The era of modern commemorative coins brought not only a multitude of new coin issues, but also a proliferation of packaging options and special products created to highlight or compliment the coins. The most basic type of commemorative coin set offered by the United States Mint would combine different mint marks, denominations, or finishes into a single multi coin set. Later products would incorporate other coins, medals, stamps, and currency which followed the theme of the program. Other products would include educational information, reproductions of historical documents, intaglio prints, and sometimes more unusual or unexpected items.
Starting in 1983, the United States Mint began offering multi-coin sets, which incorporated two or more coins from a single commemorative program. In some cases, the sets included all of the different mint marks for a certain coin. In other cases, they included both the proof and uncirculated versions of the coin. Larger scale sets might include each of the designs issued for a particular program in proof version, uncirculated version, or both. In general, these sets allowed collectors to order the different coins from a program within a single product, usually at a lower price than the cumulative individual prices.
In 1994, the US Mint offered a multi-coin set which included three coins from three individual programs. This was the U.S. Veterans Three Coin Set, which included the POW Silver Dollar, Women in Military Service Silver Dollar, and Vietnam Memorial Silver Dollar.
The most expansive multi-coin set was the 1995-1996 Olympics 32 coin set. This included proof and uncirculated versions of the four half dollars, eight silver dollars, and four gold coins that were issued for the program.
The last multi-coin set issued for a commemorative program was the 2008 Bald Eagle 3 Coin Set, which included the proof versions of the $5 gold coin, silver dollar, and half dollar. After this year, mutli-coin sets have not been offered.
Prestige Proof Sets and American Legacy Collections
The earliest commemorative coin sets to include coins or other items from outside the program were the Prestige Proof Sets. These sets include the coins from the annual US Mint Proof Sets, along with one or more of the year’s proof commemorative coins. The product provided for an impressive display and showcase of the coins issued for the year.
Prestige Proof Sets were offered for the years 1983-1984 and 1986-1997. Each set included the proof version of the one of the year’s half dollars and/or silver dollars, along with the proof Kennedy Half Dollar, Washington Quarter, Roosevelt Dime, Jefferson Nickel, and Lincoln Cent. The product was discontinued after 1997, but made a comeback in 2005 with the issuance of the first American Legacy Collection. This product contained similar coins, but featured different packaging and in later years more educational information about the commemorative coins. These collections were issued from 2005 to 2008, and then discontinued.
Young Collector Sets
In 1993, the US Mint offered the first of the Young Collector Sets for the World War II and Bill of Rights commemorative coin programs. The sets included a single coin in special packaging, which provided information and illustrations targeted towards younger coin collectors.
These sets were offered in subsequent years for the 1994 World Cup, 1995 Civil War Battlefields, 1995-1996 Olympics, and 2008 Bald Eagle commemorative coin programs, including the uncirculated half dollar coin. Later Young Collector Sets for the 1996 Smithsonian, 1997 Jackie Robinson, and 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots programs included the proof or uncirculated silver dollar.
Coin and Medal Sets
The US Mint has always produced and offered a wide variety of medals. When the theme for a current or previously offered medal has been similar to the commemorative coin program, the Mint has offered coin and medal sets. The first such product was the 1993 World War II Commemorative Coin and Victory Medal Set, which included the uncirculated half dollar and a reproduction of a World War II Victory Medal.
The same year, an educational set was offered for the Bill of Rights program, which included the James Madison Presidential Medal. More than a decade later, coin and medal sets were offered for the 2007 Little Rock and 2008 Bald Eagle commemorative coin programs.
Coinage and Currency Sets
Continuing the exploration of new product formats, the first Coinage and Currency Set was offered for the 1993 Thomas Jefferson Silver Dollar, which was issued in 2004. Each set included the uncirculated silver dollar, a 1994-P Jefferson Nickel with a special matte proof finish, and a 1976 $2 banknote. Because the nickel with the special finish was only available within this set, it became an unexpected low mintage issue within the coin series. The same situation would occur when the 1997 Botanic Garden Coinage and Currency Set was issued in 1997, which included the uncirculated silver dollar, 1997-P matte proof Jefferson Nickel, and $1 banknote.
