Be Glad You Waited — The Story of the U.S. 1999 Proof Set

Be Glad You Waited — The Story of the U.S. 1999 Proof Set

Dec 11th 2023

The collecting world is full of interesting facts, wonderful tidbits and amazing stories. Recently I was researching the 1999 U.S. proof set for a new offer we are putting together here at International Coins & Currency. I was reminded of the wild roller coaster ride that set created in the collecting market. This first proof set with State quarters was issued by the Mint for $19.95, but a few years later the very same set was selling for over $200 on the secondary market! It sounds amazing but it’s true.

The U.S. Mint initiated the unprecedented series in hopes of inspiring a new generation of collectors and expanding interest in numismatics. Here at ICC we were excited about the new quarter program, but like everyone in the collecting world we had no idea how the public would receive the new coins.

The U.S. Mint's 50 State Quarters Program began in 1999. Those initial five commemorative quarters were, of course, included in the 1999 U.S. proof set, making it the first nine-coin set in American history. The set was issued for $19.95, a significant price change from the $12.50 of previous sets.

Over the next nine years the Mint carried on with the commemorative series, eventually releasing 50 quarters with unique reverse engravings. Interest in the quarter series continued to grow and it eventually became the most successful numismatic program in history. That created a delayed demand for the 1999 proof set, featuring those initial five quarters.

The quarter specimens included in the year’s proof sets are the highest caliber and the most sought-after form of these commemorative coins. As the burgeoning program attracted a huge new audience, experienced collectors who had initial reservations about the series also jumped aboard the State quarter train, leading to the 1999 proof set's skyrocketing prices on the secondary market.

As with any coin or coin set, there are limited numbers minted and only a portion of those are ever available in the marketplace, as many are part of established collections. The limited availability of the 1999 proof set combined with high demand led to an amazing lift in the set’s cost.

The price for the 1999 set continually rose, reaching its peak in 2004 and 2005 when we offered the complete nine-coin set in our catalogs for over $200!

As the State quarter series became an accepted member of the numismatic community, prices for the landmark 1999 collector's set slowly stabilized and eventually came in line with other sets from the period.

Does that mean that any coin or set that is selling for well over its issue price will eventually return to affordability? Not necessarily, as every numismatic issue is different and no one can predict how any product will behave in the marketplace. But now is a good time to grab the 1999 U.S. proof set for your collection!