The decade of 1950-1959 was an important one for United States Mint Proof Sets. This time period saw the return of proof coinage for collectors, a significant redesign of the packaging, and a continual increase in mintages as proof set collecting became more popular.
The last time proof sets had been produced was 1942. The resumption of production in 1950 saw an incredible amount of pent up demand, evidenced by the sales of more than 50,000 sets compared to about 21,000 sets sold in 1942.
The Proof Sets were originally packaged in small boxes. Each individual coin was a placed in a cellophane pouch, all were stapled together at the top, wrapped within tissue paper, and placed within the box. This packaging format was changed mid way through 1955, when the coins were placed in flat packs. All coins were sealed within an individual compartment of a flat plastic cellophane, which was placed between two cardboard inserts, and put into an envelope.
During this decade, proof set sales swelled from the initial 51, 386 units to 1,149,291 by 1959. This marked a nearly twenty fold increase! The most desirable sets are the earlier years when mintages were lowest. The 1950 and 1951 sets can cost more than $500 for choice sets. Up until 1955, most sets are priced above the $100 mark.