Can you someone explain to me the difference between the 1981 S Proof
Set -- filled S and clear S???
Thanks in advance,
"Filled" is a misnomer, as the terrm actually means that the mintmark (or
other design element) is missing, due to a filled die. This is not the
case, so the term is being used incorrectly in the Red Book.
The actual facts are that two different mintmark punches were used in 1979
(and in 1981). The original (Type I) 1979-S mintmark was from a very worn
punch, which gave the appearance of a rectangular, straight sided mound,
with a faint S on "top," or as the highest relief. (A more discriptive
term for this is a "blob."
This was replaced by the Type II mintmark, which is a clear, symetrical S
which looks like it was laid out with a compass. The field inside the
loops is connected to the field outside, except on a few dies where the S
was punched in so heavily that it closed off the openings. However even
these show distinct indentations at the opening of the upper and lower
loops, markedly different than the rectangular base of the Type I.
In 1981, the same mintmark punch (The 1979 Type II) was still in use, but
began to chip, so it was removed from service. This became the 1981 Type
I. The 1981 Type II punch has a symetrical lower loop, but the upper loop
is elongated and flattened at the top, so its outline is not a perfect
circle as was the case with the Type I.
For both years, the Type II mintmarks are the rarer, with all six coins
having mintages of less than a million or so. Commonly both types of
mintmarks are found in proof sets for the two years, although a few with
all six Type II mintmarks are known for both years.
For a number of years I have offered readers a free photo chart, which
shows all four mintmarks, plus a number of other important minting
varieties. To obtain a free copy, include a loose first class stamp
(rather than an SASE) and write to:
700 E. State St.
Iola, WI 54990-0001
In your posting to "Steve" on
3 Dec 1995 11:00:25 -0500
"COIN PRICES" magazine currently shows a price of $67 for a 1979-Type II
proof set but makes no mention of whether or not this is for a set with
all Type II marks. Your posting, which stated that only a "few" with all
six Type II mintmarks are known, would seem to indicate that a set with
all six Type II marks is fairly rare and possibly worth quite a bit more
than one without matching marks.
I happened to luck into this set at an Estate Sale recently for the
unbelievable price of $5.00, and had considered breaking it up to add the
Type II Susan B. Anthony dollar to my almost complete SBA set. But, if it
is really worth more as a complete matching Type II set, I will, of
course, not be doing this.
Any guidance you might be able to give would be greatly appreciated.
Douglas W. Paul, AIA
The 79s type II sets are a different story. Until recently, the sum of
the single coins bids was equal to the set price. Currently, you can
actually make money by breaking up complete sets and marketing the
individual coins. Complete sets of type II 79s are the norm rather than
I originally learned of the existance of the type II mint mark in 1982
when I examined
my shipment of 30 sets (november shipment date) and found the following:
27 SBAs, 29 Kennedies, 2 quarters, about 15 dimes, 30 nickels and 22
Needless to day, the 'windfall' made me a confirmed believer in the type
II coins & I have been buying and selling them ever since. It has also
made me very cognizant of the benefits of a 'little extra' knowledge and a
lifelong debtor to Alan Herbert
whose original article in Numismatic News helped me understand the
difference between the two mint marks ( and, incidently, to whom this
question was addressed). Many so-called experts have written on the
subject without benefit of accuracy and have added to the confusion
surrounding the 81s.
Even today, I would be hard-pressed to say that 50% of the dealers I run
in to know how to tell the difference.
See the previous post on this topic for additional comments on the 1981-S
type II sets. I agree, with one exception, I think the number of dealers
who can tell the difference between the type I and II mintmarks for 1981
is less than 5 percent. Even one of the grading services for a time was
authenticating variations of the type 1 as type II, and was circulating a
sketch which was based on the fields inside the loops, rather than the
elongation of the upper loop, which is the only positive marker for this
I still have plenty of photo charts, showing the four different mintmarks
for 1979 and 1981. For a free copy, include a loose 32-cent stamp (not an
SASE) and write to:
860 S 80th St
Mesa AZ 85208-4655
Dear Mr. Herbert;
Thank you for you reply to my posting regarding the 1979-S Type II proof
While on the subject of proof sets, I have another question which you
be able to answer.
I have a 1968-S proof set in which all five of the coins have what appears
to be a die-chip inside the loops of the "S" mintmark. Although this
looks like a die-chip, since it is basicaly the same on all the pieces, I
that it must be from a poorly cut mintmark stamp and may therefore be a
The marking is least noticable on the cent where it is only a very tiny
inside the lower loop directly above the serrif of the lower tail. This
spot appears, somewhat larger but in the same location, on the nickel with
additional and slightly smaller spot inside and almost touching the
edge of the upper inside loop of the "S".
The dime, quarter, and half-dollar have these same spots but they are much
larger, almost completely filling the insides of both the upper and lower
loops. Additionaly, the mintmark on the quarter exhibits what appears to
some slight doubling with a ghost shadow of an "S" slightly offset to the
upper left of the main mark.
I have only examined two other 1968-S Proof Sets and neither of them had
mintmarks on any of the coins that showed these "die-chip" spots. Have
ever seen any sets with this type mintmark and is it in fact a true
Thanks for your very valuable assistance.
Douglas W. Paul, AIA
Alan Herbert - Contributing Editor - Numismatic News
Krause Publications - "The World's Largest Hobby Publisher"