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About to build a circulated WLH set -- which approach do you prefer?

HigashiyamaHigashiyama Posts: 2,103 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited April 8, 2023 9:12AM in U.S. Coin Forum

Having almost finished my Barber Halves, I'm about to start on a circulated Walking Liberty Half set -- destined for a Whitman or Dansco album.

I'm thinking of following one of two approaches:

--- Look for a uniform look, VG10 - F15 across all coins, or

--- Build a "continuously improving grade set", starting at around G06 and getting up to MS for the short set.

If I follow the second approach, I would have no "outliers" -- all coins would need to fall closely on the continuum.

Please give me your thoughts! Which do you prefer? Or, do you have another suggestion. Thanks.



  • CircCamCircCam Posts: 191 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Cool idea @pursuitofliberty ! Sounds like the best of both worlds while still having some rhyme and reason.

  • HigashiyamaHigashiyama Posts: 2,103 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Hi TomB - thanks for these thoughts. One thing that was fun about building the Barber set was aiming for a specific look. (For Barber halves at least, I think there’s quite a substantial evolution of look when you go from about F15 to about VF25. Few coins VF and above have a “charcoal” looks that I find attractive in lower grade coins.)

    In any case, I was thinking of following the same approach for the Walkers, but was also thinking I might combine a grade set concept with the date progression.

  • HigashiyamaHigashiyama Posts: 2,103 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @pursuitofliberty - thanks for this suggestion. I like the idea of doing the short set in ef/au rather than MS. That emphasizes a theme of the half dollar in commerce!

  • ad4400ad4400 Posts: 2,013 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I like the idea of the "continuously improving grade set", and I did a variation on that myself, with grades going up with each subsequent page of the album. The first page is in the F to lower VF range, although I still haven't taken a bite at the 21-D. The next page is VF to XF. The final page(s), 1939-1947, are all MS.

    I' m a huge fan of the WLH series. To have somethings to admire at home I did another short set in MS, but in classic "mission creep", I purchased a blank half dollar page for my dansco, and now have most of the 1934-1938 coins in MS as well. I'm thinking that one day I would move those to the full album, but time will tell, as that would still leave some big time coins to chase down in AU and MS, and I'm much less of a fan of making graded coins raw than I was earlier in the collecting. It would also create a much less even set, with a jump from the 1st page to the rest of the album.

    Best of luck on your endeavors.

  • AdamLAdamL Posts: 165 ✭✭✭

    Mine are pretty mixed up. I just bought coins I liked and tried to buy the best I could afford in most cases.
    For the most part this means the earlier dates are lower grades and the later dates are high MS.
    But there are oddballs like the 1917 which I have in ms63, making it rather shiny compared to the dates around it.

    I have the majority of the set complete both raw in an album and slabbed. I took basically the same approach with both sets. But the slabbed one has a higher budget.

  • coastaljerseyguycoastaljerseyguy Posts: 1,109 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I guess you could call my set the continuously improving grade set. From 1916 - 33S, the average grade is VG10/F, except the 21's which are G6. But I believe all are nice original coins with that dirty circulated look. Then from 34 - 47 most are MS63/64 with a sprinkling of AU's, except the 38D, which was from a PCGS F15 holder. Bot it over 10 years ago. The price has dropped recently, but when I bot it was too expensive and touted as the 'rare' WLH which it is not. All reside in my LOC album.

  • Walkerguy21DWalkerguy21D Posts: 10,869 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My personal certified set is all over the map. A couple in XF/45, like the 19 D, S, and 21S. Most of the tougher early dates are in AU, the rest 63 and 64. Everything after the 23S is in MS, up to 66 for some of the late dates.
    Many of these were acquired pre 2002, when you didn’t have almost daily internet auctions where you can pick and choose perfectly matching coins. At shows in the 1980’s, you were lucky to find any early dates above VF. It took me years, and they are what they are. And I’ve since strayed into type and large cents, so they’ll likely not change much.

    I ran into a specialist from Chicago at the FUN show. He was doing a matching set in 63/64, PCGS CAC only, needed just a couple more coins after less than two years. Wow.

    For your set, do what makes you happy. I wouldn’t want the earlier dates below VF myself. And the late dates are attractive and inexpensive in MS64/65. And the middle dates are nice and somewhat challenging in AU.
    Where you delineate can be up to you.

