Mint set coins from normal strikes.

Discussion in 'US Coins Forum' started by bhp3rd, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. bhp3rd

    bhp3rd Die varieties, Gems

    This has been talked about in another thread but I want more to see it and get some very experienced Lincoln people in on it.

    Fact, literature (and the U.S. mint) state for most years of mint set Lincoln memorials coins (and other mint set singles) are not any different that coins made for circulation.

    I am not talking about the coins from 1986 to 2001, as the mint did strike these on special presses at denver and I am certainly not talking about satin mint set coins from 2005 to 2009!
    I am talking about the years the mint claimed no added special measures were taking in mint set singles production verses buisness strike coins!

    I insist when both coins are BU, I can tell mint set singles from made for circulation type coins in 1959 to date.
    I also insist I can do it almost every time in any given group or pile of coins. Further I can tell, teach or show you the difference. Probably more experienced collectors who can readily say tell apart proof for mint state and SMS coins - you would need some experience at least.

    What do you think?
    Can any of you readily tell the two apart.
    Do you think the mint at least did something different in coins made for mint sets whether they said so are not?
    Do you honestly think all those mint set singles we see with the extra glitter, strong strikes and sheen were taken from bins of other buisness type strike coin?

    I say it's like shooting fish in a barrel. I know others who also know this readily and comment on a coin being from a mint set when they at first have no other clue.

    One more thing, I don't only know I can tell the two apart and the mint did something different but I'm certain this indeed did happen.
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    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    You already know my thoughts on the subject - that being that you only think you can do what you claim you can do.
  4. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    I've looked through hundreds of thousands of BU circulation strike and mint set coinage since 1965. The differences are simply striking. It's really impossible to positively identify any given coin as mint set because circulation strikes do come as nice but given a large mixed pile I can separate them with about 99% accuracy for the mint set coins and 95% for circulation issues.

    I think it's the mint description of these coins as being the same as the circulation strikes that has caused so many collectors to miss the boat on moderns. They looked at the astounding mintages of the regular issues and the high mintages of the mint sets and just added them together which meant that there must be a near infinite number of all the newer coins in unc and they'd be with us almost forever. Because of this belief spurred by mint press releases they never even looked. What they would have seen is that many moderns weren't saved at all in unc because they were so dreadful; bad strikes, worn dies, and marked up. The mint set coins were tens times better but they were sure no prize. Most of these coins are badly marked up as well. If their only problems were strike or worn dies these could be overlooked since strikes and dies tend to be OK for mint set coins but there are so many problems that when one of these is nice it just pops out at you.

    Now over the years the mint sets have been mostly just trashed; lost to time and tide as well as damp basements and airy attics. The sets have gone unappreciated because people believed they only contained very common coins and the prices haven't been condusive to proper storage. These take up a lot of room so they don't get into temperature controled safety deposit boxes.

    Sure, the highest grades finally get some notice as a handfull of collectors compete for them but the perception that gems or coins in slightly lower grade are common is pervasive. If you think they are then you should try to find a nice clean near-Gem 1969 quarter. You can pull your hair out trying to find this "common" coin yet it lists for far less than the cost of slabbing and if you find one it might cost only a dollar or two. The whole mint set is obnly about $6.

    Lincolns are a little different for two reasons. Copper is a little softer so takes a strike better and large numbers of these exist in BU rolls. But softer also means they take marking easier and being a penny means they don't try as hard.

    I've found the gem cents to be much easier in mint sets as well but I've not checked rolls for decades since they were so bad.

    One of these days people are going to wake up and realize there's nearly half a century of coins that have been ignored out there and they mostly are all awful. Mostly they're in circulation and the uncs can be tough and all the gems are. As soon as they turn to mint sets, the very day thaty mint sets get any demand, they'll be all gone. The only reason these are around is that no one wants them. Most have already been destroyed because of their low price or because someone wanted a certain nice half dollar or something out of one. They've been flooded and burned.

    Their day is coming.
  5. WashQuartJesse

    WashQuartJesse Member Supporter

    Wonderful post as always Clad!

