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Why Purchase Key Dates?

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What makes a key date special enough to you to purchase it? Or perhaps better phrased is why spend the extra money on a key date?

 

There are many coins like the 1909-S VDB 1¢, the 1916-D 10¢, and the 1893-S $ that are very plentiful, but due to being a key date they command high prices. What makes you purchase these coins.

 

Why collect key dates? Are they overrated? I know some people will say that they would purchase these for investment reasons, but that doesn't go along with the fact that they also purchase the common ones that hold little investment potential.

 

Is it for ego? Is it the thrill of owning a "rare" coin - even if it isn't rare? Why spend the extra money on an 1893-S $ instead of an 1881-S $?

 

 

For fairness, maybe I should point out that I collect variety. I'd never collect by date/mint mark.

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You might ask why do we collect at all. If your trying to complete a set, how else but to include the keys? I don't plan on getting a 3-legged buff or a 22 plain just to fill a hole. But s-vdb or 14-d is required to complete the set. Are they overrated? No. Are they overpriced? Yes. Will I justify it as an investment? How else am I going to explain a purchase of a $500 cent to my wife? And I don't think I would consider it "ego," more like personal satisfaction that I completed it.

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Completion of a set is the best reason to collect key dates. It wouldn't be prudent for other collectors to collect key dates. I'd rather have 4 mint state 1879 Indian head cents than an 1877 Indian G4 for the same price but I'm not trying to complete a set.

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I want to complete my sets. I believe key dates will hold theri value, as opposed to going in and out of fashion. I recently purchased a 16-D merc, and I am confident I will never have to sell it for less than I paid for it. The satisfaction of completing the set, coupled with the underlying collector value and appreciation makes me believe this is not a mistake.

 

Further, while there are mintage figures for these key date coins, how many remain today? Not the full mintage, that's for sure.

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Greg:

 

Somewhat related to your post is an observation I have made that I'd like to check out with everyone here. In particular, it seems that for virtually every set of coins--Mercury dimes, Franklin Halves, Indian Head cents, modern commemoratives, etc.--there is always one or two coins that are signficantly more expensive than the rest of the set. These are what I think we'd call the key coins. I interpret this observation as follows: There are a bunch of collectors trying to complete the set. For most coins, the supply of available coins exceeds the number of collectors, so these coins are low priced. But for the key coins, the supply is less than the number of collectors trying to finish the set. So the prices of these key coins are often multiples of the prices of the more common coins.

 

From this perspective, Greg, I buy a key coin because I "need" it to complete the set. I'm not thrilled to have pay the big bucks, but if I want a complete set, I have to ante up.

 

Now, let me ask: Do others agree with my observation that often many coins in a set a relatively cheap, while a couple will be very expensive? And does my explanation seem to make sense?

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Mark

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So, is there any other reason to buy these key dates other than putting together a date/mint mark set or as an investment?

 

A few months ago I was lucky enough to get to see a bunch of coins from a world class type set. The owner of this set decided to go with key dates for many of his coins. For the Buffalo nickel, instead of doing a 38-D in MS67 for $100, he went with an MS65 37-D 3-leg. The T-1 SLQ was an MS65FH 1916 instead of the common 1917. I can understand purchasing coins like this if that is your goal. However, I feel a lot of people go after these key dates only because they are key dates.

 

I hear a lot of people talk about wanting a 16-D Mercury dime. They aren't putting together a set of them. They have a few, but they want the key.

 

After all, look at the 1950-D nickel. There are more of these in nice BU grades than there are Jefferson collectors. Yet, people will still pay a premium for them. It doesn't matter that it is harder to find nice examples of other date Jeffersons that were minted in much bigger quantities. The 1950-D is a key and people want it. Why?

 

I'm just trying to get a perspective into why some people want the key and are willing to pay for it.

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Does the 50-D really go for "Key Date" money in GEM? I didn't know that.

On a side note: I have a 50-D Jefferson into PCGS right now that's probably a VG08, at best. Now THAT'S a tough coin to find!

 

I think people are drawn to Key Dates because of the mystic in owning them.

I look at my 09-S VDB and know it could easily be replaced, in a New York second, with a quick scan of eBay, but because of the history of this coin I find myself drawn to it over say, a 1912-S.

 

I do also think though, that in the tougher, upper grades, the REAL RARITIES stand out. For example, in GEM RED, the 09-S VDB is NOT a "key date"- many other, more simple coins hold that designation that are common in lower grades.

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G-man,

 

I have a bit of a type-set mentality, even though I'm really a specialist collector.

 

For me, I'll chase after the keys that are actually rare. In the Lincoln series, I don't own a 09SVDB. Never have. I suppose one day I will have to have one just to finish the set. I was happier to acquire the 31-S...

 

I guess I ascribe a stricter definition of ``key'' than is typical.

 

EVP

 

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Key dates offer up history. There is always a good story behind a key date and that is more important to me than the coin. But why do I want key dates in the grades that i like? I like the idea of the relative rarity, although this may be more mystic than true (e.g., the 1950-D Jeff that was saved in droves in BU condition). But each date/mint mark combination has a story to tell, and that is more important to me than anything else.

 

Hoot

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Mark hit on something that is important in understanding the "key date" phonomena. People saved key dates in great numbers because the hobby promoted them, usually by low mintage, as being desireable to own. The 1950-D Nickel is a perfect example.

 

Why do people buy Duesenberg automobiles? Probably much for the same reason as they buy 1894-S Dimes. It is because they can, and it establishes some primacy in the human race to own the best, of whatever. It is "exclusivity". Many millions of our race are driven by this urge. It may not be readily explainable, but it certainly exists. tongue.gif

 

Correction of typo on 1894-S.

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Only reason i'd buy it is to complete a set. Of course, i could go type setting with common coins in the highest grades i can afford (which, right now, is about F!!!) But man, i want a complete set. To look at an album/folder and see NO holes. Do i want to spend 5X the amount!! No way. *Sigh* the agony of coin collecting.

 

B.

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