The Souvenir Set is one of the more obscure numismatic products that have been offered by the United States Mint. Despite having been offered for more than two decades, very few collectors are aware of the product and even fewer choose to build a collection. Nonetheless, these unusual sets boast extremely low production and survival rates, especially when compared to other more popular and widely collected products.
The Souvenir Sets were specially packaged sets of uncirculated coins from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mint facility. The sets were available from the gift shops at each mint following the public tour. Each set would typically contain one example each of the Kennedy Half Dollar, Washington Quarter, Roosevelt Dime, Jefferson Nickel, and Lincoln Cent for the respective year, along with a bronze medal from the respective mint.
The five coins and one medal were sealed within individual pockets of a cellophane pack and placed within an outer envelope. The sets from Philadelphia were typically in light blue colored envelopes with the words “Philadelphia Mint Souvenir Set” printed in black. The sets from Denver were in a darker blue colored envelope with the words “Denver Mint Souvenir Set” in a stylized black font. No indication of the year was provided on the envelope. The sets, which contained coins with a face value of 91 cents, were offered for sale at the price of $4.00.
The standard five-coin sets are known to have been offered from either the Philadelphia or Denver Mints for each year from 1972 to 1998 inclusive. The production of sets was discontinued with the start of the 50 State Quarters Program. Three-coin sets containing the Susan B. Anthony Dollars from each mint facility were offered from 1979 to 1981. An additional three-coin set featuring a half dollar, quarter, and bronze medal was offered in 1976.
Mintage or production figures for Souvenir Sets are unknown, although partial data can sometimes be found within the Annual Reports provided by the Director of the United States Mint. Some collectors have also derived estimated data from various sources and based on current availability. The rarest set appears to be the 1972 Souvenir Set with perhaps only a few hundred offered. Other low production years include the dates from 1973 to 1975, 1986, and the dates from 1993 to 1998, where production numbered in the low thousands. The highest production year was the 1987 Souvenir Set with likely more than 50,000 sets offered from each mint.
Although not amongst the lowest production years, the 1982 and 1983 Souvenir Sets are highly sought by collectors. For these two years, the popular Uncirculated Coin Sets or “Mint Sets” were not offered by the United States Mint. Collectors seeking to assemble a complete run of “government issued” Mint Sets will often substitute the Souvenir Sets from each mint for these two years. The increased demand results in strong premiums for these dates.