    I pulled my hair out doing this!



    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    OK clad, I agree with most of what you say. And have never disputed that Mint Set coins are typically nicer (meaning condition) than what you may find in rolls, bags or circulation.

    But - Ben's claim is that Mint Set coins have an entirely different and recognizable finish than ordinary business strikes.

    Do you agree with this claim or not ?
  7. bhp3rd

    bhp3rd Die varieties, Gems

    Doug I think much, not quite entirely different, (to me entirely) and with a finish easily seen with some experience. That also I can teach people what I see with some, maybe more/maybe less coaching depending.
    We have said a lot of things in the other thread and what's easy for me may be and probably is harder for some and I hold with all I said.
    What I have said is I can tell them easy from buisness strikes, some maybe will have much more trouble. I mean I can look at 50 wheats for die varieties in less than 5 minutes, many cannot not.

    I can see the 2 seperate and apart form each other easy and have to conclude with that much differentce they are different - I have no way (a the moment) to prove it other than teaching someone or keep digging for the truth in this matter or showing someone how I can see it.

    I cannot be the only one who sees this - that would be absurd.
    I agree, entirely to me, maybe mostly for some and very little for others. It just would depend on their experience level.

    I will repeat, the mint set coins are much different than buiness strikes in all years since 1959 some greater some less but I can pick em out like black beans in a bowl of mashed potatoes anyday of the week.

    For me to think that any mint set coins were pulled from hoppers full of buiness strikes is the farthest thing from the truth - it just can't be.
  8. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector


    There might be a slight truth to it since some finishes are almost impossible in mint sets and some almost impossible in circulation issues but I don't aghree with it. Mint set coins are struck under higher pressure but I can't tekll just by looking at any parameter of the coin.
  9. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    I really should add that since 1985 the mint has burnished a lot of planchets for the mint sets and these are not often seen in circulation issues.

    I can't dispute this claim entirely because I know for a fact that people can teach themselves to see some pretty subtle things. I'm not even sure of all the things I use to tell them apart really. But I'm sure I can't see it at this time.

    I'm interested in the oither thread mentioned.

  10. Cladking: Are there any mint set years that you particularly recommend. Thanks, TC
  11. Duke Kavanaugh

    Duke Kavanaugh The Big Coin Hunter

    Wasn't this in another thead...or did that thread run out of entry spaces. There must be a max of entries allowed ;D
  12. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    I should also add that the mint never did claim these were just snatched from regular production runs. They've been exceedingly secretive about them until about 1996. Tom Delorey wrote an article about them for Coinage about that time called the "Mint's Secret Coins". He was actually given a partial tour of the area where the coins were made and handled but they wouldn't allow photographs. Up until this time the only thing they'd say about mint set coins was some variation of "they are just regular coins".

    But even a most casual observer would see that these are not at all like regular coins. Regular coins were almost always banged up aftyer being weakly struck by worn and misaligned dies. I used to sample hundreds of different quarter dies (thiousands of rolls) each year looking for nice ones to set aside and many years the best I'd find wouldn't be as nice as the average mint set coin. It was quite obvious these were specially made and more carefully handled. The claim they were just plucked off the line was obviously wrong. Since 1996 they've become much more open about these coins. They now admit they are struck on the old vertical presses at slower speeds and higher pressure. This provides more time for all the parts of the die to fill in meaning far betteer strikes. Instead of 750,000 coins per die they are changed after only 30,000 strikes and then used to strike regular coins. Normally the dies are exactly the same but mint set dies are sometimes basined (flattened) or partially basined.

    The mint site even gives a guided tour of the numismatic coin prioduction fascilities.

    The bottom line is that a few coins made for circulation can be quite stunning. They can even be highly PL and very very gem. Mint set coins are often dogs even though most of the dogs are well struck and virtually all are struck by new dies.

    Mint sets are not the be all end all of modern circulation issue collecting for a few reasons. For one all moderns don't even appear in mint sets. Most varieties don't appear in mint sets as well. Also some mint set coins are almost invariably bad and you're better off finding rolls if there are any.
  13. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    I'm not sure.

