The satin finish will no longer be used by the United States Mint for uncirculated US Mint Sets and other products, the agency announced last week. Instead, US Mint Sets will return to coins that feature a brilliant finish.
This change marks an end to a six-year run featuring the satin finish which was easily distinguishable owing to its frosted appearance. The United States Mint started using the surface treatment on US Mint Sets in 2005, stating at the time that "it is handsome and provides consistency for United States Mint uncirculated products."
The frosted look was achieved by burnishing the coin blanks before striking them with dies that had been sand-blasted. The method created a unique appearance for uncirculated coins which, up until that point, were indistinguishable from standard circulation business strikes.
In an explanation in moving to brilliant finishes, the Mint provided this statement:
"The satin finish… highlights surface marks that inherently result from the coin-handling systems. Although the United States Mint modified the process to improve the coin appearance, there is no cost-effective way to completely eliminate the coin-on-coin contact that causes surface nicks… This change will result in more aesthetically pleasing coins with a finish that does not highlight surface flaws."
The United States Mint indicates that the affected coins include only the uncirculated-quality one cent, nickel, dime, quarter-dollar, half-dollar and dollar. These are, of course, the coins included in annual US Mint Sets.
Going forward, collectors can trim the number of coins they collect due to the loss. Many collectors had been obtaining five different coins for each denomination since 2005 — one circulation quality Denver strike, one circulation quality Philadelphia strike, one satin uncirculated Denver strike, one satin uncirculated Philadelphia strike and one proof San Francisco strike. With the end of the satin option, there will only be three versions to collect.
The change might also alter product offerings other than US Mint Sets, such as those related to the new America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. Under the program which just debuted this year, the United States Mint created both an uncirculated coin set as well as a circulating coin set containing just the 2010-dated strikes of the series.