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Viewpoint: Need more info on commems, sets

By Doug Jennings

I usually think I’m going to remember to answer the questions you throw out in Numismatic News for people’s opinions, but I don’t. However, I do want to throw a question of my own.

I know a lot of the numismatic purists consider the collecting of modern commemoratives, silver American Eagles, gold American Eagles or anything else that isn’t a gazillion years old to be sacrilege to being a “coin collector” a.k.a. a numismatist. I must admit I have mixed feelings about that bias.

I’ve always thought the whole idea of our hobby was to collect what you enjoy. I feel my own diversity in collecting exemplifies that – U.S. series, Canadian, world (mainly German coin patterns by Schaaf number), tokens, So-Called dollars, Monroe, Mich., medals and tokens, etc., but again I digress.

When the U.S. Mint decided to join the “Golden Age” of issuing gold to the masses via the American Arts Gold Medallion series, I was standing in line to complete my first set, later a second set, much later a third set, and 30-plus years later a fourth set. I’ve also become enamored with the silver and gold American Eagles and the specific commemorative sets that have been produced by the Mint.

However, what I find disheartening is the lack of information that the NN, Coin Dealers Newsletter, Coin Prices, and even the “bible” of coin collecting a.k.a. the “Red Book” do not contain. NN does at least acknowledge that the American Arts Gold Medallions exist and lists a price for them, but the CDN and the Red Book act like they don’t exist, yet we can list colonial tokens, Philippines, or other off-the-wall areas that are somewhat of a niche collecting area. Coin Prices doesn’t mention the American Arts gold medallions either.

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Another series that I don’t believe gets its due is the silver American Eagles. There are a number of anniversary sets that have been minted that are just a listing in the CDN and sometimes in the Red Book. One in particular is the Philadelphia Mint Bicentennial silver and gold proof set with the mint medal comprising a five-piece set. If the Red Book hadn’t put a brief blurb in describing it, I never would have known why the CDN lists it.

Same for the two-piece set, three-piece set and other anniversary sets. Coin Prices completely ignores most of these sets for pricing and/or what comprised these sets. The Red Book I think should list the mintages of those sets so old and new collectors to the hobby can make a choice on whether to pursue those sets to add to their collections.

What do you think? Why doesn’t any of those publications print that material, especially the mintages or number of sets known to have been produced? How many of the Philadelphia Mint Bicentennial sets were made? How many of the American Revolution mint medals in the set were produced? Is it .900 fine or .999? Is it the weight of a silver dollar or an American Eagle?

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We all know that the number 100,000 is the number of 2011 American Eagle five-piece sets produced. Why not the other sets?

Just some ramblings from an old timer, and maybe a little fodder for the sharper tacks in the box to write about in future articles.

This was written by Doug Jennings who is from Petersburg, Mich. Viewpoint is a forum for the expression of opinion on a variety of numismatic subjects. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Numismatic News. To have your opinion considered for Viewpoint, write to David C. Harper, Editor, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Send email to david.harper@fwmedia.com.

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