    I think most people are better off collecting than investing and I hate seeing investment in my favorite area and don't want to encourage it.

    But the reason I'm not sure is that most everything depends on the specific individual mint set. While, by far, 1969 is my favorite date the fact is only about every 4th 1969 mint set has a nice coin in it. It's also a matter of cost relative to value. I'm not real impressed by a nice attractive 1969-D dime since these aren't that tough but some of the other coins in this set are much tougher. Now days this date has a huge premium and I wouldn't want to pay such a large premium for a mediocre set.

    Another set like the '72-D comes really nice. Most of these set will have two or three nice coins and even the bad ones won't be too bad. The set premium is much lower but ofd course all these coins are much more common. Some of the later sets like the '92 rarely has any nice coins (other than cents whgich are common for '92) so these tend to be a waste.

    I like nice coins and I like them a lot more whebn they are tough. I'd much rather have a nice gem 1969 quarter than a basketfull of 1972 sets even if there are gems. But I'd much rather have a nice attractive 1972 set than a dull or typical 1969.

    I like the '70 set but these have to have a decvent half (only 50% do) or you're paying a $20 premium. For $20 you can get a nice handfull of gemmy '84-P quarters from mint sets.

    I can tell you my favorite dates but if you just try to buy these to set aside you'll be severely limiting your opportunity and any future return. They are '69, '75, '91, '66, '68, '71, and '78. But they all present opportunities. Like the '80 mint set has a very very rare half dollar in it about .5% of the time. Many of the Denver issues are quite gem but then they recieved shallow scrapes while being inserted into mint sets. There's evidence that 1980 was the first year this process was mostly automated. About 3% of the coins don't have these scrapes and and every sixth one is a nice clean coin with a decent strike.

    1978 mint sets often have very gemmy Ikes. Indeed there is a lot of variability in attractiveness and the gems of all denominations stand head and shoulders above the rest. Even the Denver cents come nice about 2% of the time.

    I think everyone should collect moderns. :whistle:

    But, of course, some people don't like them and never will. But there are opportunities whether you like them or not. I started with a purely investment perspective but over the years my primary foicus is shifting to collecting them.

    One thing detractors should remember is that the '70-S sm date is very very common in mint sets and appear in 10% of sets. But gems can be as scarce as .1% and are never more common that 8% (except for zincolns). Not everyone collects varieties like the small date but every single clad collector will need each date. It's really not sustainable that rare coins like gem 1969 quarters will sell for a few dollars. Eventually the ready supply in mint sets simply won't exist any longer and the demand will have to focus on the singles and these just aren't out there available for sale. Already about two tghirds of the '69 mint sets arte gone forever and a quarter of the survivors have damaged coins. They aren't making these anymore than they are making large cents.
  14. Thanks for the thoughtful response. I am not looking for an investment. I am interested in Washington quarters. To date, I have focused on 1932-1964 but may want to expand into the clads. TC
  15. Pocket Change

    Pocket Change Coin Collector

    Funny timing for this thread.

    I'm interested in the 1963 mint set and was just on e-bay looking. The VAST majority of offerings are either the P-set or the D-set. There are far fewer "complete" P and D sets.

    Is the era of complete mint sets being cheap as dirt coming to an end?

    Of course, I know you can slap any P and any D set together and call them "original", but I think the number of P or D sets selling individually points out how they have been scavaged over the years.
  16. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    Very interesting. Thanks for the info.

    There's little doubt thatr the era of cheap mint sets will come to an end but I'm not convinced it's now. It will take a continuing increase in dsemand which exceeds the supply of sets flowing into the market from original owners. Twenty years ago a shop might buy an average of ten of these sets a week and five would be so cheap they'd be cut up and put in the cash register. The other five would accumulate until after about a year they'd be shipped off to a wholesaler where they were usually cut up for singles but 10 or 20% would be retailed intact. The dealer had huge stocks of mint sets most of trhe time but most of the guys in corner shops couldn't sell more than a few sets a month if that.

