Type sets can be great fun and are also a great way to figure out what series or type of coins you like the best and may want to create a set of in the future. I am currently working on a type set of PCGS graded coins. Fortunately, there are lots of different types of type sets to work on. If you’re a beginning collector, you may find a type set to be overwhelming, expensive, and confusing, but there are so many different ways to collect a type set that you can always make one set to your knowledge base, interests, and budget.
What Is A Type Set?
The first obvious question is what a type set is. A type set is a coin collection where the collector has one example of the different series of coins. A type set greatly differs from a traditional set, where the collector will choose a certain series and collect all of the dates, mintmarks, etc. of a certain series, such as a Morgan Silver Dollar Set, a Draped Bust Large Cent Set, or a Franklin Half Dollar Set. Of course, a complete set of a specific series is great and super fun, but some people, especially beginners, don’t know what their favorite coin series are or maybe you just don’t want to be bored by always seeing the same design coins and would like to mix it up. The reason I am working on a type set is because I like so many coins that it is difficult to pick just one to collect and also because I don’t want to collect only one thing and would rather “mix it up.” My area of greatest interest is Early American Copper. Because of that, I put more effort and money into those coins in my type set over some coins that I don't like as much. (I really like every coin I own, though).
A type set comes with its own unique challenges specific to type sets. If you want to create a full date and mintmark set of Barber Quarters, for example, you would need to learn everything you can about Barber Quarters and essentially become an expert on that series. Because type sets include all different series, a type set collector must learn even more. A type set collector won’t know as much about Barber Quarters as the Barber Quarter collector, but will know much more about Three-Cent Pieces than that Barber Quarter collector. You should always learn about the coin before you invest in the coin and that is just as true for type sets, which means you will end up learning a lot about all types of different coins, which can be very fun and exciting.
Types of Type Sets
Because of the vast extent of options for type sets, only a few main types are listed, but they can all be edited and changed to fit your needs and wants. One of the easiest type sets for beginners to start with is the 20th Century Type Set, where you collect all the major coin types from 1900-1999, which is very affordable, yet still fun. You can even choose what coins to choose. You could choose to have only one Lincoln Cent, for example, or you could choose to collect Wheat, Steel, and Memorial specimens. You can then always add to your 20th Century Type Set with an 1800 to Present Type Set. This would be more difficult and costlier, but you can readily find every coin needed to complete this set. Then, if you’re ready for a real challenge, you can choose the Complete US Type Set, including an example of every coin ever minted by the US Mint, which is challenging, costly, and, depending on the condition, can include some extreme rarities. Another easy way to figure out what Type Set to work on is to visit and browse the PCGS Set Registry. Even if you’re not planning on collecting PCGS graded examples or creating a Registry Set, this is a great way to browse, see what sets other collectors collect, and help you choose for your Type Set.
Make sure you have a checklist so you know and keep track or what coins you have and what coins you will need.
Before starting, make sure to consider your budget so you can choose a set that will make you happy and also fit your budget. You don’t want to plan for some extravagant set and find out it will cost too much money.
You do not have to do it this way, but a good way to start is to start with a certain denomination (dimes, half dollars, etc.) and expand from there.
Start with the rarer coins! Some people may be tempted to start with the cheap modern stuff, but start with the more expensive coins. You don’t have to start with the most expensive and go down from there, but the more expensive the coin, the more it generally goes up in the same amount of time. (Ex: Let’s say for your type set, you need a Draped Bust Dime. If you want to get them all professionally graded in MS-60 or higher, a Draped Bust Dime may very well cost you over $10,000. A modern Roosevelt Dime may cost you upwards of $15.00. Let’s assume that the value of each coin goes up about 10%. That Roosevelt Dime costs $16.50, an extra $1.50. The Draped Bust Dime costs you $11,000, a $1,000 price hike.)