On November 25, the Mint will release the 2016 Limited Edition Silver Proof Sets. For clues to the specifics and sales performance of the sets, Mint News Blog takes a look at the past performances of earlier Limited Edition Silver Proof Sets, which debuted in 2012.
Each set from 2012 through 2014 contained the 90% silver Proof versions of that year’s Roosevelt dime, Kennedy half dollar, and five America the Beautiful quarter dollars, along with a Proof strike of the year’s 99.9% fine American Silver Eagle. Although the Mint has made adjustments to the packaging (more on that shortly), the basic package has remained the same: all eight coins encased in a flat, square lens, housed in a premium box with a flip-up lid. The coins stand out beautifully against a black-and-silver background. Each set to date has contained 2.338 troy ounces of silver, and has had a product limit of 50,000.
The first two years of the product went well. The 2012 set debuted on November 27 of that year, with the price set at $149.95 and the household ordering limit set at 2. With silver at $34 an ounce, the melt value of the coins was around $80. Although the coins could be purchased separately for about $30 less than the cost of the set, the premium was deemed acceptable by the public, and nearly 19,300 sets were sold during the first week. The Mint declared the sets sold out five months after their introduction. The final, audited sales figure, according to the Guide Book of United States Coins, was 44,952.
When the 2013 set debuted, silver was down to $19.80 per ounce, and the retail price of the set was established a little lower—although not proportionally so—at $139.95. The silver content was valued at about $46.30, but collectors were still fans of the product, and again the sets were declared sold out after about five months. The last known sales figure from the Mint was 48,074.
The launch of the 2014-dated LESPS was delayed until March 17, 2015, due to issues with the packaging. Silver was down to $15.50 per ounce, bringing the metal value of the sets down to $36.25, yet the price remained the same as the previous year: $139.95. The public responded accordingly, and after eight months, just over 39,000 were reported sold. The sets concluded the year with a last known sales figure of 42,614, after which they were pulled—not for lack of sales, however, but because of an issue that would affect all products containing numismatic Silver Eagles.
As calendar year 2016 approached, the Mint was once again having issues with the packaging. The release date for the 2015-dated sets had to be put off until November 23. Although silver was down to $13.98 per ounce, the retail price was still intended to be $139.95, which meant the sets would cost more than $100 over their melt value of about $32.70. That was about to become a moot point, however, thanks to a bill working its way toward the president’s desk: the Bullion and Collectible Coin Production and Efficiency Cost Savings Act. One of the provisions of the law was that, during calendar year 2016, all American Silver Eagle Proof and Uncirculated coins would have to carry the legend “30th Anniversary” incused into a plain edge. Whether intentionally or inadvertently, the law applied not only to coins struck with the 2016 date but to all numismatic ASEs sold by the Mint in 2016. The best route for the Mint was to discontinue all products containing 2015 Proof and Uncirculated ASEs after December 31, and to cancel the 2015 Limited Edition Silver Proof Set outright.
The absence of a 2015 set may have stirred a bit of interest in the older sets on ebay, but if it did, the effect was short-lived. Currently, the 2013 and 2014 sets are not performing well, typically selling for about $90 to $120. The 2012 sets fare better, and tend to bring around $200.
In a year full of presidential-election drama, market-watchers have predicted that the election of Donald Trump would drive up bullion values. In the waning days leading up to the polls, market reactions seemed to bear this out. If gold and silver continue their current upward trend, the 2016 LESPS will be a better retail value than its predecessor. Unfortunately, many collectors’ budgets have long since been depleted by the Mint’s 2016 catalog. Unless the premium on the LESPS is extremely low relative to the price of silver, those with money to spend may opt for strictly bullion purchases.
For die-hard fans of Proof sets, however, melt value and aftermarket performance won’t matter. The beauty of the sets—and they are very handsome—means there will be sales. Just maybe not a sellout. ❒
APMEX stocks all of the previous Limited Edition Silver Proof Sets, along with other U.S. Mint gold and silver coins.