    What dealers ship off to the wholesalers is the effective supply and this is and has always been ample.

    Now days though far fewer sets come in especially of the early dates because there aren't that many left. Also most dealers do a much batter business in these sets than they used to and can retail lots of sets over the counter. But they still accumulate more than they need except for the 1969 set which is getting tougher. These don't build up as quickly in stock so they get shipped less often meaning the supply of singles will eventually get a little tighter.

    The first sign that mint sets are getting too scarce for demand will ironically be a surge in bid prices for BU rolls as the set makers can't get sufficient supply. This will cause mint set prices to increase in order to bring in more sets for destruction but it will be different next time. The costs of shipping is higher and the supplies held by dealers are not as deep as in the past. Even faiurly large increases in bid price for mint sets will not much affect the numbers flowing to the wholesalers. If human nature holds true this will cause increased demand across the board.

    And the effective supply just keeps decreasing year after year. There was a time that you could go to almost any coin shop and look at twenty or thirty 1969 mint sets. Now days you don't see these much. There's lots of demand but it's very price sensitive because people expect their moderns to be cheap. When market forces really wake up though there won't even be enough supply for the demand that isn't as price sensitive.

    Jakes is one of the largest retailers of mint sets in the country and they stopped offering the 1969 for sale nearly a year ago. A few others have as well. As I said the currebnt situation is unsustainable. It has some earmarks of a promotion but it looks even more like a market that's badly out of balance and just awaiting a trigger.

    I figure there are only about 2000 fairly nice 1969 quarters still available and they go for a few dollars each. In 1964 the '50-D nickel had 2,000,000 coins available and they went for $250 each in today's money. I believe the comparison is apt because most modern collec tors are seeking nice examples and back in 1964 they didn't much care what their '50-D nickel looked like.
  17. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    This is the - Other Thread

    Yes, they are struck under higher pressures- today. And according to published info they have been since the late '80s. But what about the Mint Set coins issued before the lat '80s ? Those are the coins in question. You address it somewhat in your next post -

    - Like above. You seemingly contradict yourself in the first sentence and the last.

    OK, let's pin it down a little more, be more specific. When you make that claim do you mean any and all Mint Set coins from any year ? Or just those from the past 20+ years.

    Yes, this is true. But according to published information this process of being struck on special presses at higher pressures can only be applied to Mint Set coins issued after the late '80s. Again, according to the published information that we do have, prior to the late '80s Mint Set coins were taken from regular production runs. You seemingly support that contention in your next comments.

    This is another example of where you need to be a bit more specific clad. Do the above 2 paragraphs apply to any and all Mint Set coins - or - just those issued from the late '80s onwards ? This is why this discussion can be so confusing.

    There are really 2 issues here, maybe even 3. And those issues are what started this discussion. They are -

    1 - Ben claims that he postively identify any coin as having come from a Mint Set, clear back to 1959, because he believes that the Mint Set coins have a different & identifiable finish from ordinary bussiness strikes.

    It is Ben's belief that there is something special about Mint Set coins, that either the planchets, the dies, or both, underwent some special preparation that sets them apart from regular business strikes.

    2 - The mint claims that prior to 1986 (Ben's date but it jives with the time period as I recall it) all Mint Set coins were taken from regular production runs. Your words clad were that "they are just ordinary coins" or something to that effect. Either way, it's basically the same thing - semantics.

    The mint further admits that post 1986 all Mint Set coins were struck on special presses and at higher pressures. But there is no mention, ever, of any special preparation to the planchets or dies. Thus Mint Set coins of this period, though they are typically found to be in higher grades than regular business strikes of the same time period, have no special characteristics or finish that sets them apart from regular business strikes.

    Thus it is possible, and with some dates even highly likely, that the coins grading the highest came from regular business strikes and not from Mint Sets.

    And the 3rd possible issue is this - is there more than 1 date, another date besides 1986, that the mint made changes in their production of Mint Set coins ?

    For example, I have never heard anyone claim that Mint Set coins from the late '40s and through the '50s came from anyplace else besides regular production runs. The mint claims that they all did until 1986. So, is there another cut-off point where changes were made ?

