modest attire.
  • In 1837, the U.S. Mint decided to design the dime without its stars. The public was offended, and the stars were added back to the design.
The presidents we admire today may be extinct to the popular opinion in 100 years! Just imagine what coins will look like in the future (if they exist at all).