There are many strategies when it comes to collecting coins. One that is popular among collectors is collecting by type.
Collecting by type involves collecting one coin from each design issued.
Types can be broken down into a basic design or to include each change of a design. For example, we struck dimes with the basic seated liberty design from 1838 until 1891. One can collect just a single coin for a type set, or collect one each from the following slight variations.
One is no stars on the obverse, no drapery hung over the thigh, stars added to the obverse, arrows at the side of the date (1853-1855), the legend “United States of America” added to the obverse, or arrows at date with the obverse legend (1873-74). By collecting from basic to inclusive, one can collect to fit any budget.
Collectors can narrow types to 20th, 19th or 18th century issues. Earlier coins are the toughest to collect, as our designs often did not last long and some coins were struck in limited quantities. For example, a 1796 quarter, which is a one-year type, will start off in good condition at about $10,000, and a half-dollar from 1796-97 will set one back in excess of $30,000.
Collecting type by mint mark is another option. You can collect one of each type of coin that a particular mint struck, or a series that had multiple mints striking the same design. In the $5 liberty gold coin series, one can collect a coin from “C” (Charlotte, N.C.), “D” (Dahlonega, Ga.), “O” (New Orleans), “S” (San Francisco), “CC” (Carson City — our favorite) and “D” (Denver).
Note that Dahlonega and Denver had the same mint mark, but Dahlonega only struck coins from 1838-61 and Denver did not start striking coins until 1906; thus, in no years did this mint mark clash between mints. Six mints struck this series, giving a collector a light challenge for a modest budget.
Collecting by date involves obtaining numerous coins that look the same but have different dates and/or mint marks, but collecting by type gives one just an example of each design. This is why many chase a type set. Some buy the most common year’s coin in a series and others try to buy the rarest. Either way, the collection you build in a type set has a host of different looks, as it chronicles the changes our nation has made to coinage over the years. So, if you are looking at starting to collect or defining a collection strategy, consider building a type set.
Allen Rowe is the owner of Northern Nevada Coin in Carson City.