Home U.S. Coin Forum
Options

Key Date Collecting

MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited December 21, 2022 9:07PM in U.S. Coin Forum

Although my primary focus is still my colonial type set, I have bought some "nostalgia" coins - coins that I remember dreaming about when I was a kid, including some "key dates" such as the 1909-S VDB Lincoln, the 1877 Three Cent Nickel, and the 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo Nickel. That has led me to thinking about other key dates I might want to add to my collection.

I found an old forum thread about the PCGS Key Date and Rarities Index -
(https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/433809/key-dates-and-rarities-index).

It included a link to the index - (http://web.archive.org/web/20031013135427/www.pcgs.com/prices/frame.chtml?type=coinindex&filename=keydatelist)

I don't know if that link points to the current index but it was useful to me. I copied the index and deleted all the references to the same coin in different grades. Here's the list I came up with:

DATE DENOM VARIETY
1793 1/2C Bent Cap,Bnch Leaves
1793 1C Chain
1793 1C Wreath
1856 1C Flying Eagle
1877 1C
1909-S VDB 1C
1914-D 1C
1955 1C Doubled Die Obverse
1877 3CN
1867 5C Rays
1877 5C
1885 5C
1918/7-D 5C
1937-D 5C 3 Legs
1916-D 10C
1942/1 10C
1896-S 25C
1901-S 25C
1913-S 25C
1916 25C Standing
1918/7-S 25C
1932-D 25C
1932-S 25C
1815/2 50C
1836 50C Reeded Edge
1921-S 50C
1794 S$1
1889-CC S$1
1893-S S$1
1895 S$1
1855-D G$1
1861-D G$1
1796 $2 1/2 No Stars
1808 $2 1/2
1848 $2 1/2 CAL.
1863 $2 1/2
1911-D $2 1/2
1854-D $3
1861-D $5
1909-O $5
1929 $5
1920-S $10
1930-S $10
1933 $10
1854-O $20
1861-S $20 Paquet
1870-CC $20
1883 $20
1920-S $20
1929 $20
1930-S $20
1931-D $20
1932 $20

Questions:
Do you agree with the list?
How do you define "key date"
Which of these are unobtainable to the average collector?
Any other thoughts about key date collecting?

Comments

  • Options
    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Well, the link to the index in my post above doesn't seem to work...but that's where I got my list.

  • Options
    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I see that the list does not include a key date for the two cent piece or three cent silver. I think the key date for the two cent piece is 1872.

    For the 3CS, probably 1872 also, but I like the 1851-O just to be different because it's the only 3-Cent silver piece that was minted at a branch location and not in Philadelphia where all other 3-Cent silver pieces were produced.

    Several other coin types are not included...

  • Options
    1946Hamm1946Hamm Posts: 768 ✭✭✭✭✭

    1838-O no stars half dime and dime. 1872 two cent. 1804 quarter. 1796 quarter. 1921-d & S half dollars. 1921, 1927-S and 1923-S quarters. would also be keys.

    Have a good day, Gary
  • Options
    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB said:
    Off the top of my head, I don't consider varieties as key dates. Therefore, doubled dies and overdates wouldn't be classified by me as key dates. They are popular and oftentimes valuable, but not key dates.

    Oh no...the 55 DDO Lincoln is one of my all-time favorite coins! I'm going to include it in my collection anyway! :tongue:

    Do you consider the 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo a variety or a key date?

  • Options
    NeophyteNumismatistNeophyteNumismatist Posts: 894 ✭✭✭✭✭

    These are what I consider "keys" for half cents:

    1793
    1796
    1802/0
    1811
    1836

    I am a newer collector (started April 2020), and I primarily focus on U.S. Half Cents and Type Coins. Early copper is my favorite.

  • Options
    CladiatorCladiator Posts: 17,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MidLifeCrisis said:
    Do you consider the 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo a variety or a key date?

    I know you're asking Tom but I'd put it in the variety category.

