What are Mint and Proof Sets? Basic Lesson 4


These sets contain the coins issued by the Royal Australian Mint (RAM) for use as currency (sometimes called circulation coins as discussed in Lesson 3). The sets usually contain the standard circulating coins of the year, however in the later issues some of the commemorative coins  started to appear.

Mint Sets

1994  Mint Set

1994 Mint Set issued by RAM

The coins used for mint sets are the coins minted by RAM for circulation. They are in mint condition in contrast to the coins distributed in the banking supply system, not having the usual bag knocks or rubbing marks.
They are relatively straight forward to collect and available from most sources that sell coins. They are the most popular and widely sold and traded coin items.
The presentation and packaging is just as important as the condition of the coins when considering a purchase.
The tricky year for collecting these sets is 1966, when the decimal era began in Australia.   There were a number of sets issued at this time.  Below are some of the varieties the were released by the Mint in 1966:

1966 Mint Set Card

1966 Mint Set Carded issued by RAM


1966 Mint Set Blue Wallet open

1966 Mint Set in Blue Wallet issued by RAM

• Card
• Blue Wallet
• Reserve Bank coloured wallet of Red Blue Green and Black
• VIP Wallet
• Red Wallet
• Blue Wallet
• Fastbuck Wallet
• One cent and two cent Green card
• Dozens of private releases

The initial mintages of 1966 mint sets were sufficient to not to require a further mint run until 1969 when the second Mint set was released.
This set was issued in the vinyl wallet style with two colours been available, red and blue. After 1969 the sets were released every year.  In 1970 the first commemorative coin, the Captain cook 50 cents , was included in a mint set.

The wallets issued settled into the red colour with the exception of 1977 Anniversary of the Queen’s Jubilee (Purple wallet) and the 1982 Commonwealth games (Green Wallet).
The early mint sets issued between 1975 and 1984 often came with a sticky oil type residue that was sprayed on by the mint, causing a chemical reaction between the plastic case and coins,  resulting in a sticky green slime. These can be cleaned using eucalyptus oil.
Only collect the best quality sets that can be found.

1976 mint set

1976 Mint Set in Vinyl Wallet issued by RAM


In 1984 the packaging changed with the mint going for a more sophisticated, modern presentation. The sets continued to improve in appearance with more commemorative issues being used in the following years.
In 1993 the first Baby set made its appearance

1995 Mint Set Baby cover

1995 Baby Mint Set issued by RAM


In 2006 the RAM started issuing Coin Fair sets followed by 2 coin sets in 2008.

In 2002 special Wedding sets were issued

Mint sets are a relatively inexpensive way to start a coin collection and are a very popular and collectible item.

There are also numerous private issues of the sets.  The most popular to collect is the 1966 Commonwealth Bank set,  and the 1966 BP Australia set.

1979 Mint Set Private

Mint set private issue



Proof Sets
These sets still contain the designs released for circulation as in the Mint Sets.
However, the mint uses specially prepared blanks and finishes the coins for proof sets to a much higher standard. These coins have polished surfaces and fine detail. They are referred to as proof quality or proof finished.
The packaging and presentation of the coins is also of a better quality and standard than the mint sets.
They tend to be a lot more expensive than the mint sets but are a very popular collectible item and have the potential to outperform the mint sets in price. The finish and minting methods make some of these sets a truly stunning item to own.
The first decimal proof sets were issued in 1966 and presented in a small case.  In 1969 the sets were issued in a sealed plastic case and came packaged in a foam container.


Typical Proof Set from 1969 to 1984

A common misconception is certificates were issued for the early proof sets but the mint did not start issuing certificates for proof sets until 1974.
From 1969 to 1984 the sealed plastic case was used for presentation. Buyers look for good quality coins and case with the coins still standing upright, not turned in the case.
In 1985 to 1988 the sets were packed in a variety of plain packaging and 1989 saw the first of the design outer shipping box type modern presentation that lasts till today.

2007 Lifesaver

2007 Proof Set issued by RAM

The $1 coin was included from 1985 onwards and the $2 on release from 1988 onwards, with the 1 and 2 cents been dropped in 1992.

As with the mint sets, the mint also introduced proof  Wedding sets, Baby sets and 2 coin sets.
Also Coin Fair proof sets were also produced starting in 1988
Commemorative type silver and gold proof sets with the circulating designs were also minted.  The gold in 2001 till 2010 (although not every year) and the silver in 2003 till today.

What to Collect
A great example of the forces of the collecting market can be seen at work with some years in the proof sets. For example the 1980 proof set  still sells for $15.00 -$25.00, which is fairly close to the issue price. Collecting proof sets became very popular during this period and the mint responded by greatly increasing the mintage number.  As these sets are common the price has moved very little over a period of almost 45 years.

In contrast,  the 1990 Aboriginal Art proof set is now very hard to find at reasonable prices and sells for a considerably more than the release price.

This exemplifies the need to undertake research, and to look at mintage figures and market acceptance, before deciding what to collect.

At Silver Spirit Coins we have a good collection of both Mint and Prof sets.

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