Not every set included specially minted coins or legal tender currency. The two later Coinage and Currency Sets issued for the 2001 American Buffalo and 2004 Lewis and Clark programs included the respective commemorative silver dollars, reprints of classic banknotes, and other materials.
Coin and Chronicles Sets
For certain commemorative coin programs which honor a specific individual, the United States Mint has offered Coin and Chronicles Sets. These products incorporate a variety of information and reproductions of historical items that provide greater depth and background for the individual and his contributions.
The 2005 John Marshall Coin and Chronicles Set included the uncirculated silver dollar, an intaglio print from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and a special booklet prepared by the Supreme Court Historical Society. The 2006 set for Benjamin Franklin included the uncirculated coin with the scientist design, four stamps, an intaglio print, and a reproduction of Poor Richard’s Almanack. The 2009 set for Abraham Lincoln included the proof silver dollar, the four different proof 2009 Lincoln Cents, a reproduction of a photograph of Lincoln, and a reproduction of the Gettysburg Address in his handwriting.
Coin and Stamp Sets
Because many commemorative stamps have been issued over the years, it follows that some commemorative coin issues celebrate the same or similar topics. The Coin and Stamp Sets offered by the United States Mint incorporated unused USPS postage stamps and the newly issued commemorative coins.
The first Coin and Stamp Set was issued for the 1993 Bill of Rights program. This was followed in later years by the 1996 National Community Service Silver Dollar, which contained a stamp featuring Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whose design had been used for the coin. Th 1998 Black Revolutionary War Patriots and 2005 Marine Corps programs also had coin and stamp sets. Some other products such as Coinage and Currency Sets or Coin and Chronicles Sets also included stamps.
Education Set and Collector Sets
Over the years, the US Mint released several sets that were referred to as Collector Sets and one referred to as an Education Set. The format and content of these products varied for each program.
The most popular was the 1998 Kennedy Collector’s Set, which was issued as part of the program honoring Robert F. Kennedy. Each set included the uncirculated silver dollar along with a matte proof 1998-S Kennedy Half Dollar. Since this coin was only issued within the sets, it had a low mintage of about 62,000, creating a modern key date coin.
The 2004 Edison Collector Set highlighted Thomas Edison’s most famous invention by incorporating a functioning light bulb within the packaging.
The 2009 Braille Education Set was issued as part of the program celebrating the bicentennial of Louis Braille. The sets were packaged in a tri-fold binder and provided examples of readable Braille and a description of the system of reading and writing for the blind and visually impaired.
Other Commemorative Coin Sets
In addition to the product categories already mentioned, the US Mint has issued still other commemorative coin sets. Each one typically contained one or more items specific to the commemorative coin program. Sometimes these items were very unusual or at least unexpected as part of a numismatic product.
The 1995 Civil War Union 3 Coin and 2 Coin Sets included proof versions of the commemorative coins, packaged in a Union daguerreotype case. In 1997, a Legacy Set was issued for Jackie Robinson commemorative coins, which included a reproduction of a baseball card and a collectible pin. The same year, an Insignia Set was issued for the National Law Enforcement Silver Dollar, which included a lapel pin and patch.
The 2000 Leif Ericson Millennium Set included the proof silver dollar and a proof Icelandic 1,000 kronur. This was one of the few instances that a US Mint product has included a foreign coin.
Finally, perhaps the most unusual product was the 2004 Lewis and Clark Coin and Pouch Set. Each of the 50,000 sets issued included a pouch that was cut, tanned, and decorated by Native Americans from one of eleven selected tribal nations. No two pouches were exactly alike an a hand signed certificate of authenticity was included, signed by the artisan who crafted the pouch.