Today, June 4, 2012, the U.S. Mint released the final of its three core annual coin sets for the year, saving the one with 90% silver coins for last.
Core annual coin sets share collecting popularity, a wealth of annual releases dating back for many decades, and a range of coins that include versions of the ones issued into circulation during a year.
This year’s core sets, their release dates, and their U.S. Mint prices are:
- the 2012 Silver Proof Set on June 4 for $67.95,
- the clad 2012 Proof Set on May 7 for $31.95, and
- the 2012 U.S. Mint Uncirculated Coin Set, which is also known simply as the 2012 Mint Set, on May 21 for $27.95
Each of the above coin sets has a version of the Lincoln cent, Jefferson nickel, Roosevelt dime, Kennedy half dollar and this year’s unique designs of the:
- America the Beautiful Quarters – honoring El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, Acadia National Park in Maine, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, and Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska
- Native American $1 Coin
- Presidential $1 Coins – honoring Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland (first term), Benjamin Harrison, and Grover Cleveland (second term)
In the amount, types of coins and by U.S. Mint producing them, the two proof sets are most alike. All the coins in the clad Proof Set and Silver Proof set are produced in San Francisco and bear a "S" mint mark. All of them obviously have a finish of collector proof quality.
"Proof coins shimmer with brilliant, mirror-like background surfaces and frosted foregrounds," describes the Mint. "Proof blanks are specially treated, hand-polished, and cleaned to ensure high-quality strikes. The blanks are then fed into presses fitted with specially polished dies and struck at least twice."
Each of the proof sets has 14 coins. In fact, half of them, 7, are identical in every fashion.
The ONLY difference between the two sets other than packaging and price are the differing dimes, quarters and half dollar. They are minted with a standard clad composition in the Proof Set, and they are made of 90% silver in the Silver Proof Set.
As for the 2012 Mint Set, it is the least expensive of the three, but it has the most coins at 28. These are in uncirculated qualities.
"Uncirculated coins are struck on special presses using greater force than circulating coins, producing a sharp, intricately detailed image," the Mint explains.
Within the set are two folders containing 14 coins. One folder holds coins struck from the U.S. Mint at Denver and the other has coins from the U.S. Mint at Philadelphia. The 28 coins carry "P" or "D" mint marks.
These core annual coin sets may be purchased directly from the U.S. Mint website at http://www.usmint.gov/catalog, or by calling 1-800-USA-MINT (872-6468).