U.S. Proof Sets
Prior to 1936, the U.S. Mint did not make regular Proof Sets of the year’s coins. Instead, they would make “proof” editions of coins for special occasions – such as the visit of a dignitary – or if requested by a prominent collector. Proofs are far superior to coins made for circulation: they are double-struck on polished coin blanks to produce high-relief images and mirrored backgrounds.
Perhaps the most famous example of an early proof coin is the 1804 Silver Dollar – which was actually struck in the early 1830’s. Only eight coins were made, and the most famous example was given by President Andrew Jackson to King Ph'ra Nang Klao (Rama III) of Siam (now Thailand) as a diplomatic gift in 1836. It was part of a complete 10-piece Proof Set of silver and gold U.S. coins made specially by the U.S. Mint for the State Department to give as diplomatic gifts – but since no silver dollars had been made since 1804, the 1804 coin was included in the set to make it complete.
The 10-coin “King of Siam” Proof Set sold for $8.5 million in 2005, and a single 1804 Silver Dollar proof sold for a then-world record of $4,140,000 in 1999.
Although proof editions of individual coins were often made, it was not until 1936 that the U.S. Mint began to assemble complete Proof Sets of the year’s circulating coins. Since then, Proof Sets have become extremely sought-after as the ultimate examples of the year’s circulating coin designs.
2016 U.S. Proof Set
The 2016 U.S. Proof Set features a proof example of each of the year’s 13 coins with “circulating” designs. The coins are encased in three clear plastic lenses to protect the coins – because proof coins must never be touched, since doing so will damage the surfaces and destroy the value of the coins.
The 13 coins included in the 2016 Proof Set are:
Five National Parks Quarters:
- Shawnee National Forest in Illinois
- Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky
- Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota
- Fort Moultrie (Fort Sumter National Monument) in South Carolina
Three Presidential Dollars:
- Richard M. Nixon
- Gerald R. Ford
- Ronald Reagan
One Native American Dollar:
- Code Talkers
Four “Regular” Coins:
- Lincoln Penny
- Jefferson Nickel
- Roosevelt Dime
- Kennedy Half Dollar