All 2019 Limited Edition Proof set coins struck in .999 fine silver
- Published: Sep 20, 2019, 12 PM
All previous sets were struck with the Roosevelt dime, the quarter dollars and Kennedy half dollar struck in .900 fine silver, with just the Proof American Eagle silver dollar in a .999 fineness.
The switch is the result of 2015 legislation that, rather than requiring that certain coins have a 90 percent silver composition, mandated instead that their fineness be not less than 90 percent. That gave Mint officials authority to increase the fineness of the coins previously made of .900 fine silver — all silver commemorative coins and the Proof silver versions of the circulating denominations.
The Mint converted commemorative silver dollars to the .999 fine standard in 2019, beginning with the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary silver dollars.
Legislation was originally introduced in 2012, when the Limited Edition Silver Proof set was first produced, to mandate using .999 fine silver for the coins in the various packaging options for silver Proof U.S. coins.
Switching the fineness of silver in the annual Silver Proof sets and America the Beautiful Quarters Silver Proof set to .999 from the then current .900 would produce significant savings in refining and manufacturing costs for the U.S. Mint, according to Mint officials.
The move would also open the pool to additional planchet vendors, White said.
President Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2013 federal budget included a provision to amend Title 31, Section 5112, so that the dime, quarter dollars and half dollars in the various Silver Proof sets would be required to be composed of no less than 90 percent silver, rather than precisely 90 percent silver.
“The big picture is that fabricators that work with .999 fine silver blanks must charge us more to refine to 90/10 fineness,” according to Mint officials, referring to the 90 percent silver, 10 percent copper alloy then legally required for the dime, quarter dollar and half dollar in the collector sets. “We expect minor cost reductions from consolidating purchasing, die life improvements and freight savings, but, most importantly, the change would give us the opportunity to expand our supplier base. Of course, prices will reflect the increased silver content of the coins.”
The .900 fine silver specification was legislated in 1990, with the first Silver Proof sets adhering to that specification produced in 1992. That fineness met historical standards set by Congress in the mid-1830s and used until the mid-1960s for circulating silver coinage.
The .999 fine silver specifications for American Eagles and the America the Beautiful 5-ounce quarter dollars were mandated under separate legislation that authorized those issues.
The 2012 initiative resurfaced in 2015 when Rep. Bill Huizenga, D-Mich., introduced legislation where the language “90 percent silver 10 percent copper” would be replaced with “not less than 90 percent silver.” However, Huizenga’s proposed technical amendment purposely did not specify what the balance of the coinage alloy would be; it would grant the Mint leeway in adjusting the silver content as long as the composition is not less than 90 percent silver.
Huizenga’s proposal was incorporated as an amendment to the FAST Act, Public Law 114-94, signed into law Dec. 4, 2015, by President Obama.
The act also included Huizenga’s provision for the edge device on the Proof 2016-W American Eagle silver dollar to be incuse inscribed 30TH ANNIVERSARY.
2019 set content
The 2019 Limited Edition Silver Proof set incorporates all five America the Beautiful quarter dollars, representing Lowell National Historical Park in Massachusetts, American Memorial Park in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, War in the Pacific National Historical park in Guam, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas, and Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho.
All of the coins in the 2019 Limited Edition set are struck at the San Francisco Mint carrying that facility’s S Mint mark. The packaged product limit is 50,000 sets, priced at $149.95 each, with no household order limit.
All eight coins in the 2018 set were struck at the San Francisco Mint, but only the American Eagle was struck on a .999 fine silver planchet. The 2018 set, offered beginning Oct. 18, 2018, priced at $144.95, was still available for sale as of Sept. 19, 2019.
The U.S. Mint’s latest sales report records as sold 48,241 of the 2018-S sets, of 50,000 authorized.
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