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Sets Mark Passage of Time
June 02, 2010

How do you feel when you are behind the wheel of a new car?

How did you feel when you walked into your new home for the first time as owner?

Wasn’t it a little bit like how you felt when you bought your first coin or collector set from the U.S. Mint?

I began thinking along these lines because I see that next month the Mint will offer collectors its standard issue proof and mint sets. With all of the products coming out of the Mint today, it is easy to give these traditional sets short shrift.

With gold and silver in the headlines and a continuing scramble by buyers to buy gold and silver, Eagles can make the proof and mint sets seem at best to be something of secondary interest.

For me, though, they always come to the fore first because of the mental associations I make with them. These issues are like birthdays, or a mile markers for me.

They tell me how far I have come in the hobby.

The very first proof set I ordered was the 1969 set. As chance would have it, that offering sold out in six days. That reinforced the sense that the set was special and I was privileged to own it.

Later it taught me that what goes up in price can also go down.

I think every collector has a memory of that first Mint acquisition in his mind.

For my generation of collector, it was the proof and mint sets because there was basically nothing else to be purchased from the Mint.

For other collectors it might be Ike dollars, Bicentennial coins, Prestige proof sets or since 1986 even the American Eagle coins that are today so much in the headlines.

What Mint product fills that place in your mind?

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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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