Readers Ask column from May 16, 2016, Weekly issue of
The reason for my message is to get some information about the Type
2 1981-S Proof set. Are all of the six coins in the Proof set
required to have the Type Two S Mint mark in order for it to be
called a Type 2 set? It may sound like a dumb question, but I have
seen mixed information published in various sources about this set.
If it is not required for all six, then what is the requirement?
Mario Difede / Via Email
In order for the 1981-S Proof set to be considered a Type 2 set, the
S Mint mark on each of the set’s six coins — Lincoln cent, Jefferson
5-cent coin, Roosevelt dime, Washington quarter dollar, Kennedy half
dollar, and Susan B. Anthony dollar — must be of the Type 2 style.
Finding an intact Type 2 set still in its original Mint packaging is
not the easiest of tasks. Some sets were issued with a mix of Type 1
and Type 2 coins, and some with all Type 1.
Many sets offered as Type 2 that have each coin individually graded
and encapsulated by a third-party grading service may contain coins
culled from multiple sets.
One can pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for certified Type
2 coins depending on denomination and grade, with the Kennedy half
dollar being the rarest Type 2 coin among the six denominations.
Because less than 10 percent of the more than 4 million 1981-S Proof
set coins struck bear the Type 2 Mint mark, those individual coins are
valued at and sell for hundreds of dollars each higher than their Type
What is referred to as the Proof 1981-S Type 1 Mint mark (the more
common of the two Mint marks for 1981-S Proof coins) was first
introduced in late 1979 for that year’s Proof coins. The serifs on the
S are small, the relief is rounded and the center loops of the S are oval.
Late in 1981, the Type 2 Mint mark was introduced. The serifs are
larger, more bulbous, with flat relief. The two loops in the letter S
are also circular.