Coins - Proof
Proof sets provide unique enjoyment to coin enthusiasts for their beauty and their lustre.
Per the US Mint, "Proof coins, referred to as 'Master Coins' in the early days of the Mint were originally
produced to 'prove the correctness of the dies.' These first pieces, struck with extra care and bearing a high
polish, were reserved for the Mint’s Cabinet of Coins Collection and sometimes used for special presentations. They
were first offered for sale to the public in approximately 1858 and are produced under the authority of Section
5111 (a)(3), Title 31 of the United States Code."
The US Mint's production of Proof sets grew over the years, but the number of standard proof
sets minted began decreasing in recent years. This is due in part to the introduction of the proof sets
highlighting the variety of coins being minted (e.g., state quarters). The chart shows the population for standard
proof sets. Note that proof sets earlier than 1953 have mintages less than 100,000. Click here for proof sets population
In today's market, early proof sets, even those in the early to mid 1950s, can be
expensive. In early April 2010, the 1950 Proof Set's market value was over $600.
The market prices in the chart show one instance in time and are already out-of-date. Prices vary
from week to week depending on people's interests coupled with supply and demand. (Click here for some chart views into
the cost of living changes throughout the Proof Sets' years...interesting!)
But, sometimes the older proof sets (for example, in the 1960s) decrease in market value as a set, but the
coins increase in value as raw silver prices increase. Remember, earlier proof sets contained silver in their
dime, quarter and half dollar coins. Plus, some of the early Eisenhower dollar coins contained 40%
silver in the collector versions. Through the years, these sets, in an unknown quantity, have been broken
apart and the silver coins melted for their silver content.
In addition to breaking sets for the silver coins, other people's interests lie in rolled proof coins such as
rolls of proof dimes, proof nickels, proof pennies, etc. To make those proof rolls, proof sets are broken
apart, and the individual coins placed in rolls.
Though immeasurable, it would be interesting to know the current population of proof sets, by year, still in
their original holders. Using the rule of supply and demand, if a proof set's population was
significantly decreased wouldn't the value increase?
As a proof set, original packaging is important in helping the proof set retain and grow in value. The packaging
should not be torn or broken, and no writing should be on the US Mint's certificate,
box or wrapping. Also, tape and stickers should not be attached to a set or its packaging
Proof sets offer an easy way for new collectors to join other numismatists in learning about coins, their
historical significance and their value in the marketplace. Plus, proof sets make great gifts to commemorate
birthdays and anniversaries for friends and family.
Click on the decade or a specific year to learn more about the individual US Mint Proof Sets.
For 1965 through 1967, the US Mint produced "Special Mint Sets" rather than separate uncirculated mint sets and proof sets. Remember, for those three years, the US Mint did
not identify the mint location that produced the coins with the "D," "P" or "S" mint marks
on the coins.