There’s something extremely satisfying about seeing (and even more so assembling) a beautifully matched set of coins. One of the main reasons it’s so satisfying is that it has undeniable eye appeal. The other reason is it’s an extremely difficult task to accomplish.
If you’re like me and you’d rather rush to complete your set and then take time to upgrade it, one way to do this is by assembling a set by price rather than grade. If you start with a reasonably low per-coin average price, your collecting mistakes may not cost you too much.
Let’s say, after reviewing key-date prices, you ultimately want to do a full set of Roosevelt Dimes in MS-67 FB. Okay, not easy, but not out of reach, as many coins top out at MS-68 FB. Regardless, putting together a beautiful set in MS-67 is going to take time, especially if you’re careful about eye appeal, or, say, if you like spectacular toning. That kind of ultimate set is going to be tough to assemble!
It’s almost always a good idea to get key dates first, so you might begin with those to determine what your starting budget is going to be. Work backward from a total set price with the keys to reach a round number you like, dividing by the number of coins to get an average coin price.
Using the PCGS Price Guide, we see that a cost for the whole set in MS-66 FB could be about $6,300. It doesn’t take much scrolling to find that there are more than a few three-figure coins in 66 FB, and quite a few in 67. So define your budget and work backward. ⤵️
If you set a starting average coin price of only $30 per coin, most Roosevelts should go rather quickly. You’re limiting your grade, but you’re learning about each year as you go, too. You’ll figure out which dates require substantial investment and where the price breaks happen. You’ll begin to discover the proclivities of the type you’re working on.
Once you finish your first go-through (somewhat quickly), you have the satisfaction of a complete set. Then, you can start to even out the grades for eye appeal. As you go, you’ll learn which coins are tough to acquire in certain grades, and you’ll learn when to pop for a big upgrade and when to settle in, study more, and be patient. You’ll also begin to get an idea if you love the coins enough to go after a place in the PCGS Set Registry.
Another significant reason to do this is that it takes some time. You get to watch the market work on the coins in the price range, then in the grades you’re looking at. Doing so helps you understand the open market for the coins and how to go about collecting the series more fruitfully.
It can take years to complete a matching set in high grade, and even longer to make a set with a matched look. Think Large Cents — getting coins in matching grade and color can take a lifetime! But by using a little budget discipline to learn the ropes of the series before you get really serious, you’ll save yourself some time getting to a complete set, and, potentially a lot of money as you learn — for the long haul.
Press release courtesy of the Professional Coin Grading Service.