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MS-68 pioneers

More and more collectors are drawn to assembling sets of coins in grades that were of impossibly high quality when I was starting out many years ago.

Putting together a set of say, Washington quarters 1999 to date, in MS-67, MS-68 or even MS-70 is now something that can be done with the modern issues.

The question for those who succeed in finishing such a set is how coming generations will react to them.

Are collectors of top grade coins the pioneers showing a new way to collect and the approaches taken by my generation are simply going away?

I cannot know the answer for sure.

However, what I do know is that to collect sets in those top grades requires the use of grading services to attest to the high quality of the coins.

Even if I had a perfect eye and I assembled a set of Washington quarters in a uniformly MS-68 condition I could not simply put them in an album and proclaim to the world the existence of my MS-68 set.

I need professional witnesses.

That is not a bad thing, but it is a different reality for many of us who assembled sets from change.

What happens to my good 1932-D Washington quarter 10 or 20 years down the road?

Will anyone appreciate the sense of triumph I experienced when I bought it along with the 1932-S in the same low grade?

Since I have the 1932 Philadelphia in a beautiful state of uncirculated, I can see how the well worn pieces are overshadowed.

Will my uncirculated 1932 make MS-68?

I will have to check it out one day by submitting it to a grading service.

I have owned it since before the 70-point grading scale was applied to U.S. coins generally.

Collecting coins in MS-68 condition is a privilege, but it is not the same thing as picking out a coin from a pile of change on the table.

Times are different now.

The MS-68 collectors are indeed the new pioneers.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper is winner of the 2014 Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper "Numismatic News."