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  • BAJJERFANBAJJERFAN Posts: 30,920 ✭✭✭✭✭

    One thing about the circulated coins is that many of the commons are being searched and the nicer looking stuff is being set aside and sold separately and for more than bullion value. What's left is mostly dreck. Buying a $100 bag of bullion halves mat not get you much in the way of stuff that you'd want for your set.

  • erwindocerwindoc Posts: 4,768 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I completed my set several years ago in a dansco album. I looked at what it would cost and carefully budgeted across the album with the bulk of the money on the earlier portion of the set. Most of the coins are xf/au in the later portions and honestly pulled lots from junk silver bins back when silver was MUCH cheaper and readily available. The earlier portions are F/VF. I was careful to match the coins as carefully as I could. While I could have used MS/AU coins later, I went with a more even look.

    Ultimately, you should collect a set that YOU think looks good. Study the differences in the grades and make an album you are happy with.

  • Mr_SpudMr_Spud Posts: 3,977 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I’d do the circulated with a uniform look myself. I think albums look great when the coins match each other


  • ShurkeShurke Posts: 105 ✭✭✭

    I’m currently building a certified Mercury dime set. The first half (especially the keys) is too expensive for me in MS grades. So I’m putting it together like two short sets. Circulated grades for the first half with a target range of XF 45 to AU 53, uncirculated grades with a target range of MS 64-66 for the second half. I’ve already fudged the “rules” a few times, and no doubt I’ll fudge again.

    So between your two options, I gravitate towards the set with continually improving grades. Though I also like TomB’s advice to just buy great coins.

  • lkeneficlkenefic Posts: 7,476 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The Walking Liberty Half is one of my favorite coin designs. That, and Morgan Dollars. I don't collect either series any more largely due to the discontinuity you touch upon. If I was to pick the series up again and planned to house them in an album, I'd probably opt for an entire series in VF... and have a few certified high MS examples on the side... with good strikes

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

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  • Dave99BDave99B Posts: 8,239 ✭✭✭✭✭

    For albums, I prefer staying in a close range. When I see albums with coins ranging from AG to MS, the lower graded coins look bad to me, even if they're beautiful examples. But that's simply my preference. Since this is your collection, I'd go with that feels right to you. Good luck...sounds like a fun challenge!


    Always looking for original, better date VF20-VF35 Barber quarters and halves, and a quality beer.
  • breakdownbreakdown Posts: 1,923 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A circulated set will be challenging, particularly in the teens and twenties. Tough to find the original look in a lot of date - as an example, take a look at CAC pop reports for the 19-S, the 20-D or the 1921 in AU.

    It's a great design though. Good luck!

    "Look up, old boy, and see what you get." -William Bonney.

  • WalkerfanWalkerfan Posts: 8,665 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 8, 2023 4:10PM

    Building a decent quality Walker set is a long-term commitment. I have read from several sources that it takes about 10 years. It Took me over 15. Almost 30, if you count the over 10 years prior that I was reading, studying and collecting raw examples, which I later sold to help fund my certified set.

    Patience is definitely a virtue when it comes to this set. Sometimes, scarce examples simply fall into your lap, while at other times, it feels like you will never find them.

    I recommend doing the short set in choice to Gem mintstate condition. The early dates and the branch mints of the 1930s are a whole ‘Nother world!! I recommend doing them in VF to XF, if you can afford it. Sure, you can always start with VG and Fine and then upgrade later.

    Finding completely original walkers is more than just a notion…When I was collecting; I was LUCKY to find a few, but certainly not all of my coins qualify as having original NT toning. If you must add white or gently dipped coins, please consider adding only those that still have good mint luster. A good strike has always been important to me, as well, although for some issues this is not reasonably possible, in which case you must add the best you can find with at least some emerging definition.

    I don’t know your financial situation, so only you can TRULY and accurately determine your optimal grade level, but hopefully, this gives you an idea on how to strategically build your set and some good collecting tips to get you started. Good Luck 🍀 you are going to need it. 😉. Just remember-The more time and effort you put into this project, the more luck and opportunities you will create for yourself. 👍. Have fun!

