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Annual Debate - Sets vs Box of 20

PedzolaPedzola Posts: 1,009 ✭✭✭✭✭

Hello friends.

I am soliciting some crowdsourced collecting advice today.

As many of you know I focus on gold type, and as I've posted recently I'm working on a $5 indian date set.

2022 was a big year. I added a bunch of fantastic coins to the type set and basically started from scratch on the $5 Indians. I did a lot of trading to get there on the bigger coins.

I am going to continue working on the $5 Indian date set. I really love what I've put together so far, and it's a real treasure hunt to find the perfect pieces for the few remaining slots.

For the type set I am debating what direction I want to take from here. I have some really nice coins, and a few more types within reach.

Option 1) Continue to occasionally add or upgrade opportunistically. [my current plan!]

Option 2) Sell all of the more common / easily replaceable coins and consolidate to only really super special pieces. A high grade 1927 saint or 1904 $20 is not hard to find. I could put the $$ aside instead for tougher coins - focus on those truly rare or special. This would be basically abandoning the full type set in favor of more of a box-of-20 approach.

It turns out my type set is only 20 coins anyway, but in this approach I'd trim about half of them.

What do you think? I am inclined to stay the course, but interested in others' opinions!


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    DeplorableDanDeplorableDan Posts: 2,539 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’ve pivoted several times already in the past year as far as my collecting goals. Originally, I wanted to complete a 12 pc gold type set followed by a complete gold type set, but that method of collecting is going to be cost prohibitive and prevent me from stretching on the coins that I really like.

    I prefer the “box of 20” approach. I’d rather just dig deep when I see a special coin that really speaks to me, I prefer to be sure to at I love the coin rather than fill the hole and upgrade later. Also, I just don’t really get excited for every issue of US gold, so in the end I may not even complete any sets at all. I don’t participate on the registries and I collect only for my personal satisfaction. I also would think that the diversity of type collecting leaves less exposure if a segment of the market took a deep dive, but I haven’t been around long so who knows.

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    divecchiadivecchia Posts: 6,528 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 11, 2023 9:56AM

    You have a beautiful gold type set going and I would be proud to own any of the pieces in it. They are all beauties.

    To answer your question, I would continue the gold type set and get as many different gold type pieces as you can find or afford. That is what I would do. My reasoning is you have such a great start with what you have so far. A box of 20 is more restrictive, but I can see doing that and just picking up the more difficult to find pieces and eliminating the common pieces that you mentioned. Either way I'm sure you will have a terrific set.


    Edited for grammar.

    Hobbyist & Collector (not an investor).
    Donato's Complete US Type Set ---- Donato's Dansco 7070 Modified Type Set ---- Donato's Basic U.S. Coin Design Set

    Successful transactions: Shrub68 (Jim), MWallace (Mike)
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    lilolmelilolme Posts: 2,462 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have collected what interest me. Some raw, slab set of a series, kept the cc set, various miscellaneous that I liked and now working on a mini-set. So collect what interest you the most.

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=2YNufnS_kf4 - Mama I'm coming home ...................................................................................................................................................................... RLJ 1958 - 2023

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    skier07skier07 Posts: 3,690 ✭✭✭✭✭

    There’s no right or wrong approach and do whatever you think makes the most sense for you. It would be nice if we had unlimited funds. I sold a fair number of older gold coins in 2022. I kept my core gold collection intact and sold coins that could mostly be replaced in the future if I so desired. I’m now working on a new set that is non gold that I’m having a lot of fun with.

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    MidLifeCrisisMidLifeCrisis Posts: 10,519 ✭✭✭✭✭

    You have some very nice coins!

    The "Box of 20" is a name given to a philosophy. People get turned off by it because of the number. I think the philosophy is sound though.

    If I were you, I'd do option 2. If you reach for the tough coins first, you may either 1) realize that you are happy to own just the truly rare and special coins and decide not to bother with the common coins, or 2) have more fun collecting the common ones after you've acquired the tough ones since "the pressure's off", so to speak.