    My contention is this, there never was anything special done to Mint Set coins prior to 1986. They all came from the same planchets and the same dies as the regular business strikes. There is no special finsih on Mint Set coins - either before or after 1986 - until 2005 when the mint switched to the satin finish for Mint Set coins.

    The only scenario regarding Mint Set coins that I have any belief in would be they were probably always struck with new dies - but on the same presses, from the same batch of planchets, and with the same dies that were later used (after the Mint Set coins were struck) to strike the business strike production runs.

    Conclusion -

    Yes, as a general rule Mint Set coins issued prior to 1986 are usually found to be of a higher grade than typical business strikes. And for this reason and this reason alone they are identifiable to a certain degree.

    Mint Set coins issued after 1986 were struck on special presses, under higher pressure than regular business strikes. And they were given more careful handling resulting in coins of a typical higher grade and with a better strike than regular business strikes. And for this reason and this reason alone they are identifiable to a certain degree.

    But by no means, for any date prior to 2005, is there any way to categorically and positively identify any coin as having come from a Mint Set, unless you yourself take that coin directly from a Mint Set.
  18. saltysam-1

    saltysam-1 Junior Member

    Could an identifiable senario exist simply because of the packaging, especially but not limited to, air contact?
  19. grizz

    grizz numismatist

    .....eye tiring to say the least. :goof:
  20. cladking

    cladking Coin Collector

    Thanks for the link. I'll read it later.

    They have been struck with new dies at loweer speed and higher pressure since 1965. There were no significabnt changes in '86 except that some planchets were burnished or partially so. But the mint used polished planchets even before this for some mint set coins; most notably during the SMS years.

    It's the mint who seems to contradict themselves. Actually I believe their words were literally true in terms of their own definitions but they were very misleading to collectors. All you have to do is look at these earlier coins to see they are different than regular production runs.

    Since 1965. They moved the proof bset presses to San Francisco and despite all the changes since the mint set coins essentially remained SMS coins but with less attention to finish.

    I'm sure the mint never said it didn't apply to older coins; this nis just when terminology changed. If I'm mistaken here I'd be interested in knowing and would be willing to argue the point with the mint. 1985 mint sets can speak for themselves though.

    I'm dubious but will keep an open mind. I'm even more dubious about the '59 to '64 sets.

    I'm confident this is untrue. The mint never claimed they were just pulled from regular production runs between '65 and '86 so far as I know and I paid a lot of attention to such things. Their words were to the effect that these are just ordinary BU coins. People jumped to conclusions.

    Special handling of planchets and/ or dies is not universal for any date at all though it comes very close on the '67 mint set. Almost all these dies were basined and polished in '67. In most years only a few planchets get polished and these are not uniformly polished like proof set coins. Some are good and some are barely polished at all. For some dates they are very very scarce. Perhaps these are rejects from proof set manufacture. It's the same with the dies except in most years there's less variability between dies. For a few years there is almost no variability. These dies are actually basined in some cases but usually the "extra" is something else like sand blasting or polishing.

    Yes. It depends on the denomination but there's nothing preventing the finest coins from any given year from having been made for circulation. Primarily this seems to affect Ikes and cents but, remember, the greatest strenght of mint set coins is strike and die quality. If you prefer well made coins then most moderns come nicest in sets. If you prefer clean surfaces then some come nicest in rolls abnd this especially applioes to cents and Ikes. Of course the issue is acedemic for dimes and quarters since there weren't any rolls of these saved to compare.

    Oh sure. They tweeked production quite often and changed designs every few years. Sometimes they made little changes right in the middle of the year but these tend to be very minor like packaging changes.

    I don't feel competent to comment on the pre-'65 mint sets. I've simply never been satisfied with the idea they were plucked from production runs but they don't appear to be specially made eiither.

    I'm quite confident you're wrong. The switch to the satin finish in 2005 was actually one of their more minor changes. It merely involved chromium plating the finished dies. The appearance changed a lot but the cause was minor.

