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  • Writer's pictureDouglas Keefe

What is a Type Set of Coins?

ince the United States began mining coins in the late 1700’s, there have been literally hundreds of different designs of the denomination struck for use in commerce. Many collectors try to assemble a complete set of all the coins in a series, an example being the Peace dollars and Morgan dollars I wrote about in my last 2 articles. However, showing one of these collections to a non-coin collector, would typically invoke a response of “but they all look the same”, this non-collector failing to appreciate the different mints involved as well as the history which had an impact on the number of coins struck in different years, affecting their value. A type collection is different because it requires only 1 of each type coin of a given design for the collection, and for example, would include only one each of the Peace and Morgan dollar. Type collections are very interesting, even to non-collectors who probably didn’t realize the variety of different designs used for our coins over the years. There are various type collections that can be assembled, and as with all aspects of coin collecting, it is the collector that decides what is best for him or her. I’ll give examples of some of the more popular type sets and then of a few others that require a little more effort and expense.

The first and easiest to complete is the Twentieth Century type collection, an example of all different coins minted from 1900 to 1999. Here’s what would be included.

One cent coins: an Indian head cent (1900-1909); Lincoln cent (1909-1999), 1 copper with wheat stalk reverse (1909-1958), 1 steel (1943), 1 copper with Lincoln Memorial Building on reverse (1959-1999). 1909 had 2 varieties, one with the designers initials (V.D.B.) on the reverse, and only partially that year, and the others from then on, without. That variety is not usually included in the set.

Five cent coins: Liberty head (1900-1912); Indian head/ Buffalo reverse (1913-1938); Jefferson nickel (1938-1999), 1 silver substitute with large mintmarks on reverse (1942-1945). As with the Lincoln cents, there are 2 varieties of the 1913 Buffalo nickel, one with the Buffalo on raised ground, the other on flat ground. Again this variety is not usually included.

Ten cent coins: Barber dime (Barber is designers’ name) (1900-1916); Mercury dime (1916-1945); Roosevelt dime (1946-1999), silver (1946-1964), copper-nickel clad (1965-1999).

Quarter dollar coins: Barber quarter (1900-1916); Standing Liberty, bare breast variety (1916-1917)l covered breast (1917-1930); Washington quarter (1932-1999), silver (1932-1964), copper-nickel clad (1965-1998), 1976 Bi-Centennial w/ drummer boy reverse, both silver and copper-nickel. 1999 began the State Quarter series, so actually the first 5 state quarters with the different reverses should be included, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia and Connecticut.

Half dollar coins: Barber half dollar (1900-1916); Walking Liberty half dollar (1916-1947); Ben Franklin half dollar (1948-1963); J.F. Kennedy half dollar (1964-1999), 90% silver (1964), 40% silver (1965-1970), copper-nickel clad (1971-1999), 1976 Bi-Centennial with Independence Hall reverse, both silver and copper-nickel.

Dollar coins: Morgan dollar (again, the designers name)(1900-1904, 1921); Peace dollar (1921-1928, 1934, 1935); Eisenhower dollar (1971-1978), copper-nickel clad (1971-1978), 40% silver (1971-1974), 1976 Bi-Centennial with eagle and globe reverse, both silver and copper-nickel clad. Susan B. Anthony dollar (1979-1981, 1999). The 1921 Peace dollar is considered a different type because it was struck in high relief, the only year that occurred, but the coin is not always included in a type set.

The Twentieth Century type set is probably the easiest and least expensive to complete, with only the 1916-1917 type 1 Standing Liberty quarter being the more difficult, yet not an overly expensive coin to obtain.

Type sets only include coins that are “business strikes”, that is coins that would normally be released into circulation, although some coins in this type set were not released into circulation and are only available in government mint sets.

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