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Coins - 1976 3-Piece Proof Set


The US Mint released its first ever specialty proof set to honor and celebrate the nation's bicentennial. The proof set included three coins - a dollar, half dollar and quarter dollar - made of 40% silver. The set's face value equaled $1.75 and was sold at $15.00 per set.

Generally, proof sets are sold during the year of their mintage and sometimes for a short period in the following year. Due to the popularity of the 1976 Silver Bicentennial Set, the US Mint continued to sell the three piece set after the bicentennial and into 1982. The total mintage came to almost four million sets.

The bicentennial Eisenhower dollar has two varieties in the "R" of "DOLLAR" on the reverse. One variety has a straight "tail" and thicker text. The other, Variety 2, has a curved tail and thinner text. The proof set dollars appear to be Variety 2. In addition, some speculate that a very few of the 40% Silver Bicentennial proof coins were minted without mint marks, however examples are not available.

1976 3-Piece Bicentennial Proof Set Package

In the three piece set, the US Mint placed each coin in its own clear, two-piece container. Each container was inserted into a circle on a blue flocked board. The board was hinged inside a double-fold, wallet style package.

A blue and black speckled textile covered the outside of the package. On the front, the inscription recognized the bicentennial with 1776-1976 and 13 stars, all in gold. Folded, the package dimensions are roughly 4 inches by 4 inches by 1/2 inch.

1976 3-Piece Proof Set

Inside the package, red material provides contrast for the coins in their blue flocking and shows the golden script, "United States Bicentennial Silver Proof Set." In addition, red, white and blue ribbon, our nation's colors, highlights the set inside the front and back covers.

1976 3-Piece Proof Set open to obverse 

1976 3-Piece Bicentennial Proof Set Contents and Proof Coins

The lustre of the obverse of the coins:

1976 3-Piece Proof Set obverse

The set's certificate lies inside the back cover and under the ribbon. Thirteen gold stars grace the front of the certificate. Here, the hinged board flips up to allow an easy view of the reverse of the coins.

1976 3-Piece Proof Set open to reverse

Notice the special reverse designs made for the bicentennial celebrations.

1976 3-Piece Proof Set reverse

Inside the certificate, gold script on an off-white, shiny paper tells the story of the Bicentennial Silver Proof Set.

1976 3-Piece Proof Set certificate 

The contents of the US Mint certificate say:

"U.S. Mint's Bicentennial Silver Proof Set

"The U.S. Mint's three-piece 40% silver proof coin set, dated 1776-1976 honors our nation's 200th anniversary of independence.

"The new reverse designs emblematic of the Bicentennial of the American Revolution were authorized by Congress and were selected through a national coin design competition. The initials of the designers are on each new reverse design.

"Jack L. Ahr (JLA) of Arlington Heights, Illinois, designed the colonial drummer on the quarter reverse. Independence Hall on the half dollar reverse is the work of Seth G. Huntington (SGH) of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Liberty Bell and moon design on the dollar reverse is by Dennis R. Williams (DRW) of Columbus, Ohio.

"Proof coins are prized for their virtually flawless beauty. They are made from special coin blanks and are struck twice by highly polished dies to obtain the mirror-like surface."

1976 3-Piece Bicentennial Proof Set Coin Specifications

The specifications for the coins in the 1976 40% Silver Bicentennial Proof Set:

 Denomination  Quarter  Half Dollar  Dollar





Designed by

John Flanagan

Gilroy Roberts

Frank Gasparro




Liberty Bell,

Designed by

Jack L. Ahr

Seth G. Huntington

Dennis R. Williams


40% Silver,
60% Copper

40% Silver,
60% Copper

40% Silver,
60% Copper


5.750 g

12.500 g

24.59 g


0.955 in
24.26 mm

1.205 in
30.61 mm

1.5 in
38.1 mm





Though not on this certificate, in subsequent sets, the US Mint advises, "To preserve the beauty of your Proof Set, it should be stored in a cool, dry place."

1976 3-Piece Bicentennial Proof Set Year Highlights

The contest for the reverse designs for the bicentennial coins started in October of 1973.

A new $2 bill - 200 cents for 200 years - was issued with Series dated 1976. Jefferson's portrait remained on the face of the bill, but the new reverse featured a vignette of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

The US Postal service released several bicentennial stamps, and for the first time opened several post offices around the country on a Sunday - July 4, 1976.

The American Freedom Train began a 21 month tour in April 1975 in Wilmington DE. It's 25,000+ mile journey for the bicentennial included all 48 contiguous states.

People gathered in Boston to celebrate the Boston Tea Party with a "People's Bicentennial."

The Smithsonian opened an exhibit replicating the Centennial celebration in Philadelphia in 1876. Many of the Smithsonian's exhibits actually came from Philadelphia's celebration.

Disney replaced their Main Street Electrical Parade in California with an America on Parade honoring the 200 years.

As a prominent city in 1776, Philadelphia hosted several 1976 sporting events: the NBA All-Star Game, the National Hockey League All-Star Game, the NCAA Final Four and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

Several cartoon shorts aired on Saturday morning, called Schoolhouse Rock. They provided highlights of American history and government related to the bicentennial.


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