Over the years, the United States Mint has sometimes taken the approach of repackaging or recombining certain coins from existing numismatic offerings to create “new” numismatic offerings. There are occasions when this practice has been taken too far, as was the case for the individual proof Presidential Dollars issued in 2007 and 2008.
The proof set has been a long standing annual offering of the US Mint, which has typically reached sales of millions of units per year. The set generally contains proof versions of the cent, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, and $1 coins for a particular year.
The scope of the annual proof set increased starting in 1999 with the onset of the State Quarters Program. Rather than a single quarter, the set included one example of each of the five different quarters issued for the year. The collectible nature of the new program also led the US Mint to release a separate State Quarters Proof Set for each year, which contained only the five proof quarters. These component proof sets were popular, attaining sales of more than one million units for some years.
The Presidential Dollar Program began in 2007, with four different designs issued per year to honor the former Presidents in the order served. In similar fashion, the US Mint introduced a Presidential Dollars Proof Set, containing only the four proof $1 coins of the series.
For 2007, the US Mint would issue the full annual Proof Set containing 14 coins priced at $26.95, the five coin State Quarters Proof Set priced at $13.95, and the four coin Presidential Dollars Proof Set priced at $14.95. The fact that the two component sets including nine proof coins was priced higher than the full set including 14 coins was not lost on some collectors.
Late in 2007, the Mint announced new products, which would further fractionalize proof coin offerings. This included the individual proof Presidential Dollars. The product consisted of a single proof Presidential Dollar mounted on a small cardboard holder. The back of the card indicated the date of birth, date of death, place of birth, vice president, and spouse of the President. According to the Mint, this product was “perfect for introducing a young person to the hobby or for the experienced numismatist to begin a new collection”.
Each individual proof coin was priced at $5.95. At this pricing, the four individual proofs would cost $8.85 more than the four coin proof set. To draw another comparison, the cost of the four individual proofs was equivalent to 88% of the cost of the full annual 14 coin set. These figures do not include shipping, which could have been as much as $4.95 for each individual proof coin.
As might be expected, sales fared poorly for this unusual product, although the offering was maintained throughout 2007 and 2008 before being canceled.