US Coins

2010 Proof set sales could be lowest in years

Annual 2011 sets, like the 2011-S Proof set, shown, will be sold by the U.S. Mint well into calendar year 2012. Sales of 2010 annual sets were to end Dec. 30, with sales of the standard 2010-S Proof set, not shown, poised to be the lowest since 1959.

Image courtesy of U.S. Mint.

Sales of the 2010-S Proof set were poised Dec. 27 to be the lowest for a standard Proof set since 1959, barring any final flurry of purchases before the Dec. 30 cessation of sales.

As of Dec. 27, the Mint had sold 1,102,698 of the 14-coin Proof sets. That number is the lowest for any standard Proof set since 1959, when 1,149,291 sets were sold.

Dec. 30 was scheduled as the final day that customers could place orders with the U.S. Mint for any remaining examples of 2010 annual coin sets, including the standard 14-coin set.

While the sales figure for the 2010 set is low by recent standards, one has to look at the history of recent Proof set offerings from the U.S. Mint for a better understanding of the sales trend.

Sales of the annual Proof set topped 1 million for the first time in 1957 and topped 3 million for the first time in 1961. From 1961 to 1990, annual sales topped 3 million sets 19 times and 4 million sets twice (1976 and 1981); sales dropped below 3 million during that time period eight times and never fell below 2 million.

Sales ranged from 2 million sets to 3 million sets annually in 1990s with just one exception, 1997, when sales dropped below 2 million, to 1,975,000.

Increase in set options

The fall-off of sales, especially noticeable in the 1990s, could be attributable in part to an increase in the number of Proof set options available to Mint customers.

From 1950 to 1982, the Mint offered a single Proof set annually (with none offered from 1965 to 1967). Those offered through 1964 contained a dime, quarter dollar and half dollar composed of 90 percent silver. Silver was dropped from the dime and quarter dollar with the 1968-S set; the silver content of the half dollar was reduced starting with the 1968-S set and eliminated altogether in 1971.

Proof set options began to grow when a Prestige Proof set, containing a standard Proof set plus one or two commemorative coins, was offered starting in 1983 and 1984, and annually from 1986 through 1997.

Beginning in 1992, a Silver Proof set option was offered annually; those sets offer dimes, quarter dollars and half dollars with the traditional 90 percent silver composition. In addition, specially packaged sets, called Premiere Proof sets, were offered for a few years starting in 1992.

The introduction of circulating commemorative coin sets swelled the number of Proof set offerings starting in 1999, with a State quarter dollars set offered annually; a silver version of the State quarter dollars set was offered beginning in 2004.

The Presidential dollar program, introduced in 2007, was marked with the introduction of a Presidential dollars Proof set the same year.

In 2005, 2006 and 2007, an American Legacy Collection was offered — essentially the old Prestige Proof sets, consisting of a regular set and two commemorative coins each year.

In 2009, a four-coin Proof set of Lincoln, Bicentennial cents was offered.

The various combinations of sets meant that five sets were offered in 2005, 2006 and 2008, and six in 2007 and 2009.

The U.S. Mint is still taking orders for the same set options containing 2011 coins and will continue to do so while inventory remains or until Mint officials announce a specific cutoff date. Sales of 2011 sets are likely to run through the end of calendar year 2012.

Any sets that remain in inventory after a coin program has been closed and sales reconciled are deconstructed, with the coins removed for melting and the metal reclaimed.

The U.S. Mint’s sales of certain annual sets through Dec. 27 for sets dated 2010 and 2011, follow:

? 14-coin Proof set: 2010-S, 1,102,698; 2011-S, 1,043,220.

? 14-coin Silver Proof set: 2010-S, 583,668; 2011-S, 537,875.

? 28-coin Uncirculated Coin set: 2010, 582,539; 2011, 505,666.

? Four-coin Presidential $1 Coin Proof set: 2010-S, 534,814; 2011-S, 278,209.

? Five-coin America the Beautiful Quarters Proof set: 2010-S, 275,628; 2011-S, 137,189.

? Five-coin America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof set: 2010-S, 272,886; 2011-S, 133,461.

Sales of the first 2012 annual sets are scheduled to begin Jan. 10 with the offering of the 2012 America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof set, followed on Jan. 17 by the 2012 America the Beautiful Quarters Proof set.

The 2012 Presidential $1 Coin Proof set is scheduled to go on sale Feb. 23. ¦

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