BUILDING A TYPE SET OF U.S. COINS
by John H. MacMillan Ph.D.
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What is a type set?
A type set is generally defined as a collection that contains one, and only one, of
each design for a series or complete coinage series. For example, a complete type set of 3
cent silver will be only 3 pieces while a complete type set of U.S. circulating coins
would contain one of each design type from half cents through bullion platinum and from
1792 to the present. Major design types are usually supplemented with variations such as
coins with and without arrows, rays, drapery or mottoes. A collector can decide which
varieties to include as a matter of personal preference. This article is my attempt to
share my experiences of collecting U.S. type coins. As a collector of moderate means I can
give an overview of collecting strategies, pitfalls and guidelines for assembling a
beautiful collection with annual expenditures of $2000 or less. A collector has his entire
life to enjoy this collecting specialty, so patience is required. I have collected for
over 30 years and now have all but 2 types for the period 1834-present. A complete
collection is impossible for all but the most wealthy so compromises and hard choices must
be made. The article is broken into chapters for easy reading. I hope to convince you that
type collecting is the most enjoyable specialty in U.S. coin collecting. The general
principles elucidated here are also applicable to other specialties, such as
commemoratives, ancients, hard times tokens and world coins.
2) Why collect by type?
Variety is the spice of life for the type collector. A date collector assembles one of
each date and mintmark for a series such as Lincoln cents or silver dollars. A varieties
collector may focus on minute die variations in large cents or half cents. Reasons to
collect by type rather than the other methods include:
a. A type collection shows all the designs of U.S. coinage, some designs being very
beautiful. Such a collection if exhibited will be of greater appeal to non-collectors or
beginners. Exotic denominations such as 2 cent pieces or $2.50 gold usually elicit
interest from the public. If you want to experience the complete panorama of U.S. coinage,
from half cents to double eagles, a well-developed type collection will view as a
b. A type collector with only moderate reading can gain a wide overview of the history
of U.S. coinage, minting practices and reasons for design changes.
c. A type collection is easy to start, as late 20th and 21st century designs are mostly
cheap even in high grades (excepting gold and platinum bullion coins).
d. A type collection can be a store of value and even a good investment if choice
problem free specimens of good eye appeal are obtained. What we mean by these terms will
be elaborated on later.
3) Advantages and disadvantages of type collecting
Some of the advantages of type collecting have been mentioned in section 2 above. In
addition some other advantages are:
Only moderate research is needed to get started. A copy of "The guidebook of U.S.
coins" (Red Book) (~$12.00) if bought and thumbed through will give a beginner a
general overview. After common twentieth century types are acquired the collector can
obtain more detailed texts such as Walter Breens "Complete encyclopedia of U.S.
Coins (~ $75.00).
A type collector can pick up bargains in currently slow series such as 2 cent pieces or
half dimes. Many low mintage dates in some series are available in extremely fine of
higher conditions at moderate prices.
Some disadvantages include:
A type collector will not gain in depth knowledge of a particular series or
denomination. He is a "jack of all trades, master of none".
Type collecting becomes, except for the wealthy, impossibly expensive for choice
condition 18th and early nineteenth century issues, particularly gold coins.
Even well worn "good" condition coins can run from $500 up for most specimens.
For even the wealthy the 1808 quarter eagle is a challenge, available infrequently at
auctions. Choice reproductions of many 18th century coins are now available,
manufactured by the Gallery Mint Museum in Eureka Springs Arkansas. These provide a
beautiful and moderately priced alternative. This collector has filled many holes in this
4) Major vs Minor design types
It is a matter of personal preference whether a type collector wishes to include only
the major designs, the moderate variations present in the "Red Book", or even
more subtle variations. This collector personally adds different alloy variations as long
as they are circulating coins, for example, 90% silver, 40% silver and clad Kennedy half
dollars. In my opinion circulating commemoratives, such as the 1776-1976 bicentennial
series and state quarters, and uncirculated bullion coins should be included. Non
circulating silver proof or uncirculated general commemoratives should not. Whether
modern uncirculated bullion coins should be included is again a matter of collector
preference. While technically issued for circulation, of course they only circulate among
bullion dealers and collectors.
