A “Dream Collection” of U.S. Coins, Part II

Twenty years ago, in September 1995, I wrote a feature article for Issue #30 of our company newspaper, The Coin Collector. At the time I was challenged by a reader to build a “Dream Collection” of U.S. coins, keeping the cost under $5,000. Beginning with last week’s blog, I am reprinting this article and updating the prices to 2015, to see how much it would cost (according to the 2016 Guide Book) to build this dream collection today. Last week I focused on copper coins. This week it will be nickel, silver and clad coins.

Nickel Coins

Nickel three-cent piece: 1865 MS-60 ($80) [2016 Guide Book: $120]: First year of issue of this short-lived denomination.

Shield nickel: 1866 MS-60 ($210) [2016 Guide Book: $300]: First year of issue of the nickel five-cent piece.

Liberty Head nickel: 1883 Without CENTS. MS-60 ($30) [2016 Guide Book: $35]: The Mint made a design mistake and a wild scramble ensued as the public sought these “rare” nickels.

Liberty Head nickel: 1912 MS-60 ($75) [2016 Guide Book: $85]: Evocative of the early nickelodeon movie theatre that charged 5¢ admission. I’ve always liked Liberty Head nickels.

Buffalo nickel: 1913 Type I. MS-63 ($40) [2016 Guide Book: $60]: First of the Buffalo herd.

Buffalo nickel: 1938-D/S Overmintmark. MS-63 ($40) [2016 Guide Book: $80]: Interesting as a die variety and also because I played an important part in its original verification and publicity when it was first discovered in 1961.

Jefferson nickel: 1938 MS-65 ($4) [2016 Guide Book: $16]: Struck in my birth year and in the state where I was born. First of the Jefferson nickels.

Jefferson nickel: 1943-S MS-65 ($6) [2016 Guide Book: $20]: Wartime silver content issue and a chance to add a coin from the San Francisco Mint to the collection.

Jefferson nickel: 1950-D MS-65 ($8) [2016 Guide Book: $20]: Without doubt the most famous single coin variety in the numismatic market from 1950 until something happened in 1964; a numismatic legend.

Total nickel coin cost: $493 [2016 Guide Book: $736].


Silver and Clad Coins

Silver 3¢: 1851-O EF-40 ($115) [2016 Guide Book: $175]: An easy winner, first year of issue of this tiny denomination and the only issue struck at a branch mint.

Half dime: 1837 Liberty Seated, No Stars. EF-40 ($190) [2016 Guide Book: $235]: Another easy choice. As our $5,000 budget would be consumed virtually in its entirety if we were to buy an 1836 Gobrecht silver dollar, this little 1837 half dime has the same obverse design and is a heck of a lot cheaper! Besides, its one of our favorite motifs.

Barber dime: 1892 MS-60 ($110) [2016 Guide Book: $135]: First year of issue of one of our favorite series, although in its era virtually nobody liked the design.

Mercury dime: 1945 MS-65 ($20) [2016 Guide Book: $28]: A beautiful design, and in this grade a “lot of coin for a little money,” although the issue is hardly rare.

Roosevelt dime: 1946 MS-65 ($2) [2016 Guide Book: $12]: First year of issue of this still going on series. Features quite possibly the greatest American president since Washington (and here I am a Republican saying this).

Twenty-cent piece: 1875-S EF-40 ($160) [2016 Guide Book: $250]: Can’t forget this illogical, short-lived and historical denomination.

Standing Liberty quarter dollar: 1917 Type I. MS-63 ($300) [2016 Guide Book: $350]: A budget-threatening coin, but certainly one of the most beautiful American motifs ever. No collection should be without one.

Bicentennial quarter dollar: 1776-1976-S Proof-65 ($1.25) [2016 Guide Book: $8]: We get an image of the Father of our Country plus a bicentennial souvenir in one coin.

Capped Bust half dollar: 1832 Lettered edge. AU-50 ($250) [2016 Guide Book: $375]: A relic from an era in which the Capped Bust half dollar was the largest currently minted coin of the realm. Just about any date will do; 1832 is just picked at random.

Liberty Walking half dollar: 1947 MS-63 ($45) [2016 Guide Book: $60]: Last year of the beautiful Liberty Walking half dollar design first minted in 1916.

Franklin half dollar: 1948 MS-63 ($22) [2016 Guide Book: $27]: Not a beautiful coin, but I can remember when I saw my first one of this new design and saved it (for a very short time). Now, scarcely a day goes by in our business in which we don’t send out a bunch of these to enthusiastic collectors.

Kennedy half dollar: 1964 MS-65 ($3.25) [2016 Guide Book: $20]: A coin with a story everyone knows.

Bicentennial half dollar: 1776-1976-S Proof-65 ($1.50) [2016 Guide Book: $12]: Bicentennial time.

Morgan silver dollar: 1903-O MS-63 ($175) [2016 Guide Book: $450]: A coin that changed numismatic history, a legend right up there with the 1950-D nickel. Amazing when it happened back in 1962.

Peace silver dollar: 1921 MS-63 ($225) [2016 Guide Book: $450]: A favorite design, the only year readily available with the High Relief format, and the only Peace dollar never a part of a hoard. First year of issue, too.

Eisenhower clad dollar: 1971-D MS-63 ($2) [2016 Guide Book: $6]: First of the Ike dollars made by my good friend Frank Gasparro, former chief engraver at the Mint.

Bicentennial clad dollar: 1776-1976-S Proof-65 ($6) [2016 Guide Book: $19]: Bicentennial time again.

Susan B. Anthony clad dollar: 1981-D MS-63 ($3.50) [2016 Guide Book: $7]: Also by Frank Gasparro. Besides, where else in numismatics can you buy a Mint State, high-denomination coin of which just 3,250,000 were made (low for a modern coin) for only $3.50.

Total silver and clad coin cost: $1,631.50 [2016 Guide Book: $2,619].


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