Be Glad You Waited — The Story of the U.S. 1999 Proof Set

The collecting world is full of interesting facts, wonderful tidbits and amazing stories. Recently I was researching the 1999 U.S. proof set for a new offer we are putting together here at International Coins & Currency. I was reminded of the wild roller coaster ride that set created in the collecting market. This first proof set with “Statehood” quarters was issued by the Mint for $19.95, but a few years later the very same set was selling for over $200 on the secondary market! It sounds amazing but it’s true. 

The U.S. Mint initiated the unprecedented series in hopes of inspiring a new generation of collectors and expanding interest in numismatics. Here at International Coins & Currency we were excited about the new quarter program, but like everyone in the collecting world we had no idea how the public would receive the new coins.

The U.S. “Statehood Quarter” series began in 1999. Those initial five commemorative quarters were, of course, included in the 1999 U.S. proof set, making it the first 9-coin set in American history. The set was issued for $19.95, a significant price change from the $12.50 of previous sets.

Over the next few years the Mint continued to issue five quarters each year with unique designs commemorating the history and traditions of each states. Interest in the quarter series continued to grow and it eventually became the most successful numismatic program in history. That created a delayed demand for the 1999 proof set, featuring those initial five quarters.

The proof quarters included in the year’s proof sets, are the most impressive form of the commemorative coins and the most highly sought issues for collectors. As interest expanded to established collectors who had been hesitant about the series and to a huge new audience the price of the 1999 proof set skyrocketed in the secondary market.

As with any coin or coin set, there are limited numbers minted and only a portion of those are ever available in the marketplace, as many are part of established collections. The limited availability of the 1999 proof set combined with high demand lead to an amazing lift in the set’s cost.

The price for the 1999 set continually rose, reaching its peak in 2004 and 2005 when we offered the complete 9-coin set in our catalogs for over $200!

As the “Statehood” quarter series became an established part of the coin collecting landscape, prices for the landmark set slowly stabilized and eventually came in line with other sets from the period.

Does that mean that any coin or set that is selling for well over its issue price will eventually return to affordability? Not necessarily, as every numismatic issue is different and no one can predict how any product will behave in the marketplace. But now is a good time to grab the 9-coin U.S. 1999 proof set for your collection!

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