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November 16, 2010

Collecting and Investing in Sets of Coins
By Mike Sussman

Most modern collectors got started by trying to fill "penny" boards and other denomination Whitman coin folders. They are still on the market and make great gifts for grandchildren along with some of the coins that go in the folder. When they are brand new, the individual coin holes can be very tight and a younger child might need assistance getting the coins into the book. Several hours could be spent helping a child in this low tech activity.

Some collectors enjoy variations on collecting every date and mint in a given set. One way to do this is to collect one coin from each date in a set. So for example a Lincoln cent date set would begin with a 1909 or a 1909 VDB followed by a 1910 and so on. This set could be put together on a very modest budget, assuming, of course, that the collector recognizes that the 1922 cent is a branch mint issue. In this type of collecting, mintmarks are ignored except if a coin were minted for that year only in a branch mint. Such an example would be a half dollar from 1968 to 1970 that were branch mint only issues. On the other end of the spectrum, a lovely Indian Head eagle - double eagle date set could be assembled. The most challenging dates are for the eagle set are 1930 and 1933. For the double eagle the most challenging dates are 1921, 1929, 1930, 1931, and 1932. (As this is being written, only one 1933 double eagle can be owned legally.)

There are other ways to collect sets as well. For example one could specialize in a particular branch mint. Collecting Carson City dollars is very popular today. Some collectors specialize in Carson City gold coins as well. Coins are also collected by date. A famous Large Cent collection consisted of only coins from 1794. There are approximately 70 varieties of Large Cent coins for this date.

Coins with historical connections have always been popular. With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War approaching, the coins of the 1861-65 along with associated commemoratives have been much in demand. It would also be quite possible to put together a set of coins that circulated during World War I or II, for that matter. Another interesting set might be an Allied Forces set from each of the countries that fought together in the war. One could make a similar set for the Axis countries. (I suppose Russia would have to be in both sets.) Also popular in historical contexts are commemorative coins. One could collect a set of 14 Oregon Trail commemoratives, for example, that would cover 1926 to 1939 or a Texas set from 1934 to 1938 in which there were 13 issues. A type set of Classic Commemorative also makes a nice collection. In this endeavor, one of each design would be collected.

Other coins are also collected by type. A type set can include an example of each type of coin for a period of time. Sometimes these are limited by denomination. For example a twentieth century type set of half dollars would include a Barber half, a Walking Liberty, a Franklin, a Kennedy, and a Bicentennial Kennedy. Similarly one could envision a type set of gold eagle coins. These would include a Capped Bust Small Eagle; a Capped Bust Heraldic Eagle; a Liberty Head, No Motto; a Liberty Head, Motto; an Indian Head, No Motto; and an Indian Head, Motto.

One could collect all of the coins designed by Christian Gobrecht or James Longacre or, more contemporary, James Earle Fraser and his wife, Laura Gardin Fraser.

Collecting coins in sets is satisfying because it gives the collector goals that can be achieved.

Mike Sussman

Mike can be reached at mikesussman@usrarecoininvestments.com or call us at 1-800-624-1870

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