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Coins - 1961 Proof Set


The 1961 Proof Set is another example of the packaging the United States Mint used for proof sets starting in 1955 through 1964.

Long before the ease of ordering on the internet, the US Mint received 20,000 orders in the mail per day from people wanting the 1961 Proof Set.

1961 Proof Set Package

This proof set package included a brown envelope 3.5 inches wide by 6 inches long. The upper left area, normally for the return address, shows:


The lower left corner of the front of the envelope says: 1961 P.C. where P.C. means "Proof Coins."

1961 Proof Set

The back of the 1961 Proof Set contains no identifying marks, just the usual envelope construction.

1961 Proof Set back

The 1961 Proof Set package included five coins encased between two sheets of clear pliofilm with each coin sealed in its own compartment. In addition, a sixth compartment included an octagonal seal of paper-backed silver foil. The blue design on the foil background shows US MINT and three stars inside a shield with PHILADELPHIA underneath.

The 1961 Proof Set's Half Dollar, Quarter Dollar and Dime consisted of 90% silver and 10% copper. The five cent coin (nickel) was made of 75% copper and 25% nickel, and the cent was 95% copper and 5% tin and zinc.

1961 Proof Set Contents and Proof Coins

Two pieces of cardboard formed a sandwich around the flat coin set.

1961 Proof Set contents

In addition, the Mint included a note to collectors about the packaging:

1961 Proof Set note to collectors

The note states:

Sooner or later your Proof Coins may show evidence of oxidation (tarnish or discoloration). We have chosen materials and methods which we hope will delay this possibility, but we cannot assume responsibility for oxidation.

Please do not ask us to make exchanges or adjustments.

Your U.S. Proof Coins have been carefully inspected before release!

If there should appear - what may seem to you - a defect or scratch on a coin - it is, no doubt, a crease in the polyethylene-coated mylar. We tell you this to save us both unnecessary correspondence.

Thank you!

U.S. Mint,
Philadelphia, Pa. 

 The obverse of the 1961 proof coins:

1961 Proof Set obverse

You can see some toning on the nickel and the penny. But, some collectors appreciate beautifully toned proof coins.

The reverse of the proof coins:

1961 Proof Set reverse

Half Dollar:

The 1961 half dollar continued with the Franklin image on the obverse. Franklin's image was first introduced in 1946 to remind people "that thrifty financial management is as important to individuals and to society today as it was in Franklin’s time." Franklin's portrait facing right was developed from a composite of several portraits. The words on the obverse include "LIBERTY" across the top and "IN GOD WE TRUST" under the portrait with the date to the right of Franklin's neck. The coin's reverse shows the historic Liberty Bell hanging from its wooden beam with its representative crack. The bell's image was adapted from a similar image used on a commemorative half dollar in 1926 for the Sesquicentennial of American Independence. "UNITED STATES oF AMERICA" circles the top half of the reverse with the lettering "E Pluribus Unum" to the left of the bell and an American eagle with wings outspread to the right. Below the bell, "HALF DOLLAR" is inscribed. (Instead of all capitals, a small "o" is used in "oF," however it is placed at the top of the "F.")
Obverse Designer: John Sinnock
Reverse Designer: John Sinnock

For fun, take a look at the initial Franklin Half Dollar Press Release

Quarter Dollar:

In 1961, the obverse design included the portrait of George Washington and the words: "LIBERTY," "IN GOD WE TRUST" and the date. The US Mint introduced the quarter dollar with the portrait of our first president in 1932 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth. On the reverse, an eagle stands with wings outspread clutching a bunch of arrows in its talons with two olive sprays crossed beneath his tail feathers. The words on the reverse include: "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM" and "QUARTER DOLLAR."
Obverse Designer: John Flanagan
Reverse Designer: John Flanagan


The 1961 dime's obverse shows an image of President Franklin Roosevelt. After his death in 1945 and after receiving many requests to honor the late president, the US Mint released the Roosevelt dime on the late president's birth date in 1946. The words on the obverse include "LIBERTY," "IN GOD WE TRUST" and the year. The coin's reverse shows an olive branch, a torch and an oak branch with the words "E PLURIBUS UNUM" across them. The words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" flow around the top of the reverse with "ONE DIME" on the bottom.
Obverse Designer: John Sinnock
Reverse Designer: John Sinnock

Five Cents (Nickel):

The US Mint produced the first Jefferson nickels in 1938. The portrait of Jefferson on the coin's obverse copied the portrait painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1800. Jefferson faces left in the portrait with the profile showing his prominent forehead and colonial hair. The words on the face of the coin say "IN GOD WE TRUST," "LIBERTY" and the year. The 1961 nickel's reverse shows Jefferson's historic home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia. "E PLURIBUS UNUM" fits above Monticello, and "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA," "MONTICELLO" and "FIVE CENTS" show below the home.
Obverse Designer: Felix Schlag
Reverse Designer: Felix Schlag

Cent (Penny):

The US Mint presented Abraham Lincoln's image on the obverse of the one cent coin in 1909 to commemorate the 100th anniversary year of his birth. The image shows Lincoln facing to the right in the portrait with his iconic beard, suit coat and tie. The motto, "IN GOD WE TRUST" was first introduced on coins with the Lincoln cent. The coin's obverse also includes "LIBERTY" and the date. The 1961 cent's reverse showing the Lincoln Memorial was young at the time after being first introduced on the cent in 1959 replacing the wheat ears. On the reverse, the inscription says "UNITED STATES oF AMERICA," "E PLURIBUS UNUM" and "ONE CENT."
Obverse Designer: Victor D. Brenner
Reverse Designer: Frank Gasparro

1961 Proof Set Year Population and Cost of Living

The world population in 1961 was 3,083,506,202. This represents 45.0% of the world's population in 2010.

$100 in 1961 equals $729.28 in 2010 dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Inflation Calculator.

New houses in 1961 cost an average of $17,200 which would be $125,436 in 2010 dollars.

The average income was $4,087 per year which equals $29,804 in 2010 dollars.

Gas was $0.308 per gallon which would be $2.246 in 2010 money.

The average new car was $2,705 equivalent to $19,728 in 2010.

(Chart views into the cost of living changes throughout the Proof Set years)

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