Three U.S coins have always generated controversy as to whether they are patterns or
struck for circulation. If patterns they are not to be represented in a type set of
circulating U.S. coins. The questionable coins are described below, along with my opinion.
1. 1792 half disme. In my opinion it is a coin struck for circulation, as it was struck
with existing mint equipment in a basement in Philadelphia during 1792 and released. Most
specimens today are well worn, indicating extensive use by the public.
2. 1836-1838 Gobrecht dollars. Much confusion existed for many decades over these, as
indeed many variations of patterns were struck. However mint records indicate that very
small mintages, 1000 pieces or less, were issued as general releases in 1836 and 1838.
Thus in my opinion it is a general issue. This issue presents a financial challenge. It is
one of my missing coins, along with the 1907 Roman numeral high relief double eagle!
3. Four dollar gold pieces or "Stellas", are a "no brainer" as all
were issued as patterns. Nonetheless many wealthy collectors include them, as the designs
and denominations are quite unique.
5) The U.S. typeset list
This in my opinion is the complete type coin list for circulating U.S.
Flowing Hair 1793
Liberty Cap Large Head 1794
Liberty Cap Small Head 1795-1797
Draped Bust 1800-1808
Classic Head 1809-1835
Coronet Head 1840-1857
Liberty Cap High Relief Large Head 1794
Liberty Cap Low Relief Small Head 1795-6
Draped Bust 1796-1807
Classic head 1808-1814
Coronet Head 1816-1839
Braided Hair 1840-1857
Flying Eagle 1857-1858
Indian CN 1859
Indian CN 1860-1863
Lincoln 1909 V.D.B.
Lincoln 1943 steel
Lincoln Memorial 1959-
Two-Cent Pieces 1864-1873
Silver Three Cent Pieces
Type 1 1851-1853
Type 2 1854-1858
Type 3 1859-1873
Nickel Three Cent Pieces 1865-1889
5 Cent Nickels
Shield-No Rays 1867-1883
Liberty Head NC 1883
Liberty Head WC 1883-1912
Buffalo Type 1 1913
Buffalo Type 2 1913-1938
Jefferson Wartime 1942-1945
Half Disme 1792
Flowing Hair 1794-1795
Draped Bust SE 1796-1797
Draped Bust HE 1800-1805
Capped Bust 1829-1837
Liberty Seated-NS 1837-1838
Liberty Seated No Drapery 1838-1840
Liberty Seated-Stars 1838-1859
Liberty Seated-Arrows 1853-1855
Liberty Seated-Legend 1860-1873
Draped bust SE 1796-1797
Draped Bust HE 1798-1807
Capped Bust Large 1809-1828
Capped Bust Small 1828-1837
Liberty seated No Stars 1837-1838)
Liberty seated Stars 1838-1860
Liberty Seated No Drapery 1838-1840
Liberty seated Arrows 1853-1855
Liberty seated Legend 1860-1891
Liberty Seated Arrows 1873-1874
Roosevelt 1946-1964 Silver
Roosevelt 1965- Clad
Twenty Cent Piece 1875-1878
Draped bust SE 1796
Draped Bust HE 1804-1807
Large Bust 1815-1828
Small Bust 1831-1838
Liberty Seated No Motto No Drapery1838-1840
Liberty Seated No Motto with drapery 1838-1865
Liberty Seated A & R 1853
Liberty Seated Arrows 1854-1855
Liberty Seated with motto 1866-1891
Liberty Seated Arrows 1873-1874
Standing liberty type 1 1916-1917
Standing liberty type 2 1917-1930
Washington Clad 1965-98
Bicentennial 1976 clad
Bicentennial 1976 40% silver
State quarters 1999 clad
State quarters 1999 90% silver
Flowing Hair 1794-1795
Draped Bust Small Eagle 1796-1797
Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle 1801-1807
Capped Bust 1807-1836
Capped Bust Reeded Edge 1836-1839
Liberty seated No motto No Drapery 1839
Liberty seated No Motto with drapery 1839-1866
Liberty seated Arrows and Rays 1853
Liberty seated Arrows 1854-1855
Liberty seated With Motto 1866-1891
Liberty seated Arrows 1873-1874
Liberty Walking 1916-1947
Kennedy 1964 Silver
Kennedy 1965-70 40% silver
Kennedy Bicentennial 1976 clad
Kennedy Bicentennial 1976 40% silver
Flowing Hair 1794-1795
Draped Bust Small Eagle 1795-1798
Draped Bust Heraldic Eagle 1798-1804
Liberty Seated No Motto 1840-1866
Liberty seated With Motto 1866-1873
Trade Dollar 1873-1883
Peace High Relief 1921
Eisenhower 1971-1978 clad
Eisenhower 1971-1978 40% silver
Eisenhower Bicentennial 1976 clad
Eisenhower Bicentennial 1976 40% silver
Susan B. Anthony 1979-1999
Type 1 1849-1854
Type 2 1854-1856
Type 3 1856-1889
Quarter Eagles, $2.50 Gold Pieces
Capped Bust Right No stars 1796
Capped Bust Right 1796-1807
Capped Bust Left Large 1808
Capped Bust Left Small 1821-1827
Capped Bust Left Small 1829-1834
Classic Head 1834-1839
Liberty Coronet 1840-1907
Indian Head 1908-1929
Three Dollar Gold 1854-1889
Half Eagles, $5.00 Gold Pieces
Capped Bust Small Eagle 1795-1798
Capped Bust Large Eagle 1795-1807
Capped Draped Bust 1807-1812
Capped Head 1813-1834
Classic Head 1834-1838
Liberty Coronet No Motto 1839-1866
Liberty Coronet with Motto 1866-1908
Indian Head 1908-1929
Eagles, $10.00 Gold Pieces
Capped Bust Small Eagle 1795-1797
Capped Bust Large Eagle 1797-1804
Liberty Coronet No Motto 1838-1866
Liberty Coronet 1866-1907
Indian Head No Motto 1907-1908
Indian Head 1908-1933
Double Eagles, $20.00 Gold Pieces
Liberty Coronet No Motto 1849-1866
Liberty Coronet (twenty D) 1866-1876
Liberty Coronet 1877-1907
Saint Gaudens Roman Numerals High relief 1907
Saint Gaudens No Motto 1907-1908
Saint Gaudens with motto 1907-1932
One ounce silver $1.00 1986-
Tenth ounce gold $5.00 1986-
Quarter ounce gold $10.00 1986-
Half ounce gold $25.00 1986-
One ounce gold $50.00 1986-
Tenth ounce-one ounce platinum $10.00-$100.00 1997-
6) Getting started
Getting started as a type set collector is quite easy if one desires a set of
circulating U.S. coins. One may pull nearly uncirculated examples from change and upgrade
by ordering proof sets from the U.S. mint at less than $20.00. As many state quarters are
circulating, this phase can be quite a lot of fun for several months.
After the fun phase the new type collector can focus on earlier twentieth century
issues. At this point his first buying decisions must be made. Should he buy uncirculated
or proof walkers, standing quarters, buffalo nickels etc or settle for circulated grades?
As a rule of thumb, this collector would advise that you proceed by acquiring the best
grade you can afford, remembering to not show glaring grade discrepancies if you will
exhibit. For example, a fine condition standing quarter will "stick out like a sore
thumb" in a collection surrounded by about uncirculated or brilliant uncirculated
quarters. Excluding Barber quarters, and gold coins, a twentieth century type collection
should be assembled at a minimum of about uncirculated grade.
