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The Rare 1908 Proof Set was a Proof Only Issue with a Mintage of Only 500 Sets by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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  • Member: Seasoned Veteran

1908 was the last year that USA/Philippine proof sets were produced and the only year that the reduced size & weight silver coins (Ten Centavos,Twenty Centavos, Fifty Centavos, and Peso) were struck in Proof.


Five hundred 1908 USA/Philippine Proof sets were minted. The seven coin 1908 USA/Philippine Proof set (Half Centavo, Centavo, Five Centavos, Ten Centavos, Twenty Centavos, Fifty Centavos, and Peso) was produced at the Philadelphia Mint. Since no business strikes of USA/Philippine coins were produced at Philadelphia in 1908 all 1908 USA/Philippine Proof coins are PROOF ONLY ISSUES.


One of the unique features of the 1908 Proof Set is that the silver proofs in this set represent a one year type. When the standards for the coinage system in the Philippine Islands was established in 1903 the Autual Silver Weight (ASW) of the four denominations of silver coins was set relatively high compared to the coins face value. For example the 1903 - 1906 Silver Peso had a face value of $.50 (USD) but the same ASW as a U.S. Morgan Silver Dollar. By 1905 rising silver prices brought the bullion value of Philippine silver coins to the level where they were beginning to disappear from circulation. By November 1906 the melt value of Philippine silver coins had risen to 13.2% over their face value. Laws prohibiting the melting and export of silver coins proved largely ineffective and something had to be done. In December 1906 the U.S. Congress passed an Act "for the purpose of preventing the melting and exportation of the silver coins of the Philippine Islands as a result of the high price of silver". The Act reduced the weight and fineness of Philippine silver coins. Authority was also granted to recall from circulation and banks what silver coins were yet in the Islands and ship them back to the United States for re-coining into pieces of lesser fineness. Since U.S. mints had to replace nearly all of the Islands silver coinage in 1907 it was not felt that there were enough resources to make 1907 Proof Sets. When Proof Set production resumed in 1908 all of the silver coins were struck in the newly authorized reduced weight and fineness. Since 1908 was the last year of production for Philippine Proof coins this was the only year that the reduced size and weight silver coins were struck in Proof.


The Coin Rarity Scale defines RARE (R-6) as a coin with 200-999 Surviving Specimens. By this definition all 1908 Proof coins were Rare Coins when they were issued. Certainly after more than a century the surviving number of 1908 proof coins in any condition is less than the original 500 coins of each denomination. In 1908 the mint had not yet developed the special protective packing used for modern proof sets, and over the years, the condition of many of the surviving proof coins have deteriorated due to improper storage and improper cleaning.


Proof Sets were not sold in any sort of protective packing or cases but were contained in plain paper coin envelopes and each coin was wrapped individually in thin tissue paper. This method of packaging has contributed to the micro thin hairline scratches seen on most proof coins as well as the heavy toning aften seen. GEM coins are quite RARE and all are very scarce due to the low mintages. (Allen 2008)


The specimens in this set range from Choice to GEM and have an average grade of PF 64.29. All of the coins have above average eye appeal for their grade. In terms of Grade Rarity the coins range from VERY RARE (R-7) to EXTREMELY RARE (R-8).



The face value of the seven coins in a Philippine Proof set is 1.865 Pesos or $.9325 in U.S. Dollars. Adjusted for inflation that would equal $22.34 in 2010 U.S. dollars. In 1908 the original selling price for a Philippine Proof set was two dollars per set of seven coins. Adjusted for inflation that would equal $47.91 in 2010 U.S. dollars. In the 2012 edition of "U.S./Philippine Coins" by Lyman L. Allen a 1908 Philippine Proof Set in PF65 is listed at $6500.00


The coin pictured is the reverse of my 1908 Peso.



See more journals by JAA USA/Philippines Collection

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