When I was in elementary school... sometime around the 3rd or 4th grade... I almost started a coin collection. One day I was digging through my parent's closet when I came across a box filled with "proof" sets. I asked my parents about them and they said they bought them to honor our birth year.
Right around the same time I made that discovery... my mother was volunteering at my school's book fair and she asked me if I wanted a coin collecting kit. Although I was tempted... ultimately I passed... and focused on baseball cards.
Almost two decades later... Pinnacle attempted to bring the two hobbies together by releasing a product called Pinnacle Mint which included both cards and coins. I'm pretty sure I thought they were kind of cool, but at the time money was tight... so I only opened up a few packs here or there.
Fast forward to 2023... and I stumble across a blog post featuring one of these coins... which inspired me to look for some on eBay. There was an auction with a $1 starting bid (+ $10.40 shipping), so I added it to my watch list and waited patiently. A few days later, I placed my bid with seconds remaining and won the auction. After shipping and taxes, the 1997 and 1998 Pinnacle Mint Coin sets set me back $11.77.
In the spirit of this being National Coin Week, I figured I'd show them off for your viewing pleasure.
Let's start off with the thirty bronze coins from the 1997 set:
1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #1-#6
Ken Griffey Jr., Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez,
Cal Ripken Jr., Mo Vaughn, and Juan Gonzalez
1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #7-#12
Mike Piazza, Albert Belle, Chipper Jones,
Andruw Jones, Greg Maddux, and Hideo Nomo
1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #13-#18
Jeff Bagwell, Manny Ramirez, Mark McGwire,
Derek Jeter, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds
1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #19-#24
Chuck Knoblauch, Dante Bichette, Tony Gwynn,
Ken Caminiti, Gary Sheffield, and Tim Salmon
1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #25-#30
Ivan Rodriguez, Henry Rodriguez, Barry Larkin,
Ryan Klesko, Brian Jordan, and Jay Buhner
Overall... the checklist is filled with big names from the 90's... including eleven guys who eventually got into Cooperstown. Honestly... the only questionable name that popped out was Henry Rodriguez. However after looking at his stats over on Baseball Reference, he had some solid seasons for the Cubs and Expos in the mid to late 90's.
The coins themselves are pretty cool for being a novelty item. Here's a closer look at the Tony Gwynn:
1997 Pinnacle Mint Coins #21
The front of each coin features the player's head and name, along with the team logo and coin number. All of the coin backs look exactly the same:
Pinnacle made sure to remind collectors that these were produced in limited quantities. How limited? Well... according to Baseballcardpedia, there were approximately 94,400 bronze coins produced for each player. That's a lot of coins floating around the hobby.
If that weren't enough... collectors could also pull nickel-silver, 24kt. gold plated, solid silver, and solid gold coins too, but the bronze are considered the common coins.
Back in the day... the suggested retail price was $3.99 a pack with each containing three cards and two coins. That price seems a little steep, but it must of sold well enough, because they released another baseball set in 1998... with 30 coins too:
1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #1-#6
Jeff Bagwell, Albert Belle, Barry Bonds,
Tony Clark, Roger Clemens, and Juan Gonzalez
1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #7-#12
Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn, Derek Jeter,
Randy Johnson, Chipper Jones, and Greg Maddux
1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #13-#18
Tino Martinez, Mark McGwire, Hideo Nomo,
Andy Pettitte, Mike Piazza, and Cal Ripken Jr.
1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #19-#24
Alex Rodriguez, Ivan Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa,
Frank Thomas, Mo Vaughn, and Larry Walker
1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #25-#30
Jose Cruz Jr., Nomar Garciaparra, Vladimir Guerrero,
Livan Hernandez, Andruw Jones, and Scott Rolen
Another solid checklist... with nearly 50% of the players being hall of famers. This year's coin design was a little more intricate and attractive (in my humble opinion):
1998 Pinnacle Mint Coins #8
Each of the bronze coins in the 1998 set have same mesmerizing design on the back:
Personally... I think the back design is a little too busy. It makes me feel like I'm staring into one of those Magic Eye posters from the 90's.
In the end... I feel like collectors either like gimmicky products like Pinnacle Mint or they really, really don't. I like them enough... if the price is right. I was willing to spend up to $16 (that includes shipping and tax) for these two sets. The fact that I was able to get them for a little under 20¢ per coin is a win in my book.
What about you?
Did you buy any of these coins back in the 90's? Do you collect them as part of your player and team collections?
Leave your thoughts down below.
The coin collecting saga doesn't end there. Back in February, my father gave me some quarter sets from the 2000's. He wasn't exactly sure why he bought them, but he made it sound like it was part of a subscription program where they'd send him new coins each month. I haven't had the time to go through them yet. Maybe I'll write up a post in honor of next year's National Coin Week.
Happy Tuesday and sayonara!