Skip to main content

How long since you last took a look?

How many incomplete sets of coins do you own? In my time in the hobby I have owned plenty. Some I still have. Some I sold off at points in my life when I needed money.

It makes me wonder sometimes if I always have been beginning sets and never finishing them.

The first two sets that I began to assemble were of Lincoln cents, 1909 to 1940, and the 1941-to-date album. Since this project was begun in 1963, the second album was not a hugely challenging effort to fill from circulation though the three steel cents from 1943 and the 1955-S were a bit of a struggle to find.

The earlier album I never finished. It required a 1909-S VDB, the dream coin of every beginning collector of the period. So the album sits unfinished and unexamined now a half century later.

What’s my excuse? First as a kid, I was not likely to find the key dates in change. I was even less likely to get sufficient funds to make purchases of them either, though I did add the 1931-S in a very nice BU paid for with money received on my birthday in 1969.

What would it grade today? I don’t know. I sold it when the bills of adulthood began rolling in. I am curious. It was a beautiful coin. The dealer I sold it to didn’t run it down in my presence and I got a price I thought was fair. It must have been nice, but I will always wonder.


Lincolns and Franklins are not the only sets I've left unfinished.

Staffer Connor Falk wrote a story this week about Franklin half dollars. That is another set that I began but never finished.

The coins were appealing because they were made of 90 percent silver. The set was a short one. The Kennedy half dollar’s introduction capped its duration at just 16 years.

I even began buying some of the coins in BU as I saved up money from my paper route. This mostly was to upgrade as most of the dates were fairly easy to find in bank rolls even as silver was disappearing.

What I cannot remember at this point many years later is whether I still needed one of the 1948 coins and one from 1949, or two from 1949. Mintages were fairly low in both years. The set also moved out of my hands as life’s monetary demands tugged on my sleeve.

The circulated coins went basically for silver value. Since they were easily found, I was not particularly disappointed when I had to part with them. The BU coins I kept. I remember being particularly pleased with the 1955. That might be smart, but since I haven’t examined them closely since the 1970s, who knows? Perhaps now is the time to remedy this. Connor’s article has brought the existence of these coins back to mind. That, of course, is the point of such an article.

Lincolns and Franklins are not the only sets I began but left unfinished. Space limitations mean that I will have to revisit this topic another time.

What sets did you begin, put away and dispose of or forget about? Could any of them beckon now? With the 2016 centennial of the Walking Liberty half, Standing Liberty quarter and Mercury dime, we will all have to check what we have.

This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
>> Subscribe today or get your >> Digital Subscription