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Assembling a Nice Circulated Coin Registry Set



We?d all love to assemble mint-state classic coin sets, but realistically, it ain?t gonna happen for most of us.

As far as I am concerned, there is no coin more beautiful than a large, 19th Century, high-grade cameo proof, add a touch of teal toning, and I?d think the coin came from heaven. Nonetheless, coins like the one I just described only come at a hefty price. For a good portion of us, including myself, to collect 19th century coins we have to settle for something less than proof and mint-state coins. A possible exception may be to collect high-grade 19th Century mint sets rather than collecting a series or type. What makes a mint set doable is the limited number of coins needed to complete the set coupled with the numerous amount of years available, otherwise, the cost for many of us is prohibitive. Even so, to have a top rated mint set is still extremely expensive.

Like most things, the law of supply and demand governs the price of coins. With a few exceptions, when I assembled my 20th Century type set, I found I could collect lower mint-state coins at reasonable prices. This is directly attributable to a good supply of coins meeting the demand. Now go back 100 years or more and you find far fewer coins in a good state of preservation, and now the supply cannot keep up with the demand, so the price increases. Except for unknown hoards, the supply of coins is a finite number, allowing them to hold and increase in value as long as the demand (the only real variable) remains high. For example, the person who spent 7 million dollars for a 1933 St Gaudens double eagle cannot possibly be happy about the prospect of ten more coins, in what amounts to a hoard, entering the market place. In this case, because the supply will increase by 10 fold, the 7 million dollar value will not hold. Even so, I do not think I?ll be bidding on any of those 10 coins should they come to auction.

This leaves me to decide what level of preservation I will accept to populate my classic coin type set. Fortunately, there are attractive coins grading VF and higher that I can populate my set with that will not set me back financially. For the most part, coins on the high end of the VF scale have devices that are sharp, but show signs of even wear. Details on the VF coin are usually worn, but visible. Therefore, 19th Century coins grading VF or better give me the balance I am looking for between value and eye-appeal. Naturally, if I can achieve this balance with a mint-state coin, I?ll buy that. For instance, I can buy a low-grade MS three-cent nickel coin for around $100.

To prove my point I am posting a side-by-side photo collage of a MS-64 Indian Head cent and a one-year type 1859 Indian Head cent. The 1859 cent is currently with NGC for grading, but I estimate the grade to be in the VF range. Both coins were reasonably priced with the MS cent costing me slightly less than $100 and the 1859-cent, $50. With a fair market value of $1090 for an MS-64 1859 cent in this instance, the VF coin achieves my value/eye-appeal balance objectives rather nicely. In a side-by-side comparison, the 1859 coin has sharp devices, but lacks detail in the ribbon, hair, and feathers. Liberty is worn, but visible. The main device is strong and evenly worn and the details, though worn are outlined clearly. Except for the tips, much of the detail on the feathers remains. Overall, for $1040, I think this coin is a fair trade-off.


In summary, you gotta love a hobby that allows players of any financial means to get in the game. As for my love of high-grade 19th Century proof coins, I will always enjoy looking without owning. Happy collecting all!





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