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Which Mint Sets Make the Best Investments?

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Question: Which Mint Sets Make the Best Investments?
The U.S. Mint offers a bewildering variety of coin sets each year, ranging from the old stand-by's such as Proof sets and Uncirculated (year) sets, to the special commemorative sets and coins that have limited mintages. Learn which ones typically skyrocket in value right away, and which ones are usually the duds.
Answer: The answer, in a nutshell, is the limited mintage sets that have a unique coin in them that cannot be gotten in any other way are the sets that make the smartest buys. For example, the Twentieth Anniversary Silver Eagle 3-Coin Set that came out in late 2006 had a coin that could only be acquired as part of the set - the Reverse Proof Silver Eagle. This set had a mintage of 250,000 maximum sets, and the Reverse Proof immediately doubled the set's value. As of January 2008, the set sells for around $400 in PR-68 (a low-end grade for the set.) The issue price was only $100.

A recent example of a not-so-great Mint set is the 3-coin Bald Eagle Set. This set consists of the three Bald Eagle coins (gold, silver, and clad) that can be purchased individually anyway, so the set is unlikely to have a strong aftermarket value. After all, we don't buy U.S. Mint sets for the fine packaging, we buy it for the coins! And in the case of the Bald Eagle, (like most U.S. Mint sets,) you pay a premium for that nice packaging! The total cost to buy all three coins separately at pre-release prices is $344.85. The 3-coin set costs $369.95. Therefore, you're paying an extra $25.10 for the nice box and a slick brochure (if the set even has one!)

In my opinion, one of the most overlooked set values in recent U.S. Mint history is the fabulous Botanic Gardens set. The set contains a 1997 Satin Finish Jefferson Nickel with the P Mint mark which could not be acquired in any other way. The mintage for the Botanic Gardens set was 25,000, so this very rare, key Jefferson Nickel made the Botanic Gardens set a real winner. At the time of this writing, you can still buy these sets on the aftermarket for below $200!

So, the next time you're thinking about buying a U.S. Mint set, evaluate the offering and ask yourself:
  • Does the set offer a coin that cannot be acquired in any other way?

  • Can you buy the coins in the set separately for a lower cost?

  • Is the entire set package, including brochures, gilt box, and other trappings worth the extra cost of the set?
Remember that you're buying coins here, not Mint packaging. Keep this fact in mind and you'll hardly ever go wrong when choosing which special sets to buy!

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