  • Options
    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Cladiator said:

    @MidLifeCrisis said:
    Do you consider the 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo a variety or a key date?

    I know you're asking Tom but I'd put it in the variety category.

    OK, OK, I guess I'll just have to build a "key dates and varieties" collection. :smile:

  • Options
    CladiatorCladiator Posts: 17,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MidLifeCrisis said:

    @Cladiator said:

    @MidLifeCrisis said:
    Do you consider the 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo a variety or a key date?

    I know you're asking Tom but I'd put it in the variety category.

    OK, OK, I guess I'll just have to build a "key dates and varieties" collection. :smile:

    Ain't nothin' wrong with that.

  • Options
    OAKSTAROAKSTAR Posts: 5,829 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB said:
    Off the top of my head, I don't consider varieties as key dates. Therefore, doubled dies and overdates wouldn't be classified by me as key dates. They are popular and oftentimes valuable, but not key dates.

    In coin collecting, a key date refers to a date (or date and mint mark combination) of a given coin series or set that is harder to obtain than other dates in the series.

    I bet @ErrorsOnCoins considers "ALL" his coins key dates! Well, at least the ones with dates anyway! 😂 😉

    Disclaimer: I'm not a dealer, trader, grader, investor or professional numismatist. I'm just a hobbyist. (To protect me but mostly you! 🤣 )

  • Options
    AdamLAdamL Posts: 165 ✭✭✭

    "1921-S 50C"
    Which Walker to include as THE key to the series depends on the condition. But mintage alone is would be the '21-D

  • Options
    OmegaraptorOmegaraptor Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting that the $10 gold skips over Liberty Heads. I would think the 1864-S $10 is worthy of a spot, but it's kind of on the line between key date and unobtainium / ultra-rarity, with only a few more known than the 1876-CC 20c.

    Then again there's only 40-50 1870-CC $20s known...

    "You can't get just one gun." "You can't get just one tattoo." "You can't get just one 1796 Draped Bust Large Cent."

  • Options
    TomBTomB Posts: 20,733 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MidLifeCrisis said:

    @TomB said:
    Off the top of my head, I don't consider varieties as key dates. Therefore, doubled dies and overdates wouldn't be classified by me as key dates. They are popular and oftentimes valuable, but not key dates.

    Oh no...the 55 DDO Lincoln is one of my all-time favorite coins! I'm going to include it in my collection anyway! :tongue:

    Do you consider the 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo a variety or a key date?

    The 1937-D 3-leg is a variety (specifically a die marriage like the 1955 doubled die and 1918/7-S) and not a key date. I just didn't notice it immediately in your list.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

    In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson

    image
  • Options
    rec78rec78 Posts: 5,691 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't think that a 1794 silver dollar is available to most collectors. I would emphasize grade also.. A lot of these are available in lower grades such as ag,g, and vg. Go for VF-XF-AU problem free coins which are always desirable and instantly liquid. The 1793 liberty cap large cent should be on your list.

    image
  • Options
    OmegaraptorOmegaraptor Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 22, 2022 12:44AM

    It is also debatable whether proof only dates should be included. Usually collectors don't mingle proofs into business strike sets. IMO I'd go with the 1885 3CN (which actually had business strikes), not the 1877, as a key. Likewise the 1881 5c.

    "You can't get just one gun." "You can't get just one tattoo." "You can't get just one 1796 Draped Bust Large Cent."

  • Options
    291fifth291fifth Posts: 23,944 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Subtract: 1937-D "Three Legs" 5 cents. A die polishing variety that has been hyped and promoted.

    All glory is fleeting.
  • Options
    DisneyFanDisneyFan Posts: 1,719 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow, that's enough information (coins) to make your head spin! Yet, no 1928 Hawaiian representing the classic commemoratives.

    I dreamed about a MS 2Oth Century key date set until I considered the cost of the three 1921 Liberty Walkers.