The second half of the nineteenth century will provide far more difficult grading and
acquisition decisions. Does the collector try for extremely fine as the minimum grade or
very fine? Should he include all Red Book varieties, even more exotic variations such as
the 1859 "hollow star" half dime, or only the major types? The financial
resources of the collector, his preferences and patience, all will influence his decision.
I would advise purchasing this fifty year period in a minimum of extremely fine grade,
even if the acquisitions slow somewhat due to finances. After all, you have your entire
life to collect, and attractive higher grade coins always bring more on resale.
The decisions become even more difficult for the first 50 years of the nineteenth
century. Are "no drapery" versions of the seated half dimes through half dollars
to be included? I believe they are significant variations and have included them in my
set. Prices are quite reasonable for the no drapery series in very fine and extremely fine
grade. Early gold coins from 1800-1833 are rare due to extensive melting, and are out of
the price range of the average collector. I advise focusing on completing gold type from
1834 on in minimum of extremely fine grade. Certain early gold types are also available as
legal reproductions (see section 13). An additional complication now arising is how to
deal with poorly struck issues, such as 1808-1814 large cents and 1800-1805 half dimes
/dimes. Well struck problem free examples of these series are rare and cost many multiples
of average strikes. My usual advice not to buy weakly struck coins still applies here
unless the collector is on a very tight budget. Costs rise dramatically in all series for
about uncirculated grade and above. This collector has set a minimum grade of very fine
for all coins of this period. As always you the collector must make your decisions based
on "finances, preference and level of patience". Never buy "bright
shiny" early copper or silver unless professionally certified, as cleaning is
probable. A cleaned coin is a difficult sell later.
As has been mentioned earlier, choice eighteenth century type coins become nearly
impossible for the moderate means collector. He may think that he must make difficult
choices between obtaining extremely worn examples of many series (chain, wreath cents,
early dimes) at greater than $500, or acquiring choice specimens only after protracted
savings plans. I solved this problem by obtaining a minimum of very fine grade for the
type coins costing $1000 or less. The remaining slots were partially filled with choice
reproductions from the Gallery Mint Museum in Eureka Springs Arkansas. Vacant slots
hopefully await further reproductions! Some discontinued GMM issues such as chain and
wreath cents, have appreciated substantially in the open market. Nonetheless, several
hundred dollars in my opinion is preferable to several thousand for barely discernable
The topic of grading will always bring controversy, but I will give brief
a. Buy a copy of "Photograde" by James F. Ruddy and study all the pictures.
Read the fine print about idiosyncrasies in each series. Try to grade yourself all
circulated type coins you view, as moderate means collectors will include many circulated
coins in their type set.
b. If you are uncomfortable grading yourself, buy only Professional Coin Grading
Service or Numismatic Guarantee Corporation certified coins, even if they cost more. The
old cliches read true in coin collecting, "you get what you pay for" and
"there is no Santa Claus in Numismatics". On eventual resale, a high percent
recovery of cost, or even profit, is more probable for coins graded by these services.
c. Do not buy weakly struck coins, even if attractively priced. A weakly struck coin
shows design obliteration only in specific areas, not on all, as is the case for a worn
specimen. If you are unsure, pass on it.
d. If you do not like how a coin looks dont buy it, as others probably wont like
e. View as many coins as possible in all series. Internet auctions such as E-bay,
www.ebay.com, and Internet dealers on-line catalogs are great starters. Go to all local
shows and scan the bourse floor! Learning to grade yourself before bidding is especially
critical for internet auctions, as many coins offered there are grossly over graded.
