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?