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One of the many things we do is help families deal with inherited coin collections. Most collections we come across include various “Proof Sets” and “Mint Sets”. But most people don’t know the difference between the two, and most think that they’re worth considerably more than they really are.

MINT SETS: Mint Sets are sold by the US Mint directly to collectors. “Mint-State Quality Coins” that have never been circulated are packaged in a special cellophane wrap and sold at a premium price, well above the face value, plus shipping. Mint Sets were first produced in 1947 and, although the packaging has slightly changed over the years, the concept it still the same, with sets including one example of each coin produced in a single year. In 1947 only 12,600 Mint Sets were produced while, in later years, runs of 1,000,000+ was not uncommon.

PROOF SETS: Proof Sets are similar to Mint Sets in that each set includes one example of each coin produced in a single year. However, unlike Mint Sets which included never-circulated coins, Proof Coins are specially struck on a highly polished and mirror-like planchet. Although “Proof Coins” have been produced since the 1800’s, the first “Proof Set” wasn’t issued until 1936, when only 3,837 sets were released. In later years Proof Set releases of 3,000,000-4,000,000 were not uncommon.

WHAT’S IT WORTH?: PROOF SETS: Early 1936-1951 Proof Sets will have considerably greater value than later year sets. Otherwise, value will vary based upon Key Dates, Rarities, Varieties, and Collector Demand. MINT SETS: Early 1947-1958 Mint Sets will typically have greater value than those released in later years. Also remember that sets released 1964 and earlier will have dimes, quarters and half dollars that are 90% silver, which are typically more valuable than sets issued 1965 and later, which include “clad” (non-silver) coins. There are many exceptions to these value guidelines and we suggest that you do your homework first. Also remember that most internet value guides will be listing “Buy Prices” (what you must pay to buy a set), and not “Sell Prices” (what dealers will pay you). Whereas early Mint & Proof Sets can be worth many-hundreds-of-dollars, common and later-year sets often bring $5.00 or less.

Mike Ivankovich is an Auctioneer, Appraiser, Home Downsizing Expert, and host of the “What’s It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser” Radio Show that airs live in the Philadelphia PA area on Friday mornings from 9:30-10:30 AM EST on WBCB 1490 AM and on the Internet at: www.WBCB1490.com. You can also visit his Radio Show Web Site: