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Did You Know That Modern Silver Proof Sets Were First Issued in 1992?

1992 saw the reintroduction of Silver Proof sets, a product not issued since the removal of silver from most circulating American coinage in 1964 (though backdated silver coinage was still being struck as late as 1966). The sets which, like their mid-20th century predecessors, included half dollars, quarters, and dimes of the bygone 90% silver 10% copper alloy, became annual products,

The inclusion of silver clad half dollars, composed of a 40% silver and 60% copper alloy, kept silver in Proof sets through the 1960s. Special Mint sets, issued in lieu of Proof sets from 1965 to 1967, included the silver clad half dollar, as did Proof sets once production resumed in 1968. Silver was eliminated from Proof sets entirely after 1970 when the silver clad composition was retired.

Silver clad was briefly resurrected for Mint and Proof sets in the mid-1970s for coinage commemorating the United States’ bicentennial. The reintroduction of commemorative coinage in 1982 was the impetus for silver’s reintroduction as the U.S. Mint offered a wider range of Proof set products including commemorative coins in the 1980s. These began with Prestige Sets in 1983, which included a commemorative silver dollar. Proof versions of individual commemorative coins and groups of commemorative coins by year were offered too.

In the early 1990s, offerings would once again expand with the authorization of Silver Proof sets. Public Law 101-585, named the “Silver Coin Proof Sets Act,” was signed on November 15, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush authorizing the sets. The silver was, per the terms of the law, to be acquired “by purchase from stockpiles established under the Strategic and Critical Materials Stock Piling Act (50 U.S.C. 98 et seq.). At such time as the silver stockpile is depleted, the Secretary shall obtain silver for such coins by purchase of silver mined from natural deposits in the United States or in a territory or possession of the PUBLIC LAW 101-585—NOV. 15, 1990 104 STAT. 2875 United States not more than 1 year following the month in which the ore from which it is derived was mined.”

The Mint offered two different versions: the Silver Proof set and the Premier Silver Proof set. Both sets include the same coins: a 90% silver Proof Kennedy half dollar, Washington quarter, Roosevelt dime, Jefferson nickel and Lincoln cent. The Premier set featured higher-quality packaging. These 1992 products inaugurated the modern silver Proof set, items still offered yearly by the Mint.

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