US Coins

Mint seeks power to issue .999 fine Silver Proof sets

The dime, quarter dollar and half dollar for future Silver Proof sets could be composed of .999 fine silver instead of the current .900 fine silver under provisions of the proposed Fiscal Year 2013 federal budget.

Tom Jurkowsky, the director of the U.S. Mint’s Office of Public Affairs, said Feb. 17 that the proposed amendment to Title 31 of the United States Code contained in the budget proposal represents Deputy U.S. Mint Director Richard A. Peterson’s initiative to achieve production perfection by offering a pure silver product.

Jurkowsky said the Mint would not be committed to a Proof set with .999 fine silver dime, quarter dollar and half dollar if the budget measure is approved, but would have the authority to produce one should the Treasury secretary OK the move.

Currently, the dime, quarter dollar and half dollar for the Silver Proof set and the quarter dollar for the America the Beautiful Silver Quarters Proof set are composed of .900 fine silver, while the American Eagle silver bullion coin, commemorative silver dollars, and the 5-ounce silver versions of the America the Beautiful quarter dollars are composed of .999 fine silver.

The FY 2013 budget includes amending Section 5112(t)(6)(B) of Title 31, United States Code, by striking the language “90 percent silver and 10 percent copper,” and replacing it with “no less than 90 percent silver.”

While the Title 31 amendment proposed in the FY 2013 federal budget only references the America the Beautiful quarter dollars, Jurkowsky said the proposed fineness change would extend to the Roosevelt dime and Kennedy half dollar as they are also included in the annual Silver Proof set.

Silver Proof sets issued since 1992 have been produced under provisions of legislation passed by Congress in 1990 calling for the .900 fine silver for coins in denominations 10 cents and above. Additional legislation was passed to allow new dollar coins to be composed of their standard compositions rather than silver.

Cents and 5-cent coins for the Silver Proof sets are struck in the same base metal alloys – copper-plated zinc and copper-nickel, respectively – as that used for circulation and Uncirculated Mint set production. The dollar coins in the sets are made of a manganese-brass clad composition. ¦

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