  • Options
    rec78rec78 Posts: 5,691 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @rhedden said:

    Seated dollar key dates (1870-s is prohibitively rare)

    1873-cc
    1851
    1852
    1871-cc
    1872-cc

    I would add 1854 and 1855 to this list.

    image
  • Options
    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That is quite a list..... Lists can be anything you want as a collector. YOU define YOUR list, which may change over time. It is a hobby. Now, if your list is for a dealer, then defining it properly is important. You may have two (or more) lists... i.e. key dates, varieties, rarities etc.. Cheers, RickO

  • Options
    BillJonesBillJones Posts: 33,485 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have a number of coins on that list, but only because they fit in with my collection. The one key date I would love to get is the 1802 half dime because it would finish my collection of early half dimes.

    When I was a dealer, I saw a lot of collectors who would buy nothing but key dates. Everything else was not on their radar. Why? Because that was the way to make money.

    That strategy feeds on itself. Prices go up because buyers are chasing these coins. They keep chasing, and the prices keep escalating. The piece that got me was the 1937-D three legged Buffalo nickel. That coin is really common. When I was dealer, finding a certified example was easy. If you bought right, it was a very quick flip. True rarity actually had little to with price.

    I like some common dates. I don’t mind them at all if it’s part of a set or collecting objective. In fact, I often like them because I don’t have to spend a fortune on them.

    In the Classic Head $2.50 and $5 gold sets 1836 is one of my favorite dates, even though it’s one of the most common. That year the United States received payments in gold for damages sustained from France. There are coins with a story which better than some rarity that’s just rare.

    Retired dealer and avid collector of U.S. type coins, 19th century presidential campaign medalets and selected medals. In recent years I have been working on a set of British coins - at least one coin from each king or queen who issued pieces that are collectible. I am also collecting at least one coin for each Roman emperor from Julius Caesar to ... ?
  • Options
    rheddenrhedden Posts: 6,619 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @rec78 said:

    @rhedden said:

    Seated dollar key dates (1870-s is prohibitively rare)

    1873-cc
    1851
    1852
    1871-cc
    1872-cc

    I would add 1854 and 1855 to this list.

    No doubt 1854 and 1855 are key dates... they just didn't make the top 5 based on price in G04. That's the trouble with Seated Liberty coins - where do they key dates end? What about the 1860-o dime? The 1849-O quarter? Is the entire Liberty Seated $1 series just key dates?

  • Options
    lermishlermish Posts: 1,951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'll be the third to chime in re Seated and Trade Dollars.

    Also, 1799 1c.

  • Options
    johnny9434johnny9434 Posts: 27,515 ✭✭✭✭✭

    the 1909 s indian head cent should be on the list as well, jmo

  • Options
    WCCWCC Posts: 2,386 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 22, 2022 9:56AM

    >

    How do you define "key date"

    I don't believe there is an absolute definition but a couple of points.

    First, some of the coins in your list are one-year types. A key date is supposed to be the hardest to get in a series, but a one-year type isn't a series. I also find key dates in short series (like the 1794 dollar) to be contradictory. It's a higher profile coin than key dates but I do not consider it one.

    Second, I don't see you doing this in your list, but the concept of key dates in an abnormally scarce series is pointless. Applied to the Capped Head half eagle, practically all are hard to buy. This also applies to my primary collecting interest.

    Third, I wouldn't consider any die variety a key date.

    @MidLifeCrisis said:

    Which of these are unobtainable to the average collector?

    Define average collector. If you are referring to the general collector population, almost all. They can't afford it. If you are referring to collectors fitting the profile of this forum, still the majority. I don't think most forum members buy coins in this price range, unless you are thinking about quality many here wouldn't want. Many of the coins in your list are more expensive than my entire collection.

    @MidLifeCrisis said:

    Any other thoughts about key date collecting?

    When I think of key date, it's primarily the coins collectors couldn't find in the 60's in the series circulating at the time. It's mostly from 1909 forward. To this, I'd add other widely collected series like Morgan dollars, IHC and the Barber coinage.

