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Coin Collecting for Beginners – Why Short Sets Are No Small Potatoes

By Littleton Coin Company ………..
Short set of 1934-1938 Buffalo nickels

Short set of 1934-1938 Buffalo nickels, all protected in a custom-made display holder (image courtesy Littleton Coin Company).

For many collectors, building a complete date and mint mark collection of any given coin series can be a daunting task. But there are some beautiful classic American issues that you can miss out on, simply because collecting them by date and mint mark can seem overwhelming! It’s really just a matter of finding the best solution to your situation… Short Sets.

These “mini” collections are much more affordable than a regular date and mint mark collection, since they contain far fewer coins. The beauty in a short set lies in the collector’s ability to bypass a number of key-date issues. These scarce and desirable pieces are typically responsible for a good portion of the expense that goes into a collection. Zero in on a specific date range that avoids those heavy-hitting coins and you’ll cut your cost of ownership down to a fraction.

Get started with these three popular short sets:

1. Liberty Walking Half Dollars

The 90% silver Liberty Walking half dollar series was issued from 1916-1947. With three issuing mints (Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco) over the course of three decades, you’re looking at a very broad collection!

But if there’s ever a good time to put the blinders on (so to speak), this is it. Pull back from the full date range of the series, and look at just the final seven years of the series – 1941-1947. That’s the short set for the series, which gives you a much more manageable range to work with! You can own the beauty of A.A. Weinman’s stunning design in just 20 issues. And maybe, since you won’t have to “pinch pennies” in order to afford the complete series, you’ll be able to add some nicer examples to your collection!

When you’re talking about the most beautiful silver coin design in American history – quality HAS to be an important factor.

2. Mercury Dimes

Another beautiful series that can be pricey – if you’re not considering the short set – is the Mercury dime. Struck from 1916-1945, this 90% silver coin features a delicate rendition of Liberty in a winged cap (representing freedom of thought). Because of the wings on her cap, Liberty was originally mistaken for the Roman messenger god. That’s where the series’ popular nickname comes from.

The Mercury dime short set covers the final five years of the series – 1941-1945. This date range also coincides with the years of America’s involvement in World War II. That gives the Mercury dime short set an added appeal for anyone interested in history. Since this set of Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco minted coins encompasses the dates from Pearl Harbor to the war’s end, it’s not just a great way to own an affordable collection of Mercury dimes – it also serves as a unique time capsule.

3. Buffalo Nickels

Nothing says “Old West” like the 1913-1938 Buffalo nickel. With its Native American obverse and bison reverse designs, this series has long been thought of as the only “truly American” coin. It’s no surprise that Buffalo nickels are a beloved piece of our nation’s past! But these coins were prone to wear, and since they were used so extensively in commerce, some are more difficult for today’s collectors to find. The short set for this series once again contains the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco issues from the last five years – 1934-1938.

If you’ve ever wanted to build a dream collection, but have held back because of the cost – or if you were overwhelmed by the scope of your favorite coin series – a short set might just be for you!

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Littleton Coin Company is one of the nation’s leading suppliers of coins, paper money and collecting supplies. Since 1945, they have been making collecting fun and easy. For more information about the Littleton Coin Company or the Collector Stories Contest, visit www.littletoncoin.com

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