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Common Cents with Debbie Bradley

Not With a Bang, but With a Whimper
March 08, 2012

Shhhh. I’ve got a secret. But I’ll share.

The U.S. Mint is offering a 2012 Birth Set. It’s set for release at noon March 13.

Yes, for real. But for some reason, the Mint decided  not to say anything about it. Instead, it just popped up on the Mint’s list of new products at the end of February.

It’s the first time the U.S. Mint has offered a coin set to mark the year in which a child was born. And it’s not a random set of coins in a plastic holder.

It comes with a cute little card that will hold a baby photo, a lock of baby’s hair and five proof coins from the San Francisco Mint.

The five 2012-S proof coins are a Lincoln cent, a Jefferson nickel, a Roosevelt dime, an America the Beautiful quarter honoring El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico and a Kennedy half dollar.

The U.S. is a little late to the birth set game. Other Mints have been making money off the celebration for years. Britain’s Royal Mint offers three different sets, the Royal Canadian Mint has a set and The Perth Mint lets you choose from sets that feature a cuddly koala or baby dragon.

Then there are the precious metals companies that offer silver rounds with enamel overlays proclaiming “Baby’s First Birthday” and coin shops that will hand-select an assortment of coins and place them in a special folder.

It didn’t take long for the numismatic community to react once news of the 2012 Birth Set got out. If comments on hobby chat forums are any judge, the coin collecting community was under-whelmed.

As one commenter put it, “It’s totally unimpressive.”

Oh, yeah. The set costs $19.95.

But as one collector suggested, for another $12 you can buy a 2012 mint set. Put it in a nice card and you’ve made your own set.

So maybe that’s why the 2012 Birth Set made a timid entrance onto the numismatic scene. We finally have a U.S. Mint product with which to celebrate a family milestone, but it doesn’t exactly take your breath away.

Ho, hum. Maybe the Mint can add a balloon and some confetti to add a little pizzazz.


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About the Author
Debbie Bradley is the numismatics editorial director at Krause Publications. Debbie also writes for Numismatic News.Debbie has been with Krause Publications for 11 years, previously serving as managing editor of the book division. She was editor, and managing editor, of a daily newspaper in Wisconsin, and also was elected president of the Wisconsin Associated Press. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, she has received a national award for writing from the Education Writers of America, state writing awards from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the UW-EC Communication and Journalism Department. She is a member of the American Numismatic Association and Women in Numismatics. Debbie can be reached at

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