The U.S. Mint has been producing silver proof sets since 1936, and over the past 77 years, there have been millions of silver proof sets minted. During that time, the number of silver proof sets produced has varied substantially, and as you would expect, lower mintage runs tend to sell at a premium over high production years. While the number of silver proof sets produced in any year is one of the primary factors affecting the value of these coins, it’s not the only factor. In this article, we’ll discuss several factors that affect the value of your coins and will highlight the most valuable sets so that you’re well prepared when the time comes to sell silver proof sets.
As mentioned above, the number of silver proof sets produced is the primary factor affecting their value. The lowest produced silver proof sets, and therefore, the most valuable were minted in 1956 and earlier. The lowest mintage silver proof set produced was in the inaugural year of 1936, with a production run of only 3,837. Sealed examples of this set in mint condition can run upwards of $6,000 and are very difficult to come by. After 1956, the U.S. Mint typically produced silver proof sets in the millions; however, a few exceptions exist, which we’ll discuss in further detail.
Examples of valuable silver proof sets produced after 1956 are the 1995-S Prestige set, the 1996-S Prestige set and the 1997-S Prestige set. The rarest of the Prestige sets is the 1996-S with a mintage of only 55,000. In addition to the above mentioned Prestige sets, the 1999-S silver proof set is a highly sought after set. This set had a production run of just over 800,000 sets and is popular amongst silver coin investors and coin collectors alike.
Merely having one of the low mintage silver proof sets in your possession doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to capitalize on the full value of your set. Other factors that affect the value of your silver coins include the condition of the silver proof envelope (and if your set is sealed), if the original government paperwork is present, the condition of the cellophane packaging and if the coins in your set have any tarnishing, environmental issues, etc.
If you happen to be fortunate enough to have one of the older silver proof sets in a sealed envelope, it’s important to not break the seal. Even though you’re unable to confirm the condition of the coins in a sealed envelope, the assumption is that the coins are in pristine condition and that you’ll be paid accordingly for the sets. If you have a proof set without an envelope, you may have few takers for your item, so it’s important to not separate the coins from the envelope. Damaged envelopes, envelopes with writing, incomplete paperwork in the envelope, and toning/tarnishing of the coins are all factors that can significantly affect the value of your sets.
If you’re not lucky enough to have one of the silver proof sets highlighted above, you should not expect much more than the silver content of your silver proof sets, as modern 90% silver coins (those minted after 1964) are in less demand than 90% silver coins minted in 1964 and earlier. Of course, there are a few exceptions, so it’s important to check with your coin dealer of choice to see if you happen to have a set that sells for more than the silver content of the coins before you sell your silver proof sets.