A Dave's Collectible Coins Article

Useful Information and Tips on Mint Sets & Cello Coins

Producing an adequate quantity of coins for common use has often been a challenge.

The U.S. stopped producing coins for collectors in 1942. Metals were in too great a demand for the war effort for proof coins to be produced.

A few years after the war ended, in 1947, the U.S. Mint once again decided to create coins for collectors. They could not yet produce proof coins. So they decided to put together SETS of common coins. These sets would include an example of every coin minted that year.

The first “Mint Sets” were distributed by the U.S. Mint in 1947. The sets included TWO of each coin minted that year. For this reason, they are referred to as “Double Mint Sets”. The intention was that having two of each coin would allow the collector to put both sides of each coin on display.

The Double Mint Sets were housed in cardboard cut-out holders. On one side, there was a paper glued in place. On the other side, there was simply a paper to help protect the coins. One cardboard was included in the set for each mint: Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Because of the sulfur content in the cardboard, many of the coins developed interesting toning.

The Double Mint Set was produced for several years. In 1950 the U.S. Mint once again began producing Proof Sets. This was quite a feat. In the past, proof coins were often available, but they would have to be ordered individually from the mint. The mint felt that with Proof Sets available, no one would be interested in Double Mint Sets. Collectors complained and in 1951, they started producing both Proof Sets and Double Mint Sets.

The Double Mint Set continued until 1958. In 1959 a new Mint Set was assembled, using cellophane to hold the coins in place. As both sides of a single coin could be displayed in the cellophane, there was no longer a need to send out two examples of each coin.

Do your research when purchasing Double Mint Sets. These sets can command a large price. Yet, toning can be faked. Less valuable coins could be put into a partial set to make it look like a full set. While doing research I found a Double Mint Set for sale that was wrapped in cellophane. Of course, those early sets came in cardboard, not cellophane. So, you have to do your own research and be sure you’re getting the real thing.

From the cellophane packaging we get the term “Cello Coin”. This is a coin that is still in its protective cellophane, but has been cut from the rest of the package so that it can be sold individually.

Hard times occur when there is not enough coin to keep up with the commerce of the day. Such occurrences often happened in the early days of our country, when the Founding Fathers and others attempted to move the states over to ONE currency (instead of using foreign currency and money or tokens created locally). It happened again in 1959. There was a great coin shortage.

Several reasons exist why the shortage began. One reason is that the value of silver was rising sharply and people began hording their silver coins in hopes of selling them for their silver value. By 1965 legislation passed to mint the coins with metals not so valuable as silver.

Coin collectors were blamed as being part of the cause of the coin shortage. Eva Adams, the director of the mint at that time, promoted this idea. As a result, for the years of 1965, 1966 and 1967 no proof coins were produced. And, she removed the mint marks from common coins as well.

In spite of restrictions imposed on coin minting at the time, there was a set made available to collectors. It was called a “Special Mint Set”. The coins were not proofs, but there was a cameo (a frosty texture) applied which is visible on some of the coins. The nicely frosted ones demand a higher price. The 1965 Special Mint Set was packaged in cellophane with an envelope. Both 1966 and 1967 came in a protective plastic case.

1968 saw the return of both proof sets and Mint Sets. Mint marks were once again stamped on coins.

To commemorate the Bicentennial of the U.S.A., in 1976, a Mint Set minted with a silver dollar, half dollar and quarter was produced. These coins were 40% silver.

There were no Mint Sets produced in 1981 and 1982. Upon its return in 1983, there was no dollar coin included. Instead, there were tokens for the Philadelphia and Denver mints.

1996 saw the introduction of a specially minted Roosevelt dime from the West Point mint in the Mint Set of that year. It was not released broadly.

The year 2000 saw the reintroduction of the dollar coin to the Mint Set. The Sacagawea dollar has graced these sets ever since.

Coins in Mint Sets from 2005 to 2010 had a “satin” finish created by specially treating the dies. These coins have a distinctive look and feel to them, different from any other coin.

A “Brilliant” finish was added to Mint Set coins from 2011 forward. They are minted with more care to achieve higher quality and more detailed designs.

Double Mint Sets, Mint Sets and Cello Coins are a big part of coin history and would make a brilliant addition to your collection.

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