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Coins - 1981 Mint Set

The 1981 mint set contained thirteen coins including three Susan B. Anthony dollars and was the last year the US Mint used the plain white envelope to hold the mint set of uncirculated coins. In addition to the three dollars, the 1981 mint set contained two each of the Kennedy half dollar, Washington quarter, Roosevelt dime, Jefferson nickel and Lincoln penny.  

The 1981 mint set was packaged in the plain white envelope with "US MINT" and "1981 Uncirculated Coin" in bold, blue font in the upper left corner. This was the last annual mint set which the US Mint used the plain white envelope to hold the uncirculated coins in their pliofilm sleeves.

1981 Mint Set Package

1981 Mint Set 

Inside the mint set envelope, two pliofilm sleeves were positioned between two pieces of cardstock to cushion the uncirculated coins. 

1981 Mint Set opened to show contents 

1981 Mint Set Uncirculated Coins

The left, red-edged pliofilm sleeve holds seven uncirculated coins, six from the Denver mint and the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin minted in San Francisco. The coins minted in Philadelphia show on the right in the blue-edged sleeve.

In the mint set's Denver pliofilm, the two Susan B. Anthony dollars are on either side of the Kennedy half dollar. In the Philadelphia sleeve, the dollar coin is to the left of the half dollar with the quarter on the bottom right.

1981 Mint Set obverse images 

Sealed into individual compartments, each coin can still rotate into various positions.  

On the opposite side, the reverse images of the coins in the mint set can be seen easily. But, it takes a closer look to discern which are the dollar and which are the quarter coins in each sleeve.

1981 Mint Set reverse images  

1981 Mint Set Coins and Metals

The coins of the 1981 Mint Set contained the following metals:

Penny: 95% copper; 5% zinc
Nickel: 75% copper; 25% nickel
Dime: 91.67% copper; 8.33% nickel
Quarter: 91.67% copper; 8.33% nickel
Half Dollar: 91.67% copper; 8.33% nickel
Dollar: 91.67% copper; 8.33% nickel

Click on Mint Set Population to view the contents of the sets through the years. Take a look at the overall Mint Set page to see how the values compare among the sets.

1981 Mint Set Year - News about Coins and the US Mint

(note: the below links to newspapers open in a new window)

Palm Beach man pays $650,000 for rare coin 
The Miami News - Jan 9, 1981
Stack's Coin of New York just sold the Brasher Doubloon for Yale University to a Florida businessman. Yale University received their asking price of $650,000 for the rare gold coin. As the last remaining American gold coin struck prior to the establishment of the Philadelphia mint, the rare piece adds to the gentleman's extensive pioneer territorial gold collection. Yale sold the coin, which had resided in a vault for the last 13 years, to help pay for the construction of their new library.

New US commemorative near? 
Beaver County Times - May 15, 1981
The House Banking Committee unanimously approved a new 90% coin to commemorate the 250th anniversary next year of George Washington's birth. The coin, a 50-cent piece, will have a price tag of $9.50 to $10.00 to cover the cost of the silver, the US Mint's cost and a 20% markup. If all ten  million of the coins are sold, the profits could be as much as $15 million and would be used exclusively to reduce the national debt. The commemorative coin is the first authorized since 1954 and will be made from silver stockpiled for the no longer made Eisenhower dollar.

Anthony coin to remain on shelves 
The Rochester Sentinel - Jun 26, 1981
The new director-designate of the US Mint, Donna Pope, said that there are more Susan B. Anthony dollars stored at the mint than are in circulation. The mint has no intention of producing any more of the dollar coins. During her confirmation hearing, Senator Garn suggested the coin be reissued in another size. He also claimed that many in Congress did not want the coin originally, but were afraid to vote against it because of the women's rights issue. But Mrs. Pope advised that with the cuts in personnel and in the mint's budget, taking on another project would be

A penny saved may earn much 
The Milwaukee Sentinel - Jul 23, 1981
This solid silver penny should have been destroyed before it left the Denver mint. Instead, the images for a normal penny are stamped on a silver coin blank once used by the Denver mint to make coins for the nation of Nepal. As an error, the coin could be worth a lot more than the one-cent face value or the value of the silver content. A local coin dealer advised that its value depends on "supply, demand, oddity and what the market will bear."

Mint plans change to lighter penny 
The Press-Courier - Jul 26, 1981
With the increase in copper costs, the US Mint will be changing the penny from mostly copper to mostly zinc. A Greenville Tennessee company won an $8.7 million contract to deliver the blanks of 97.6% zinc and 2.4% copper. The company will deliver 10.4 million pounds each to the West Point, New York and San Francisco, California mint locations in November. Through 1982, the US Mint will produce both the current mostly copper penny and the new mostly zinc penny. The new penny will weigh roughly 19% less than the current copper penny.

All that glitters is not gold, but can it be proved? 
The Pittsburgh Press - Aug 1, 1981
Recently, fake krugerands made of lead and covered in gold were seized at various shops. The counterfeits were so good as to fool many experts. But, could a similar scam be done on a broader scale? Perhaps. A small, tightly held cartel oversees the purity of the gold commodity market. Furthermore, when questioned, the US Mint responded, "We're not in the business of certifying or recognizing assayers or assaying techniques." Standards to exist, however they are accepted because they exist, and they exist because they are accepted.

Fire hits Denver mint 
Youngstown Vindicator - Sep 2, 1981
Though the coining presses did not stop during the fire, the penny production will be halted for a short time at the Denver Mint for repairs. Lint and other material caught fire in a duct which spread to the roof of the building. No one was injured, and firefighters stopped the blaze within ten minutes. The area where the fire occurred has four furnaces that heat metal plates used for stamping pennies.

Dealer pays $10,000 for cent 
Record-Journal - Sep 14, 1981
Copper was diverted to the war effort in 1943, and the US Mint made zinc-coated steel pennies that year. But, a few copper blanks were left in the coining machines and made it into circulation, ten in Philadelphia, one at Denver and one at San Francisco. This one, minted in Philadelphia, was owned by John R. Sinnock, Chief Engraver at the Mint, who gave it as a Christmas gift to a lady friend. A few others owned the coin before this auction which brought $10,000 for the rare one-cent coin.

Zinc pennies slated to decrease costs 
Schenectady Gazette - Oct 6, 1981
The Treasury Department plans to save roughly $25 million per year as the US Mint changes the composition of the penny to be mostly zinc. But, the copper industry wants a restraining order on the US Mint until the change can be challenged legally. Thus far, their efforts have been rejected by a federal judge. Some critics claim that zinc will have to be imported whereas the copper can be produced domestically. In the meantime, the US Mint proceeds with plans to mint the new copper-coated zinc penny.

Will new zinc penny be another disaster? 
The Lewiston Daily Sun - Oct 13, 1981
After its three-year failure with the Susan B. Anthony dollar, the US Mint is making another change, this time to the penny. It will have the same design, but the weight and feel of the new one-cent coin will be different. But, the Mint has changed the copper content of the penny several times through the years. Initially, the penny contained 1/3 ounce of copper in 1793. In two years the copper was reduced by 22%. In 1856, the copper was cut to 1/7 ounce and reduced in size. Then, in 1864, the copper reduced to 1/10 ounce which has remained consistent except for the steel penny of the war years. Perhaps the Mint will succeed with this penny.

The 1981 Mint Set Year included news of a new commemorative silver half dollar, changing the penny composition to mostly zinc and rare numismatic commentary. 

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