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Coin Collecting Strategies – Vertical Coin Collections

By Doug Winter RareGoldcoins.com
CoinWeek Content Partner……….

I was having a conversation with client JF, and he told me about a way he collects coins which I thought was novel and neat enough to share with you. If you are familiar with wine collecting (and drinking) you know about verticals. A vertical wine collection is when an individual pursues different vintages of the same wine type (Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc.) from the same winery. An example of this would be a vertical set of Bordeaux from Chateau Lafite Rothschild bottled between 1985 and 2015.


JF has applied this collecting principle to coins and the result is, in my opinion, pretty compelling. He has chosen a few selected dates and mints and created vertical sets. This has been done before (Harry X. Boosel and his 1873 set comes to mind) but not with challenging dates/mintmarks, and not across the spectrum from silver to gold.

To respect this collector’s privacy I’m not going to reveal which vertical sets he is working on (there are some real doozies!) but I’m going to give you a specific example of how a vertical set would work.

If you like this concept, you have to give your possible set some serious thought. You don’t want to choose a set which is impossible to complete (like an 1870-S vertical set with the extremely rare silver dollar and the unique three dollar) or too mundane (like an 1888-S set…why bother?). You want a set in which as many denominations as possible were struck, and one which isn’t so conditionally challenging that you have to settle for very low grade pieces.

Charlotte, New Orleans, Denver, and Dahlonega vertical sets are not a realistic option, so this leaves Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Carson City. The San Francisco mint opened in 1854 and the Carson City mint began production in 1870, so these two dates need to be factored into the equation. Also, coinage of silver dollars was sporadic at the New Orleans mint, so this must be factored into the equation as well.

If I were asked which year to build a vertical set, I think I would select a Civil War date. 1864-S comes to mind due to the great rarity of the half eagle and eagle, but that might be a little too tough. The date I would select is 1865 and the mint I would choose is San Francisco.

In 1865, the San Francisco mint made silver coins in half dime through half dollar denominations but not the silver dollar. All four of these silver issues are scarce but all can be obtained in the higher circulated grades without much effort, and even a collector who wanted all four to fall in the MS63 to MS65 range could probably find the coins with patience (although the dime and the quarter would be really tough).

1865-S gold coinage exists for the quarter eagle, the half eagle, the eagle (two varieties), and the double eagle, giving the set a total of nine coins.

The quarter eagle and the double eagle are the most available of the gold coins; the former due to a relatively large original mintage and the latter due to shipwrecks. The half eagle is moderately scarce in lower grades, rare in AU, and exceedingly rare in Uncirculated. The two most challenging issues are the 1865-S eagles: the normal date and the inverted date. Both are rare in properly grade EF, very rare in AU, and nearly unavailable above AU55.

A vertical 1865-S set consists of nine coins in total and it is feasible to complete the silver portion of the set in Uncirculated and the gold portion in a mixture of AU and Uncirculated grades.

There are many other vertical sets which I think would be interesting to work on. For New Orleans, possible dates include 1855-O, 1857-O, 1858-O, and 1860-O. Some of the more interesting San Francisco dates include 1855-S, 1856-S, 1857-S, 1860-S, and 1864-S.

Do you collect vertical sets of United States coins? If so, which ones are you working on? I’d love to hear your comments and encourage you to leave them in the space below. For more interesting coin collecting strategies, please contact me by email at [email protected].

About Doug Winter

Doug_Winter2Doug has spent much of his life in the field of numismatics; beginning collecting coins at the age of seven, and by the time he was ten years old,  buying and selling coins at conventions in the New York City area.

In 1989, he founded Douglas Winter Numismatics, and his firm specializes in buying and selling choice and rare United States coins, especially US gold coins and all branch mint material.

Recognized as one of the leading specialized numismatic firms, Doug is an award winning author of over a dozen numismatic books and the recognized expert on US Gold. His knowledge and exceptional eye for properly graded and original coins has made him one of the most respected figures in the numismatic community and a sought after dealer by collectors and investors looking for professional personalized service, a select inventory of impeccable quality and fair and honest pricing.  Doug is also a major buyer of all US coins and is always looking to purchase collections both large and small.  He can be reached at 214-675-9897.

Doug has been a contributor to the  Guidebook of United States Coins (also known as the “Redbook”) since 1983, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins,  Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues

In addition he has authored 13 books on US Gold coins including:

  • Gold Coins of the New Orleans Mint: 1839-1909
  • Gold Coins of the Carson City Mint: 1870 – 1893
  • Gold Coins of the Charlotte Mint: 1838-1861
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint 1838-1861
  • The United States $3 Gold Pieces 1854-1889
  • Carson City Gold Coinage 1870-1893: A Rarity and Condition Census Update
  • An Insider’s Guide to Collecting Type One Double Eagles
  • The Connoisseur’s Guide to United States Gold Coins
  • A Collector’s Guide To Indian Head Quarter Eagles
  • The Acadiana Collection of New Orleans Coinage
  • Type Three Double Eagles, 1877-1907: A Numismatic History and Analysis
  • Gold Coins of the Dahlonega Mint, 1838-1861: A Numismatic History and Analysis
  • Type Two Double Eagles, 1866-1876: A Numismatic History and Analysis

Finally Doug is a member of virtually every major numismatic organization, professional trade group and major coin association in the US.

If you are interested in buying or selling classic US coins or if you would  like to have the world’s leading expert work with you assembling a set of coins? Contact Doug Winter at (214) 675-9897 or by email at [email protected].

Doug Winter
Doug Winterhttps://www.raregoldcoins.com
Doug Winter founded Douglas Winter Numismatics (DWN) in 1985. The nationally renowned firm specializes in buying and selling rare United States gold coins. He has written over a dozen books, including the standard references on Charlotte, Dahlonega, and New Orleans gold coinage, and Type 1 Liberty Head Double Eagles. Douglas has also contributed to the A Guidebook of United States Coins, Walter Breen’s Encyclopedia of United States and Colonial Coins, Q. David Bowers’ Encyclopedia of United States Silver Dollars, and Andrew Pollock’s United States Pattern and Related Issues. He is a member of the PNG, the ANA, the ANS, the NLG, CAC, PCGS, and NGC - among other professional affiliations. Contact Doug Winter at [email protected].

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  1. I think I understand. So, a vertical set sounds like a year and particular mint mark set. Correct? So let’s say I want to do 1980 S. Then this set would consist of all 1980 S proof coins. I think year sets, like birth year sets, are well known. The only thing a vertical set adds is a mint mark, I guess. Another interesting thing to consider is a year and mint mark where the US also made foreign coins. I know they made some for Australia the 40s, the Philippines, etc. I think a true vertical set would have to include these coins if you chose a year and mint mark that includes foreign coins made by our Mint. Just a thought.


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