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    lermishlermish Posts: 1,940 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Some of it has to do with "know thyself". Do you take pleasure in having a goal to work towards, whether completing or upgrading a set? Or is it only enjoying each individual coin as much as possible? I think the answer to that will drive your answer.

    There is no right answer though and the answer can certainly change over time! I finished one major set and almost immediately my goals changed (or I became disenchanted or bored or ??) and sold 90% of the set with the remaining coins going in my "Misc Box". I'm one coin away from finishing my next major set and I'm fairly confident I'll keep this one to enjoy and periodically upgrade but I can't say for sure.

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    scubafuelscubafuel Posts: 1,734 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @BryceM is on to something, as usual. Don’t underestimate the ability of a beautiful 1904 $20 to “set off” the rarer coins in your set. The whole can be more than the parts.

    A strategy that works for me is to bump any coin that I’ve passed over a few times while looking at my set, rather than bumping a coin just because it’s common in the marketplace.

    If it isn’t worth looking at anymore, then it gets the boot, regardless of rarity.

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    PedzolaPedzola Posts: 1,009 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks all for the thoughtful comments and input. Of course I understand I need to make the decision for myself. I value different perspectives to help reason through it.

    I am having a lot of fun with coin collecting. For sure I am sticking with gold. A couple of minor diversions away have been downers.

    I think what's driving consideration of other paths is partly the dollars. I like to think my collection will hopefully appreciate over time, but more immediately I don't have unlimited funds. So the very basic question is more cheaper coins or fewer more expensive coins?

    I enjoy the diversity of type collecting, and have been appreciating more lately the types that previously didn't interest me much. I admit I still have a hard time loving the $3, dunno why!

    But I am very much drawn to the highest grade I can afford. I like the idea of a coin that looks like I could have gotten "new" from a bank when it was in circulation.

    So will always have that trade-off of having +1 different coin vs +1 higher grade level!

    I could sell all of it and get a pretty nice $5 small eagle? :p

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    marcmoishmarcmoish Posts: 6,221 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice accomplishment so far, and it says a lot that they are all beaned, very impressed.

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    WalkerfanWalkerfan Posts: 8,974 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Start with a box of 20…. if you finish that, then you can branch out.

    “I may not believe in myself but I believe in what I’m doing” ~Jimmy Page~

    My Full Walker Registry Set (1916-1947)


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    WCCWCC Posts: 2,374 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't buy a coin with the intent of upgrading. I own duplicates where I upgraded later but that's because these coins are difficult to buy. Upgrading usually results in "slippage".

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    VicPortlandVicPortland Posts: 283 ✭✭✭

    As others have noted, your coins look great! If it were me, I’d sell the common date coins and use the funds to buy something less common. I like your comment about $3 gold coins. I feel that way about $5 Liberty (I think Liberty has a goofy face on that denomination). Just based on a 5 foot view, your 1907 SG High Relief looks spectacular!

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    DeplorableDanDeplorableDan Posts: 2,539 ✭✭✭✭✭

    On a side note, I absolutely love the collection you’ve put together so far. We have very similar taste in coins, down to the grade and all. I’m looking for several of the coins in your photo in the exact same grades. I can’t justify the cost of an hr saint in 63 now, but when I find the right 58 I’ll pull the trigger

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    braddickbraddick Posts: 23,115 ✭✭✭✭✭


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    coinbufcoinbuf Posts: 10,768 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm a set builder, always have been, I like having a goal and the feeling of accomplishment when that goal is achieved. I get the box of 20 works for some, but the odd thing is so many collectors claim to be OCD. To me a box of 20 is total chaos, no order of any type, yet I have seen several members over the years that claim they have to have a certain type or brand of plastic (because of OCD), yet are completely fine with the box of 20. Doesn't make much sense to me, a set has order and definitiveness, things that should appeal to those with true OCD. Also I would be bored with only 20 coins, there is a point where it is too much, but for me 20 is too little.

    Doesn't matter to me what other collectors do, that is their choice, after all collecting is a personal choice, collect what you like how you like.

