A Popular Coin Collecting Meme

August 28th, 2012  |  Published in Silver Coins

Many collections have been formed by those drawn to the annual set offerings of the United States Mint. Traditionally, this has included one collection of uncirculated coins and another containing proof coins. These standardized products had been created after early years of sporadic production and varying formats offered prior.

The uncirculated coin set consisted of one (or two) examples of each coin struck for circulation during the year. Initially, these came packaged in cardboard holders and were priced at a modest premium to the actual face value. These coins were simply pulled from regular production runs at the mint facilities and put together as a complete set. Over time, the product would slightly evolve, with the number of coins reduced to a single example from each mint, and packaging changed to a soft plastic enclosure.

Proof coinage is produced under different circumstances from regular circulating coins, and as such there has always been demand and fascination for these pieces from collectors. Initially, the coins were struck and offered individually on a one-off basis to collectors. In later years, it also became possible to order a complete set containing one of each denomination. Starting in 1950, the proof coins could essentially only be ordered within these complete sets.

As the popularity of coin collecting grew, so did orders for the annual sets. Speculation may have also played a part, as some of the earliest sets began to rise in value due to the low mintages and higher demand. This culminated in 1964, when nearly 4 million sets were produced.

After a pause in production, the offering of these collector sets resumed in standardized format in 1968, and has continued ever since. There was only one brief interruption when federal budget concerns caused the elimination of the uncirculated sets in 1982 and 1983.

Besides providing an enjoyable pursuit and possible appreciation in value, collections of this sort also provide a wonderful glimpse of history.

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