8) Methods of procuring type coins
Viewing and obtaining coins has never been easier. On line auctions such as E-bay have
brought coin bidding to our living rooms. In addition to the new internet method all
classical methods retain their validity. This collector has bought by every method here.
a. Numismatic adds such as in Coin World.
b. Mail bid sales, also often in Coin World.
c. Local dealers shops
d. Live Auctions
e. Personal transactions. See if you have a local coin club for personal interactions
with other collectors.
f. Fixed price lists Request to be on mailing lists by contacting dealers in numismatic
g. Numismatic chat rooms on the internet.
9) Common versus scarce dates
Conventional wisdom states that a type collection should be
filled with the most common dates in order to easily obtain choice
specimens at moderate cost. Contrarian arguments to this strategy are:
a. Common dates of recent series may be un-saleable and will be lumped together and
dumped wholesale on liquidation of the collection.
b. Scarce dates in many series are available at the same price or moderate markups from
prices of the most common dates. Examples abound in the gold series and nineteenth century
liberty seated coinage. Study the prices and mintage figures in the "Red Book".
A scarcer date for a type coin could wake up some day and bring you a profit!
10) Grading and grade matching
Some earlier comments should be repeated here. For example, a fine condition
standing quarter will "stick out like a sore thumb" in a quarter type collection
surrounded by about uncirculated or brilliant uncirculated examples. Try to have the coins
on each side of your specimen in the type series be within one grade level. An
aesthetically pleasing type coin exhibit, even if consisting of "middle"
circulated grades, will be a source of satisfaction and pride for the type collector. If
the type collector fills the late 18 th century type coin examples with modern
reproductions, such as those offered by the Gallery mint Museum(
http://www.coin-gallery.com/gmm/ ), he must decide whether to buy proof or uncirculated
versions. This collector prefers uncirculated pieces since in most cases they more closely
resemble the early coins as first struck. The "Copy" designation is generally
less obtrusive on the reverse. Grade matching will of course not work here if you also
include some real 18th century type coins. My minimum recommended grades per 50 year
21st Century B.U. and Proof
20th century 1950-2000 B.U. and Proof
20th Century 1901-1949, A.U.
19th century 1850-1900 E.F.
19th century 1801-1849 Fine
18th Century V.G. (except for reproductions)
If you do not intent to exhibit these suggestions are less important.<>
11) Common Mistakes
I have made most of these mistakes myself. "Act in haste, repeat in leisure".
I hope these lessons learned will help you.
a) Buying low grade coins to "quickly fill the holes" is always a
mistake as low grade coins have poor eye appeal and have practically no resale
value. If you are compulsive and impatient like me you can fall into this trap.
b) Not returning a coin with some problem as it is a "hassle" to repackage
and mail. Believe me, it is a bigger hassle to be stuck with a doggy coin and face the
necessity of upgrading it later. Ship it back to the dealer and dont look back!
c) Buying for profit. Type coin collecting is for fun, and a collection acquired over
many years can sometimes but not always be sold for gain. Most circulated type coins bring
only 30-60% of retail. If you seek profit from type collecting buy only P.C.G.S or N.G.C.
certified coins in mint state 63 and higher. Even for these coins profit is not
guaranteed. The coin market is extremely cyclical with constant switching of
"hot" and "slow" series. An advantage for the type collector is his
intrinsic diversification by possessing many different series.
d) Impulse buying. Always have a short list of coins you wish to add in the next
several months, their range of conditions, and expected price ranges. If the next morning
you have delayed sticker shock, return the coin immediately. Repenting is always in
e) Going off the track. If you wish to enjoy collecting to the fullest, you should
focus on at most two collecting specialties at a time. Doing otherwise will squander money
and time on what will look like a mishmash with no theme. This collector in addition to
U.S. type coins also has a small collection of political hard times tokens.
In general, if you have the patience and discipline it is best to buy
your type coin just once in a pleasing grade that shows all the design details. Buying
lower grade coins to fill the holes was mentioned earlier as a mistake. When you upgrade
you become saddled with a lower grade duplicate that you probably cannot sell at retail
value or even cost. Thus you are paying more for the item in the long term. If you must
upgrade, my general rule is that upgrading less than two full grade units is not worth it.
