Short Set Collecting Strategies by Adrian Chacon for PCGS ……
 

Collecting Short sets  of coins that represents a portion of an entire series. There is a particular range of years which accommodates these sets, and many of these short sets are very popular among collectors. All sets mentioned below can be found in the PCGS Set Registry®.

Buffalo Nickels – (1934-1938)

  • Coins in complete short set: 12
  • Current number of sets in PCGS Set Registry: 138

Struck by the United States Mint from 1913-1938, the Buffalo nickel was designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser. This 12-coin short set includes the last five years this beautiful coin was issued. The completion of this set does not require the well-known (and expensive) 1937-D “three-legged” nickel variety. Finding uncirculated examples of any of these 12 coins should not be difficult, making this set fun and easy to complete.

War Nickels – (1942-1945)

  • Coins in complete short set: 11
  • Current number of sets in PCGS Set Registry: 284

What makes theses Jefferson nickels “war” nickels? During World War II, nickel was found to be a strategic metal for the war effort, particularly in producing artillery. On October 8, 1942, the Philadelphia Mint began production of the first “wartime nickels”, changing the composition of the nickels to 35% silver, 9% manganese, and 56% copper. These can be easily distinguished by the large mintmark above the dome of Monticello. Interestingly, the 1942-P wartime nickel marks the first time the “P” mintmark appeared on a United States coin. Silver Jefferson nickels were produced through 1945, after which the composition reverted to the previous standard.

Mercury Dimes – (1940-1945)

  • Coins in complete short set: 18
  • Current number of sets in PCGS Set Registry: 230

Designed by Adolph A. Weinman, the Mercury dime is perhaps the most popular series when it comes to collecting dimes. Struck from 1916-1945, Mercury dimes offer many challenges to collectors who wish to build a complete 77-coin basic circulation strike set. Concentrating on a short set of just 18 coins can still be fun and fulfilling. There is a reason why this set is so popular with collectors – the design is simply stunning.

Walking Liberty Halves – (1941-1947)

  • Coins in complete short set: 20
  • Current number of sets in PCGS Set Registry: 358

The Walking Liberty half dollar was designed by sculptor Adolph A. Weinman and struck from 1916-1947. The old Whitman coin albums broke down the Walking Liberty set of 1916-1947 into two sets, with the 1916-40 issues comprising one set and the 1941-47 dates the other. Thus, the “short set” was born, and it’s more popular today than ever. This set consists of coins from a pivotal period in American history, World War II. Putting this set together will be a fun challenge for both beginning and intermediate collectors.
 


 

1 COMMENT

  1. Great suggestions. I collect mercury dimes, and am currently focusing on pre-1934 branch mint issues. There is a natural break in the overall series, as no coins were minted during the two year period of 1932-1933. Also, a number of the branch mint issues from this period are lower mintage and can be challenging to find original AU range specimens. The short sets mentioned in this article are certainly valid options, but I never hear about a “short set” that focuses on just issues from a particular mint.

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