While looking for biographical information about Rae Biester, I was surprised to learn that she was instrumental in the promotion of proof coin sets in the 1950s.
According to Tom DeLorey in The Three Major Eras of Modern Proof Sets, following the passage of legislation that allowed the US Mint to produce proof sets in 1950, sales started slowly as the public was getting used to the program and paying a small premium over face value for the “special handling.” The newly appointed Biester did what she could to help increase sales of proof sets, especially during a recession, in order to prevent layoffs. DeLorey writes:
Sales increased slowly over the first few years, and finally began to climb in 1954 under the personal care and promotion of the new Philadelphia Mint Superintendent Rae Biester, who sought to avoid a threatened round of layoffs by increasing Mint output via Proofs. Biester went so far as to write personal notes thanking buyers of the 1953 Proof sets, and inviting them and their friends to buy the 1954 and subsequent sets.
Under Biester’s administration the packaging was improved by placing the coins between two sheets of plastic divided into pockets via a simple pressure bonding, which allowed the coins to be viewed and displayed without removing them from their original holders. These &ldlquo;flat packs” appeared in mid-1955, and this is the only year which is collected by holder variations (other than by product variations).
By the time Mrs. Biester appeared on What’s My Line, she had saved the proof program and protected the employment of many US Mint employees.