For example upgrade a very fine coin to about uncirculated, a fine coin to extremely fine,
etc. At least in this manner you will see a significant upgrade in eye appeal and detail,
partially compensating for probable financial loss.
It was mentioned earlier that many early U.S. type coins are high
priced even in low grades. It is a matter of collector preference if you wish to fill
these holes with modern reproductions. All legitimate reproductions contain the word
"copy" on obverse or reverse. This collector has been well satisfied with those
manufactured by the Gallery Mint Museum in Eureka Springs Arkansas. They are made with
close reproductions of original mint equipment and are quite attractive. I collect the
uncirculated rather than the proof versions, as they more closely resemble the look of the
14) Spicing it up
In addition to the classic U.S. circulating type coin series many other
interesting tokens or medals have actively circulated as money. Periods such as the
financially tumultuous 1830s or civil war era saw Federal money disappear. Many private
tokens actively circulated with political and patriotic themes or advertising. Prior to
1788 the states also legally could coin their own money. Such additions add breadth to the
collection at moderate cost. Below is a list of potential candidates.
State half cent (only Massachusetts)
State cent (Ma, Ct, Ny or Vt)
Political Hard Times Token (1834-1844)
Half Cent Hard Times Token 1837
Store Card Hard Times Token (1834-1844)
Feuchtwanger cent 1837
Feuchtwanger three cent 1837 (a toughie)
Patriotic civil war token
Store card civil war token
Hobo Nickel (1930,s buffalo nickels, carved on obv to various portraits). Many modern
reproductions exist. Do not pay over $10.00 unless certified by a reputable specialist in
Racketeer Nickel (1883 no cents nickel, gold plated to pass as $5 gold piece). Comments
same as for Hobo Nickel.
15) Managing your budget
Coin collecting can become addicting, and many collectors go over their
budget on impulse purchases or spending sprees. It is imperative that you set a maximum
amount you will be spend per month or year. This collector has found that on an amount of
$1500-$2000 per year rapid progress is possible for several years, provided that the
period is from 1850-present and the grades are extremely fine to proof. In todays
age this amount of money could be spent on a single computer or set of golf clubs! The
collectors advantage is that the collection will at least give a partial return of his
money in the future, as compared to other items that depreciate to zero.
16) Whats the point of it?
Collectors, whether of coins, stamps, antiques, dolls or whatever, seem
to have a natural affinity for acquiring, cataloging and striving to complete groups of
As stated earlier, collecting by design type is a life long pursuit for most collectors
unless they are quite comfortable financially. For most people, the "thrill of the
chase" and the satisfaction on obtaining a new choice item are the principle rewards.
Completion will actually lead to apathy and lack of collecting purpose for many. When
additions slow as the collection becomes more advanced, many collectors such as this
author turn to numismatic education or writing to keep the thrill of involvement. If you
are just beginning there will be many years of acquisitions, searching and enjoyment for
you before reaching this point.
17) Storing your type coins
Storing coins is indeed a problem. The collector must not use PVC (polyvinyl
Plasticiser and chlorine in this plastic will corrode the surface of coins,
Also avoid "cellulose" or "nitrocellulose" plastics as they can
evolve corrosive nitric acid.
Use polyethylene film based cardboard holders, polyethylene terphthalate (PET) flips or
Mylar. Solid Lucite holders are also acceptable.
Proof sets prior to 1955 came packaged in "boxes" with coins in degradable
plastic pouches (cellulosic?). They all should be re-housed in suitable flips or Lucite.
Proof sets from 1955-1964 are housed in polyethylene and seem to hold up well over the
years. Re-house only for exhibiting purposes.
