As I set at my desk enjoying both Irish coffee and the view of a beautiful azure blue morning sky outside the window, I found myself pondering on this weeks blog topic. Following several minutes of looking at the new green buds, the purple plum trees and forsythia beyond I remembered that coin set I have tucked away not far from reach. Pulling the 1997 Botanical Gardens coin and currency set from the darkness of it's resting place within the cabinet I now have a topic for this weeks posting. I hope you will enjoy not only the subject but the day before you as well.
I would think it safe to say that when it comes to deciding on a commemorative coin the United States Mint doesn't always have a good idea. Meaning, the subject matter behind what they issue. To be sure, most of them are proposed. Others are deservingly chosen in true commemoration. Yet on occasion, like the set in question, there seems to be no clear reasoning. No proposal from a group or individual. Which, despite the many failings and flops over the years, is not a bad thing. Case in point, this set.
The 1997 Botanical Gardens set, with a mintage limit of 25,000, went on sale February 21, with an issue price of $36.00. It included a One Dollar silver commemorative, a matte finish Jefferson Nickel (the only way of obtaining such for the year) and a One Dollar Federal Reserve note. Unlike today, and with no household limit, orders could only be made by mail and honored based on their postmark. Just as today, these sets quickly reached sold out status within the first week. This is the point at which things become perfectly clear, or at the least from my perspective, at the inner thought of the Mint. In the years prior to 1997, the commemorative program exploded with issues. Particularly the Olympic years. Not having any concrete idea, the botanical set may have originated due to the close proximity to elected officials in Washington DC in Congress responsible for passage of coinage law. The special finish nickel, on the other hand, was that of the Mint. So, with sales slumping after a successful series, then Mint Director Philip N. Diehl later reported on the performance and philosophy of creating unique and limited edition products as confirmed in the secondary market. Those are his own words, not exactly as quoted, in an article which I stumbled across while researching todays subject. As I read his words I reflected upon the current proof sets and coin programs which are falling as they had in previous ones with the inclusions of West Point issues. The old saying is true, history repeats itself. Again, this is by no means a bad thing. Rather the hidden meaning, or agenda if you will, of the United States Mint.
My person thoughts and occasional frustrations aside, overall the mint creates some of the most beautiful coins in the world. Creating limited number products is essential to keeping our hobby alive and thriving. As for the set discussed it's one of my favorites. Thanks for reading!