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Every year, the United States Mint issues its Uncirculated Coin Sets as a way of preserving coins with the same designs as those used in everyday commerce. The sets are perfect for collectors who choose not to take circulating coiage for granted, and they are often affordable enough for even the most budget conscious collectors.
A US Mint Uncirculated Set, which is sometimes called simply a US Mint Set, is a set issued with each of the coins issued for circulation in the United States in a given year. In recent years, this has meant a penny, nickel, dime, and each America the Beautiful Quarter from both the Philadelphia Mint and the Denver Mint. In addition to examples of the coins issued for circulation, recent sets have also included two additional pieces from each mint, a half dollar and a dollar coin, that are not issued for circulation.
The coins are struck from the same metal contents as they are struck outside of the sets. Pennies are 2.5% copper and the rest zinc. Nickels, dimes, quarters, and half dollars are all struck from cupro-nickel, with the nickel being 25% nickel and the other coins being just 8.33% nickel. Sacagawea dollars are struck from 6% zinc, 3.5% manganese, 2% nickel, and the rest copper.
The first US Mint Uncirculated Set was issued in 1947. The coins were set in cardboard panels with two of each coin that was issued for circulation. This allowed the holder to view both the obverses and reverses of the coins at the same time. The sets were issued this way through 1958 with the exception of 1950.
From 1959-1964, the sets were released in soft plastic packs with just a single example of each of the coins issued for circulation. So-called “special mint sets” were issued in lieu of both uncirculated sets and proof sets for the next three years. Uncirculated sets have been issued every year since with the exceptions of 1982-1983, when individual “souvenir sets” were issued by both the Philadelphia Mint and the Denver Mint.
Starting in 2005 and ending in 2010, the coins in the sets were struck from special dies that gave them satin finishes. Today, annual sets include two sets of business strikes, one from the Philadelphia Mint and one from the Denver Mint, that are set in blister-pack.
In terms of value, all the sets issued from 1947-1959 stand out as having values that are usually well above the rest. They are not equally so, though. The first issue is far and away one of the most valuable ever issued, which is largely due to the low mintage of just 12,600 double sets. Values decline through the 1958 double set. The 1959 edition saw a steep drop off, as 187,000 sets were sold.
Although the values of the sets cannot compare to the early issues, releases in 1970, 1973, and 1996 were also notable. They included the 1970-D Kennedy half dollar, the 1973-D and 1973-P Eisenhower half dollars, and the 1996-W Roosevelt dime, respectively. In all three cases, these coins were only available as part of the sets.
In 2019, collectors were treated to special issues from the US Mint. Each of the three annual sets included a penny with the “W” mint mark of the West Point Mint. Although pennies had previously been struck at the facility, never before had they borne its mint mark. In keeping with the theme of the set, the W-Lincoln cent released with the 2019 US Mint Uncirculated Coin Set was also an uncirculated piece.
To read more about this historic release, read this Info-Vault article titled, "U.S Mint to Treat Collectors with First Ever 2019-W Lincoln Cent!"
To learn more about the United States Mint's annual Proof Set release, which features one proof example of every piece of circulating coinage from a given year, read more on this Info-Vault article titled "Everything You Need to Know About Proof Sets."
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