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How to Collect Commemoratives, A New Idea

My recent commentary on commemoratives with very low mintages (Arkansas, Boone, Oregon Trail, and others of the late 1930s) selling for very low prices attracted some comments, including this from Gerald H.:

“Just read your article ‘A Puzzling Situation It Seems.’ I have my own theory:

“Traditionally, United States silver commemoratives of the classic era 1892 to 1954 have been mainly collected as a 50-piece type set. The 144-piece complete date and mintmark set has all of the varieties, including rarities, but it seems to me that there are other interesting possibilities.

“Such topics as eagles, the Civil War, fairs and expositions, and others can form interesting subsets. I’d like to suggest a new way of thinking to add excitement to collecting commemoratives—a 55-piece variety set that would include both Alabama, Grant, and Missouri varieties, a two-date Boone and a single-date Boone, and a single-date and a two-date Pilgrim.

“I’m sure there are many commemorative collectors who would like to go beyond just collecting the 50 basic coins, but just aren’t interested in going all out and buying every PDS coin in order to complete the 144 set collection.

“I seriously started collecting coins in 2002. My first coin was a 1928 Hawaiian Sesquicentennial MS-64 (PCGS). Soon afterwards I wrote to you asking for advice as I like collecting meaningful coins (on a limited budget). There is just something about the Grant with star, Alabama 2×2 and Missouri 2 star 4 that excited me and made me want to own them and their plain brothers. Even though the Booker T. Washington is one of my top five favorite commemoratives, I just don’t have the interest to buy all 18 inexpensive BTWs. Since most of the PDS commemoratives were a result of political shenanigans, they are also a bit of a turn-off, particularly in light of today’s political and economic environment. Thus, the 144 -coin set is never going to become a reality for me.

“I think encouraging collectors to think in terms of a 55-commemorative coin set is an opportunity to create new collector interest in commemoratives especially at the registry level.

“By the way, your Guide Book of United States Commemorative Coins continues to be popular as I just received my 11th helpful review vote on Amazon!”

QDB comment: This is a nice idea! Moreover, anyone building a 55-piece set can later add more. Most people have their favorites. A few years back the Society for U.S. Commemorative Coins took a poll of members and the all-time favorite was the Oregon Trail Memorial design.

Each commemorative has its own story. It is fun to look at pictures and select favorites. All choice and gem specimens sell for much less today in 2012 than they did in early 1990, 22 years ago!

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