    It varied so much year to year that most statements can be largely true. Regular planchets are roughed up to better be handled by the automated equipment but mint set planchets often escaped this treatment. Dies were almost always changed before 30,000 strikes except on 1968 coins but the real newness of a die is usually worn off in only a dozen strikes. Imagine trying to find this coin among those made for circulation. It's one in 75,000 rather than one in 2,800. If you can find an old clad quarter roll (not bicentennial since these can be nice) just compare it to some fresh mint sets of the same date. I used to look through tens of thousands of BU coins each year and couldn't even find a single coin as nice as the average mint set coin most of the time. It was really cheap to set aside nice quarters if you could find them but only some years were available nice. Every year mint set coin comes nice at least 15% of the time. That's a huge difference; .0001% or less and at least 15%. These could not have been made the same way.

    What's truly ironic here is that it's right at 1986 (maybe '88) that really top end coins start getting exceedingly tough. Look at the pops if you don't believe it. Some of these are so frustrating since they look like branch mint proofs they are so pretty but they'll usually have gouges and a scratch right acroos them. No, the only big deal in '86 was that they started making the coins shinier and they processed the dies more.

    As I said before I can separate these even after they wear a little in circulation with good accuracy. As far as doing consistently or knowing all the ways I do it, I don't know. I also can't state categorically that someone couldn't do it better than I and use a teachable method.
  21. GDJMSP

    GDJMSP Numismatist Moderator

    Well, I really don't know what to say clad. You and I have known each other for what, 10 years now ? And over the course of that time we have had many enjoyable conversations. But this would mark the first that I can recall where we ever disagreed on something.

    A couple more comments and questions and I'll let this dead horse lie quietly.

    First the comments - Ron Guth and Bill Gale have this to say, and I quote - "Mint Sets are assembled by pulling coins out of bins full of coins struck for general release into circulation."

    And - "Without the original, sealed packaging, it is impossible to tell if a coin came from a Mint Set or from circulation."

    These quotes come from the book on US Proof & Mint Sets written by these gentlemen.

    Now I wish I could find the book where it talks about when the mint switched over from taking Mint Set coins from circulation runs - and the date at which this happend. But I cannot, I can't even recall which book it is. Perhaps Ben can be of help there.

    I can recall that the US MInt web site used to have a page where they described the minting of the Mint Set coins, but even that is no longer there, not that I can find anyway. And I can recall several articles over the years published in Coin World and Numismatic News that supported my contentions. But again I could not even attempt to cite which issues.

    Now a question - in your previous comments you mentioned basining. Well, basining basically has 2 definitions. One applies only to coins made prior to 1916. That definition refers to the curvature of the fields of a coin die. This was done to allow the relief of the devices to strike up in the middle of the coin, but yet allow those devices to remain below the level of the rim and thus be protected by the rim. I'm reasonably certain you are not talking about that definition.

    The other definition of basining refers to the use of a flat zinc plate or disk that is set upon a rotating shaft. This rotating zinc disk is then used to polish coin dies prior to their use to strike coins. This type of basining is also done after a die has been used, to remove excessive flow lines and or clash marks.

    This same type of basining is performed on Proof dies. But it is done with a zinc plates that have a progressively finer and finer finish on them. It is this basining of the Proof dies that imparts to them the mirror like finish of the fields.

    So basically, every coin die ever made is basined.

    So I can only conclude that you are saying that the Mint Set coin dies were specially prepared and that these dies were polished to a higher degree than the dies that were to be used for circulation coinage.

    So am I correct ?

    One last thing, you mentioned that people were jumping to conclusions about the mint's comments that Mint Set coins were taken from circulation runs.

    Are you not also jumping to conclusions by saying that they were not ? Or do you have or know of any documentation that supports your contention ?

    I'm pretty sure you don't clad, or I would likely know about it too - and I don't. So I respectfully submit to you that the reason that Mint Set coins, at least those made prior to whenever the mint changed their process - whenever that was, - are nicer because they were struck with new dies. And that that is the end of the story. It's just that simple.

    I guess we shall have to agree to disagree.
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