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What's That the Mint is Selling?
October 09, 2007

At noon Eastern Daylight Time today the U.S. Mint will begin selling mint sets.

It is not a major event when considered in the light of the excitement over First Spouse gold coins and special anniversary sets, but it is an annual bread-and-butter issue that many collectors count on to round out their collections with coins that they cannot get in circulation.

The level of interest is high if not frenzied, because I will receive letters telling me when readers get delivery and what they find inside. Will Denver coins be better quality than Philadelphia, or will it be the other way around this year?

Will there be interest in the Sacagawea dollar, which has been overshadowed by the Presidential dollar? We'll see. Bags and rolls of the Sac dollars have been available for some time, but the quantities issued so far are small compared to the law mandating the Mint strike quantities that equal one-third of the total of Presidential dollars struck.

Two thoughts cross my mind with the set's release. The first one is from the collector in me. I will buy a set. The second thought is the editor in me. Every year in recent years we have the jargon problem.

In collector parlance a mint set is simply a set of uncirculated coins from all of the mints striking them in a given year. This year we get a nice run of "P" and "D" coins. In years past, there could be "S" mints included.

Technically, a mint set can be assembled by either the U.S. Mint or a private firm. The term applies equally to both.

In recent years, the Mint has registered its own name for the set and it is a mouthful: "2007 United States Mint Uncirculated Coin Set." This term can only be used in reference to the official set created and packaged by the U.S. Mint.

In stories that I write, first reference will be the mouthful followed by the much shorter "mint set." The use of shorter terms is a necessity or no one would ever read a story, but I know there can be confusion. That will always happen, but I feel better having offered this explanation at the beginning of the sales period.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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