Certified coins and modern proof sets are generally housed in non corroding plastic,
but all holders are permeable to corrosive gases such as hydrogen sulfide or sulfur
dioxide. Store your coins in a dry secure (bank vault) environment with "sulfur
scavengers" i.e. silver impregnated paper, in the vault if possible for added
Avoid storage by wrapping the coin in Aluminum foil. While effective in preventing
tarnish, the aluminum can leave hairline scratches, particularly on proof coins.
How does the type collector detect corrosive chlorine? Run the "Beilstein"
Take a piece of copper wire and heat it in the blue flame of a gas stove, Bunsen burner
or acetylene torch until it glows red. then place the hot wire on a tiny piece of the
plastic (the plastic will melt on the copper). Place the plastic/copper melt back in the
flame. If the flame turns green or "azure", deep blue/purple, after the initial
yellow burn, the plastic has chlorine. If only yellow is seen your flip is chlorine free
and probably acceptable. Copper chloride formed in the flame is responsible for the
No paper envelopes can be trusted to be sulfur free. Sulfur tarnishes silver, nickel
and copper coins.
Susan Maltby at firstname.lastname@example.org, is a Toronto based conservationist and coin
storage expert that can add much more detail to the background information above. She is a
regular columnist in Coin World, www.coinworld.com.
18) Exhibiting your Type Collection
After several years of active collecting, many type collectors will feel the urge to exhibit their collection.
Reasons to exhibit can include one of three common motives.
a) Personal Pleasure. Many collectors want to observe their coins in a
pleasing logical format. Many standard "type coin" panels are commercially
available. They will include the standard types and may not include minor types of
interest to you. If you are willing to limit yourself to the common types, the "Kingsword
Series" type coin holders, available from Bowers and Merena Galleries,
Woolfeboro New.Hampshire, are an excellent choice. Collectors of moderate means can expect
to fill all the "holes" in these panels, including gold, from 1834 to the
present, with two exceptions, the Gobrecht dollars of 1836-1839 and the 1907 high relief
Saint Gaudens double eagle.
b) To interest family members or friends. If your goal is to
have an interesting conversation piece for viewing by family or friends the commercial
holders may not be the best choice. Non collectors are most interested by gold coins and
odd or strange denominations such as two cent pieces, half cents or quarter eagles. The
type collector must then customize the exhibit for his audience. To do this effectively he
will need to prepare his own holders, including background and text. An excellent article
detailing the best methods to do this is:
Carlton, R. Scott, "The Art and Science of Numismatic Exhibiting",
The Numismatist, April, 1990, p550.
c) Professional Exhibiting. The serious type collector may want to
exhibit at a local,regional or national convention. Prizes are awarded and the exhibits
judged. In this environment, aesthetics of the exhibit, novelty of theme, high coin
grade and completeness are critical. Scott Carlton's article cited above will again
give many valuable pointers.
Themes: Creative type collectors can devise many themes of great
interest to the general public. Novel themes are also more likely to win prizes at
numismatic conventions.While the possible themes are limited only by imagination, below
are listed possible theme exhibits likely to spark non-collector interest.
a) Odd denominations. Half cent, Large cent, two cent piece, three
cent silver, three cent nickel, half dime, twenty cent piece, gold dollar, quarter eagle,
three dollar gold piece.