    My Lincoln Registry
    My Collection of Old Holders

    Never a slave to one plastic brand will I ever be.
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    WCCWCC Posts: 2,374 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @VicPortland said:
    If it were me, I’d sell the common date coins and use the funds to buy something less common. I like your comment about $3 gold coins. I feel that way about $5 Liberty (I think Liberty has a goofy face on that denomination). Just based on a 5 foot view, your 1907 SG High Relief looks spectacular!

    I have similar sentiments.

    If I were building this set, I'd ignore minor sub-types and buy slightly lower quality coins. I see several candidates in the OP set where I'd do that.

    I'd use the proceeds to buy the Capped Head half and quarter eagles.

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    pcgscacgoldpcgscacgold Posts: 2,638 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Amazing collection. Many of the grades you have I dream about owning. I used to collect sets, and now focus on my gold type set. Recently added a 64CAC $3 and 66CAC $5 Liberty. High grade Liberty’s are amazing coins.

    I hate $1 gold. Too small. I’m still missing the type 2 but don’t like the denomination.

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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I stopped doing sets years ago. Now I just acquire coins that appeal to me - could be design, condition, rarity.... Not restricted to any regimen. I like it this way, seems more fun and less driven. Cheers, RickO

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    CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,603 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wonderful collection!

    I have sold coins easily replaced to raise funds for coinage that has more scarcity and/or that gives me greater satisfaction. I generally avoid collecting by date if the coin has no other attractive attribute. So for me, consolidation leading to better quality is more satisfying.

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
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    lkeneficlkenefic Posts: 7,829 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm using my Box of 20 to augment my 7070 Type Set. I like the 7070 album but I think there are gaps in 18thC Type coins and I don't have the gold page. Since these are all coins I'd not consider cracking out of a holder, and I'm only buying them holdered/authenticated, the box is also convenient.

    Best of luck in whatever you decide.

    Collecting: Dansco 7070; Middle Date Large Cents (VF-AU); Box of 20;

    Successful BST transactions with: SilverEagles92; Ahrensdad; Smitty; GregHansen; Lablade; Mercury10c; copperflopper; whatsup; KISHU1; scrapman1077, crispy, canadanz, smallchange, robkool, Mission16, ranshdow, ibzman350, Fallguy, Collectorcoins, SurfinxHI, jwitten, Walkerguy21D, dsessom.
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    mirabelamirabela Posts: 4,967 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great group! You and I don't really play in the same end of the pool (or even the same pool?) and I have no advice, but thanks for sharing this great project as it stands right now. Interesting about the $3 -- mine is one of my favorite coins, maybe in part because it was one of my first steps outside the "basic" type set. Not exactly esoteric, but for me it meant I was levelling up. You're clearly a bunch of levels further along -- your early pieces are great! I also especially admire your $10 Indians.

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    PedzolaPedzola Posts: 1,009 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 14, 2023 7:46AM

    Thanks all again for some great ideas and insights. I think regardless of your series or the price level that you're collecting at you have the same type of choice to debate - to go for completeness vs fewer more special coins.

    "Collect what you enjoy" is always an interesting response to me, because I think I'm still figuring out what I like! I like to have a full set and I like extra special coins. It's funny I was looking at an auction yesterday and ready to pull the trigger on a coin that would have required me to sell a couple of others to afford it, then changed my mind.

    I think the path forward is going to be dictated by the opportunities that come up! There are definitely coins that I would sell a bunch of others for. But they don't come up very often.

    So at the end of the day - we'll see!

    Check me out on instagram (hypnogold) - I've been having fun taking a video of one coin from my collection each saturday, and adding music and cats to it. :p

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    olympicsosolympicsos Posts: 697 ✭✭✭✭

    It's not necessarily that you only have to have 20 coins in a box of 20, but in some series like with gold, the box of 20 concept is a good concept because no one except for @EliteCollection will likely ever achieve a complete collection of Saints. Also in some series, some coins are better than others. Complete sets work best for lower end coins IMO.

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