Type coins, what they are, they and why they matter.

Getting into Collecting

So we have touched on all the types of coins there are out there, with a focus on the US coins. As you might imagine, if you get into world and ancients there is a mind numbing amount of material to cover. Most US collectors focus on US coins. We have a lot of it, and we love it. Those that like non US coins due to:

  1. Challenge themselves
  2. Some personal drive to be outside the norm
  3. Work obligations
    • Graders at the agencies as a rule cannot actively collect US coins
    • The editor of the Red Book felt it was best to not play in the US coin world if he was writing “the book” on them. Ken is just awesome like that!

So when I talk I am generally referring to US Coins. So back to my initial proposition, there are too many coins. Since it is virtually impossible and prohibitively expensive to collect every Unites States coin made since 1793 from every year and mint, most collectors are happy just to have an example of each variety made.


So as a work around most collectors focus on a “Type” of coin. They define the types by the denomination, engraver, country, topic, year, or other idea that you may come up with.  However even after you chose a type, how each collectors defines the type is unique. Type sets can come in all shapes and sizes, excuse the pun!

There are only four different kinds of Nickle varieties from 1866 to date. One would just have to have an example of each one to have a complete basic type set of that denomination.  The US dime has between 12-14 distant designs, depending on who you ask. In addition, some collectors want to have a coin from each mint that coined a variety as part of that type set. To include gold and silver, before 1880 or not, proof or not (if available) are all decision he collector must make.

Even this kind of collecting can cost a lot of money. Some people decide to specialize in a single series to concentrate their resources and expertise. Now there have been some spectacular type sets that have sold at auction over the years, and the Haig Koshkarian Type Set Collection sold by Stacks on 2004 is a perfect example of this.

Good Ideas

So you think you want to focus on a type, what to choose. Well first off look at how much you want to spend and how big you think you want your collection to be. Focusing on pennies, overall, will cost you less than if you focus on $20 coins (never mind the metal content).

Three good rules of thumb are

  1. Low Price
    • Lost people want to look for maximum quality at the lowest price
  2. Quality
    • Most type coins are pretty common
  3. Availability
    • Max quality at lowest price
    • Look for sets that have a high mintage

Cents: Indian & Lincoln

Nickles: Liberty, Buffalo, Jefferson

Dimes: Mercury & Roosevelt (let me tell you a story sometime about me and Merc dimes, there are my kryptonite)

Quarters: Barber,Standing Liberty, Washington

Half: Barber, Walking Liberty, Franklin

Dollars: Morgan & Peace (this is where a lot of collectors are)

However like lots of life, the choice is up to you. But choose wisely!