b) Pairs, differing design types of a denomination struck in the same
year. They are:
1793 chain, wreath and liberty cap cents (Use Gallery Mint Museum
1857 large cent, flying eagle cent
1909 indian, lincoln cents
1883 shield, liberty nickels
1938 buffalo, Jefferson nickels
1837 capped bust, liberty seated half dimes
1837 capped bust, liberty seated dimes
1916 Barber, mercury dimes
1838 capped bust, liberty seated quarters
1916 Barber, standing liberty quarters (tough)
1807 draped bust, capped bust half dollars
1839 capped bust, liberty seated half dollars
1921 Morgan, peace dollars
1854 type one, type two gold dollars
1856 type two, type three gold dollars
1795 small eagle, heraldic eagle $5.00 gold (very tough)
1834 capped head to left, classic head $5.00 gold (very tough)
1908 coronet, indian $5.00 gold
1797 small eagle, heraldic eagle $10.00 gold (very tough)
1907 coronet, indian $10.00 gold
1907 liberty, Saint Gaudens $20.00 gold
c) Confusing or inconvenient denominations
half cent (too big, too little purchasing power, even in 19th century)
large cent (too big)
three cent silver (too small, easily lost)
1883 "no cents" nickel (same size as $5.00 gold
piece, gold plated and passed as half eagle)
Twenty cent piece ( confused with quarter)
One dollar gold piece, type one (too small, easily lost)
Susan B. Anthony dollar (confused with quarter)
Themes which could be a hit with judges at convention exhibits include:
a) Rarest date in series shown for each design type (example, 1916
shown for standing liberty quarter type one). Obviously this is an expensive theme for
type collectors of financial means.
b) First date for type shown ( examples, 1892 for Barber series
of dimes, quarters and half dollars).
c) Last date of type shown, (examples, 1915 for Barber series)
I have merely touched on some of the innovative ways that the collector can exhibit his
type collection. The creative collector should be able to desighn many other interesting
19) Final Thoughts
I hope this article will get you as enthusiastic as I am about U.S.
type collecting. My initial interest in coins was kindled as a boy when my grandfather
gave me old worn large cents and indian cents on summer visits. On his passing he left me
several gold coins which are still in my collection. They were my cornerstones to
collecting enjoyment. If you start with modern U.S. coins, they are a great cornerstone
too. Good luck in your collecting endeavors.
All coin collectors should have a numismatic library for reference and
research. Below are my selections. Of course each collector will find different books of
interest. In my opinion, Breen's massive work, Bowers book on design types, the
"Red Book" and "Photograde" are musts for type collectors. They
are highlighted in bold.
Bowers, Q. David, "United States Copper Coins", published by Bowers and
Merena Galleries, Woolfeboro, N.H. 4th edition, 1990.
Bowers, Q. David, "A buyers Guide to the Rare Coin Market", published by
Bowers and Merena Galleries, Woolfeboro, N.H. , 1990.
Bowers, Q. David, "United States Dimes, Quarters and Half Dollars", published
by Bowers and Merena Galleries, Woolfeboro, N.H., 1986.
Bowers, Q. David, "The Numismatists Lakeside Companion", published by Bowers
and Merena Galleries, Woolfeboro, N.H. Vol. 3, 1990.
Bowers, Q. David, "United States Coins by Design Types", published by
Bowers and Merena Galleries, Woolfeboro, N.H. 2nd edition, 1989.
Breen, Walter, "Walter Breen's Complete Encyclopedia of U.S. and Colonial
Coins", F.C.I. Press, Inc, Doubleday, 1988
Bresett, Ken, and Kosoff, A, "The Official American Numismatic Association
Grading Standards for United States Coins", published by the American
Numismatic Association, 1977.
Editors of Coin World, "The Complete Catalog and Encyclopedia of U.S. Coins",
Avon Books, N.Y., 2nd edition, 1998.
Fivaz, Bill and Stanton, J.T., "The Cherrypickers Guide to Rare Die
Varieties" Atlantic Printing Company, First Edition, 1990.
Low, Lyman, "Hard Times Tokens" 2nd Edition, Reprinted by Sanford J. Durst
Numismatic Publications, New York, N.Y., 1984.
Rulau, Russell, "Standard Catalog of United States Tokens, 1700-1900" Krause
Travers, Scott A, "The Coin Collectors Survival Manual", Bonus Books, Inc,
Chicago 4th edition, 2000.
Yeoman, R.S. " A Guide Book of United States Coins", Western
Publishing Company, Racine Wisconsin, "The Red Book", 1997 edition.
Ruddy, James F, "Photograde", published by Bowers and Merena Galleries,
Woolfeboro, N.H, 17th printing, 1988.