  • Options
    OAKSTAROAKSTAR Posts: 5,829 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 22, 2022 10:02AM

    So it's conclusive! The consensus is, there's no consensus. I feel better now. 🤣 😉

    Disclaimer: I'm not a dealer, trader, grader, investor or professional numismatist. I'm just a hobbyist. (To protect me but mostly you! 🤣 )

  • Options
    WCCWCC Posts: 2,386 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MidLifeCrisis said:

    For the 3CS, probably 1872 also, but I like the 1851-O just to be different because it's the only 3-Cent silver piece that was minted at a branch location and not in Philadelphia where all other 3-Cent silver pieces were produced.

    This is an example from one of my points in my last post. The 1863-1872 3CS are a lot harder to buy than any of the most widely collected 20th century key dates. The latter are included by tradition (primarily for the reason I gave I believe) but are very easy to buy now, any day of the week in volume.

    Concurrently, including almost half a series as "key" seems contradictory.

  • Options
    WCCWCC Posts: 2,386 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @OAKSTAR said:

    In coin collecting, a key date refers to a date (or date and mint mark combination) of a given coin series or set that is harder to obtain than other dates in the series.

    Yes, traditionally, but the traditional definition has been made obsolete by the internet and modern communication where hardly any of these coins are hard to find or buy. It's almost entirely about having the money.

    It's personal preference, but to me any such list is just a random assortment of coins without any actual common theme.

  • Options
    OAKSTAROAKSTAR Posts: 5,829 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @WCC said:

    @OAKSTAR said:

    In coin collecting, a key date refers to a date (or date and mint mark combination) of a given coin series or set that is harder to obtain than other dates in the series.

    Yes, traditionally, but the traditional definition has been made obsolete by the internet and modern communication where hardly any of these coins are hard to find or buy. It's almost entirely about having the money.

    It's personal preference, but to me any such list is just a random assortment of coins without any actual common theme.

    I never had a good handle it. Just to many variables.

    Disclaimer: I'm not a dealer, trader, grader, investor or professional numismatist. I'm just a hobbyist. (To protect me but mostly you! 🤣 )

  • Options
    DisneyFanDisneyFan Posts: 1,719 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @WCC said:

    When I think of key date, it's primarily the coins collectors couldn't find in the 60's in the series circulating at the time. It's mostly from 1909 forward. To this, I'd add other widely collected series like Morgan dollars, IHC and the Barber coinage.

    I agree! Back then, for me, the other coins were completely "In your dreams."

  • Options
    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Lots of good information and recommendations in this thread. Exactly what I'd hoped for. Thanks all.

  • Options
    humanssuckhumanssuck Posts: 320 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Curious as to how you came up with the 1867 with rays and 1877 shield nickels as the 'keys'. The 1880 is the key of the ms series, and the 67 with rays is only a key for the proof set, not business strikes. The 77 is a proof only issue, which would take it out of the discussion for key dates at all.

  • Options
    CoinPhysicistCoinPhysicist Posts: 597 ✭✭✭✭

    The 1796 and 1797 half dollars should be on any list of key dates.

    Successful transactions with: wondercoin, Tetromibi, PerryHall, PlatinumDuck, JohnMaben/Pegasus Coin & Jewelry, CoinFlip, and coinlieutenant.

  • Options
    lordmarcovanlordmarcovan Posts: 43,215 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited December 23, 2022 3:38AM

    I'm a Type collector, so I go for eye appeal over rarity, and thus do not have much in the way of key dates. Certainly none of the well known ones listed here.

    But when it came time for a Barber half type coin, I did opt to go for a nice original looking circulated example of one of the later-date keys instead of a more common date in say, AU or so. The 1913-14-15 Philadelphia Barber halves might be considered more semi-keys- I dunno. But they're nice low-mintage toughies. And I thought this one was wholesome, so in this one case I did go more for a key date rather than a more common coin in higher grade.