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

    My Full Walker Registry Set:


  • 124Spider124Spider Posts: 644 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 8, 2023 9:07PM

    @Higashiyama said:
    Having almost finished my Barber Halves, I'm about to start on a circulated Walking Liberty Half set -- destined for a Whitman or Dansco album.

    I'm thinking of following one of two approaches:

    --- Look for a uniform look, VG10 - F15 across all coins, or

    --- Build a "continuously improving grade set", starting at around G06 and getting up to MS for the short set.

    If I follow the second approach, I would have no "outliers" -- all coins would need to fall closely on the continuum.

    Please give me your thoughts! Which do you prefer? Or, do you have another suggestion. Thanks.

    Given that the coins through 1928-S generally are pretty expensive, and almost all after 1928 are much less expensive, you might make it so each page is fairly uniform in grade. That way, you can get fairly low-grade ones (whatever you can comfortably afford) for the expensive years, and high grade for the inexpensive years.

  • coastaljerseyguycoastaljerseyguy Posts: 1,109 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great advice above. I'll echo what others have said, depending on your financial means develop a plan and do some research on the series before going full speed ahead, take your time buying & be very selective, and have fun collecting, its a hobby, at least for me. When its more, an investment or a business, that changes things slightly.

    Gathered a lot of great advice from this site but sometimes folks forget that we're all not in the same boat financially. While the advice given is optimal, buying 1 or 2 coins in that grade is more then what I could afford and my whole set is worth. Depending on such advice, you would be discouraged and never start the collection. Buy what you want and makes you happy.

    What I like about WLHs, it is a continual cost factor, not a straight line but pretty much going down, unlike Morgans where the key 92-95 years sit in the middle of the set. Not sure how the Dansco album is laid out for WLHs, but for the LOC album, the first 2 pages 16 - 29D can all have the same look. The 3rd page in the 1st book starts with a couple of more expense coins but then you get into coins that can all be MS or high AU, esp. the 2nd LOC book.

    Have fun and let us know how your set progresses.

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Higashiyama... The WLH is a great American coin... and a personal favorite. It commonly circulated when I was a kid... Though fifty cents (at that time) was a lot of money for a youngster. There are good inputs above, but the final decisions belong to you. That being said, it is also ok, and common, to change directions during the course of building sets.... There are no rules, enjoy the journey, have fun. Cheers, RickO

  • seatedlib3991seatedlib3991 Posts: 313 ✭✭✭

    The variety of grades set pretty much describes every collection I have ever formed. I just love having a progression of grades and have always built a grading set if nothing else.

  • MrEurekaMrEureka Posts: 23,730 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Another approach, which I’ve never actually seen tried, would be to build an intentionally unmatched set, with as many different colors and grades as possible. A numismatic kaleidoscope. Everything would have to be perfectly original, of course. It could be stunning, and other collectors and dealers would have fun finding you unusual coins for your set.

    Andy Lustig

    Doggedly collecting coins of the Central American Republic.

    Visit the Society of US Pattern Collectors at USPatterns.com.
  • BoloBolo Posts: 105 ✭✭✭✭

    Since you say you want to put it in an album, I'd go for a matched circulated set depending on your budget - but I think a F-VF set would look very nice in an album setting. If it wasn't going in an album I tend to favor the best grade that fits ones budget but when you are going to be looking at them all at once there is a certain appeal to having them fairly matched in appearance.

  • BuffaloIronTailBuffaloIronTail Posts: 7,336 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Balance the set by wear. I think a nice looking set could be F12 to F15 for the early stuff, then MS-63 and up for the short set.

    It'll probably look real good.


    "I tell them there's no problems.....only solutions" - John Lennon
  • Cougar1978Cougar1978 Posts: 7,205 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 9, 2023 10:21AM

    Initial stage: G-XF depending on budget. Then upgrade as go along / item comes up. Would keep in binder / Cowans pages in 2x2 holders. This allows buyer to see both sides of coins. Pages can be taken out and arranged in display case at show or coin club meeting (buy / sell). Individual 2x2 would have cost and sell code.

    For me - I prefer something fluid, easy to manage and display / store. When buy collections / estates the blue folders get the deep six (trash can) then coins per above (2x2) unless slabbed or coin tubes. Circ barbers trade well on bourse (show) or coin club (auc). At one time had a 1913 PCGS VG08 Barber 50c really liked but it sold quickly.

    Coins & Currency both US and World

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