What are your favorite collectible series? Having been a part of the numismatic industry for over three decades I am familiar with a wide range of options and Prestige proof sets are a true favorite. I like these little-known sets as they combine superb proof minting, splendid packaging, low-mintages and even some silver content!
As a history lover I am a fan of the exceptional commemorative coin program introduced by the U.S. Mint in the early 1980s. Struck in dollar and half dollar denominations, these limited mintage issues feature unique one year only engravings that include some of the most admired designs in U.S. minting history, honoring people, places and events important to our great county.
The success of the new program was no doubt a factor in the launch of the Mint’s next addition to their lineup. Special edition Prestige proof sets were introduced in 1983 and would continue to be issued until 1997 — this low mintage format combined the five annual specimens of standard clad sets with one and sometimes two commemorative issues – the best of both worlds, right? Surely that, coupled with a handsome, book-like presentation case would add to the desirability of Prestige sets.
But remarkably, this series flew under the radar as most collectors continued to purchase the components of Prestige sets separately. The result? These collectible sets have become by far the scarcest form of these coins. And surprisingly they are often the most affordable option as well!
Even today many collectors are unaware of the great gulf in scarcity between Prestige sets, commemoratives and regular proof sets. Here’s a great example: in 1993, the Mint produced 2.4 million standard five-coin proof sets; 534,001 Bill of Rights silver dollars and 586,315 silver halves — yet only 224,093 Prestige sets that combined all three offerings! Other Prestige proof sets have similar output numbers.
Savvy collectors will also notice that the cost of buying a regular proof set and the year’s commemorative proofs separately is often more than what you’ll pay for the scarcer Prestige set which contains the same coin assortment. And with these historic sets you have the added benefit of the striking packaging, which not only protects the coins but provides an attractive display option as well.
Over the years many Prestige proof sets have been broken up and as with any numismatic item this decreased availability makes the remaining sets more valuable. As of now these little-known sets remain an affordable option and might be just the thing to add some pizazz to your collection.