    Speaking of halves, and key dates, I bought an 1870-CC half dollar around 1981, when I was only 15. It had an AG obverse and a Fair reverse, and a yellow band of staining from old cellophane tape across the reverse. But... fifty bucks! For a real 1870-CC half! Wish I still had that now. It wouldn't meet the eye appeal standards of my current collection, but would definitely be a cool coin to own.

    Oh, yeah- here's a coin I found in a bulk bag of Wheat cents, back in 2006. Maybe my second-best cherrypick ever. There was a gob of grunge covering the mintmark when I found it. (You can still see a trace of that under Lincoln's lip.) PCGS later graded it XF40. Not bad, for a 3-5-cent investment plus grading fees, eh?


    Explore collections of lordmarcovan on CollecOnline, management, safe-keeping, sharing and valuation solution for art piece and collectibles.
  • Options
    CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,604 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Collect what you like MLC, but for me I dislike feeling obligated to buy a coin just to satisfy some list or registry requirement. I won’t do it.

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
  • Options
    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Catbert said:
    Collect what you like MLC, but for me I dislike feeling obligated to buy a coin just to satisfy some list or registry requirement. I won’t do it.

    Of course. I don't feel obligated to collect anything on the list and I'm not doing this for the registry. I'm doing it because it's fun to go after coins I dreamed about when I was a kid. I really enjoy owning them. Plus, there are so many coins out there...this helps narrow and define my searches.

  • Options
    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @humanssuck said:
    Curious as to how you came up with the 1867 with rays and 1877 shield nickels as the 'keys'.

    I didn't come up with it...PCGS did in their PCGS Key Date and Rarities Index.

  • Options
    CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,604 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MidLifeCrisis said:

    @humanssuck said:
    Curious as to how you came up with the 1867 with rays and 1877 shield nickels as the 'keys'.

    I didn't come up with it...PCGS did in their PCGS Key Date and Rarities Index.

    Good to know and I'm glad you are collecting what is meaningful to you! <3

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
  • Options
    JimnightJimnight Posts: 10,820 ✭✭✭✭✭

    In my world all my coins are key dates.

  • Options
    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,223 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MidLifeCrisis said:

    @humanssuck said:
    Curious as to how you came up with the 1867 with rays and 1877 shield nickels as the 'keys'.

    I didn't come up with it...PCGS did in their PCGS Key Date and Rarities Index.

    On my work computer I have the Index makeup.

    If I remember it was expansive and would be a challenge to collect.

    Not saying buy blindly.

    Like it or not, the key date Index has been one of the best places to put money in this hobby.

    BST: KindaNewish (3/21/21), WQuarterFreddie (3/30/21), Meltdown (4/6/21), DBSTrader2 (5/5/21) AKA- unclemonkey on Blow Out

  • Options
    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,223 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Somebody post the index and maybe start another thread.

    My bout with Covid is nearly over but I am whooped

    BST: KindaNewish (3/21/21), WQuarterFreddie (3/30/21), Meltdown (4/6/21), DBSTrader2 (5/5/21) AKA- unclemonkey on Blow Out

  • Options
    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @yspsales - I'm using the index as a guide...along with the recommendations in this thread. Hope you feel better soon!

  • Options
    yspsalesyspsales Posts: 2,223 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MidLifeCrisis said:
    @yspsales - I'm using the index as a guide...along with the recommendations in this thread. Hope you feel better soon!

    I just saw the link… thanks.

    It took me almost 20 years to come fully around to the key date way of thinking.

    I will cherry pick commons for grade, strike, etc… but key dates provide a solid foundation.

    BST: KindaNewish (3/21/21), WQuarterFreddie (3/30/21), Meltdown (4/6/21), DBSTrader2 (5/5/21) AKA- unclemonkey on Blow Out

  • Options
    OverdateOverdate Posts: 6,939 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I consider this a key date because it's on my key chain. :p

    (Yes, it's an 1879-CC.)

    My Adolph A. Weinman signature :)

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Emoji
Image
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file