Compiled by: Mark Trout,
Web master and President of the
Ocala Coin Club
And a collector of type coins, Jefferson nickels, small dollars, Souvenir cards, interesting currencies, F.U.N. tokens and Wooden nickels, and a hodgepodge of most other numismatic collectibles!
The designation Special Mint Set is used for coins that were distributed only in mint or commemorative sets by the US mint but are otherwise similar to the regular business strike coins. Most mint sets contain “Business Strike” coins that are exactly the same as the coins that go to the banks to be used in everyday commerce. SMS coins are only made for distribution to collectors in sets sold by the mint and are special in some fashion.
SMS coins can be found for the years 1965, 1966 and 1967 and include the Lincoln Penny, Jefferson Nickel, Roosevelt Dime, Washington Quarter and Kennedy half-dollar. The half-dollar is a clad composition and contains 40% silver, the same as the business strike coins of those years. During these 3 years the mint suspended proof coin production but due to the demand of collectors they made the SMS coins instead, which are made in slower coin presses using polished dies to give a superior finish. They are not up to the standards of proof coin of other years, yet are better quality than the business strike coins. SMS coins can also be found with a Cameo finish on them, much like the Cameo finish on a proof coin. This is due to the additional care used in striking the SMS coins. And like Cameo proof coins, Cameo SMS coins command a higher price. You will find many of these coins being sold as singles and many of the coin albums have a slot for both the regular business strike and the SMS coins.
In 2005, the mint started producing satin finish coins that are only available in mint sets. These are also SMS coins. Up to that point they used business strike coins to make up the mint sets. This makes 2 distinctly different coins in the P and D mint marked coins as the satin coins are made by superior processes and have the satin finish. As of this time I have not seen that the album companies are adding slots for these SMS coins but it will come due to collector demand. A fully complete set will contain the P mint business strike and P mint satin SMS coins and the same for the D mint coins.
There are a few other SMS coins that have been minted thorough the years. In 1994 there was a matte finish Jefferson nickel that comes in the 1993 Thomas Jefferson 250th anniversary commemorative set and then another Jefferson nickel in 1997 again with a matte finish and issued in the Botanic Garden commemorative set of the same year, both of these coins bear the P mint mark. 1998 s matte finish silver Kennedy half dollar is another SMS coin that was issued in the Robert F and John F Kennedy commemorative set of that year. There may be others but these are the ones I am familiar with.
The Ocala Coin Club
P.O. Box 3091
Ocala, FL 34478
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“You’re My Type!” by Mark L. Trout
A woman in the post office ahead of me pulled some cards out of her purse; she stepped up to the counter and told the postal clerk she was mailing some “Mother’s Day” cards and needed some stamps. The postal clerk noticed that the cards were in different sized envelopes, some colors, some flowered, and asked: “What denomination?” The lady paused for a moment and then said: “Three Baptist, a Presbyterian, a Methodist and a Pentecostal.”
The postal clerk laughed – “I meant what denomination of stamps!”
When we first began collecting coins we may have begun with a palm-full of coins of different denominations. We liked the Buffalos, thought the Indian cents looked neat and wondered what the lady was holding on the shield and why was that large copper-colored one almost as heavy as the big silver coin. And then there was that little one with the three Roman numerals on it!
Most of us begin our collecting adventures as a “type collector.” By “type collector” I mean that we collect single coins limited by some time period, or theme or value. We have a few coins of different denominations, and types, and we decide to add other coins to go with them. We decide to get a Shield and a Liberty Head to go with the Buffalo and the Jefferson nickels. Or we need a whitish, pale Indian Head cent to go with the regular dark brown one. We look through The Red Book and now need a Flying Eagle to go with the other small cents – including one with wheat ears and the silver colored one with 1943 on it. That’s type collecting!
What makes a type set? There are five basic criteria for a type set. These include:
Just so you know: There’s no absolute, perfect “right way” to collect coins. Your type set depends entirely on your personal preference! You can collect coins by denomination, that’s half-cent, one cent, two cent, three cent, half-dimes, dimes, twenty-cent pieces, quarters halves and dollars. If you wish you can add gold dollars, two-and-a half dollars, five dollars, ten dollars, twenty dollars, and even $50 coins!
You can secure one of each type of any denomination – like Shield, Liberty Head, Indian Head/Buffalo, and Jefferson Nickels. You can collect by date – one coin for each year – in cents, nickels, dimes, quarters, and so on. You can do both date and mint mark collecting but if you do, bring your bank account for the 1909-S VDB Lincoln, the 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter, or the 1894-S Barber Dime!
There are also year collectors who choose to assemble a type set by year – like 1925, 1953, or 1974 and they do not limit their collection to just US coins but collect coins from all over the world that bear that same date. Some collect coins from all over based on a theme from history, from art, or by design. There are as many ways to collect as there are collectors!
As you attain one of each type of your favorite coin and you succeeded in accomplishing your original goal, your search and experience allowed you to learn about other varieties that could be added to your type set. Usually we consider varieties to type collecting as:
Of course you learn about errors and eventually die varieties and die pairs. When exactly is your collection complete? When you say so! While there are many opinions, there is no perfect answer. There are over 300 types of coins minted by the U.S. government since the mint opened in 1792. It’s your choice how wide reaching your type collecting ranges. You can choose any of these types by denomination or by content of copper, nickel, silver or gold.
Consider for a moment small cent type collecting. You could begin with five coins – a Flying Eagle, an Indian Head, a Lincoln with wheat ears on the reverse, a Lincoln with the Memorial design and a Lincoln with a shield. You can, if you wish, expand your type set by adding the Indian Head cent with laurel leaves (just 1859 only); a copper-nickel Indian Head from 1860-1864; a Steel cent from 1943; a Memorial Lincoln from 1959-1981 in copper; all to go with your original 2015 Lincoln from pocket change!
For those who really want to expand their small cent type set, you can add a small letter variety Flying Eagle, a mint-marked Indian from 1908 or 1909, a wheat-eared Lincoln with VDB on the reverse (just a Philadelphia one, not the super deluxe San Francisco one!) While you’re adding, consider a shell case cent from the post-war years, the small date 1960 (compared to common large date you’ve discovered), the seven varieties of the 1982 Lincoln cent, and while you’re adding coins, keep looking for all four of the Lincoln Bicentennial cents of 2009, But that’s up to you – you could consider the proof Lincolns, one with and one without a mintmark, and one of the Special Mint Sets from 1965-1967 if you just have to have one of everything! Now do you understand how varied type collecting can be?
Every collector decides how deep they want to go into their passion. For some of us, we are content to fill in the holes of book, a frame, a cardboard holder, or our own parameters in notebook sheets. Some collectors chose to build a “family tree” selecting a coin to represent various relatives through multiple generations using the date on the coin to commemorate the births. Other people collected a type coin from their love of a design, from art, from memorable moments of history, or from places they’ve vacationed, lived or worked. Some, if they would admit it, have attained type coins from a coin show where they simply discovered a great purchase. (We may even call this “cherry picking” or merely being an astute numismatist!) Type Sets are not limited to one metal: copper, brass, bronze, aluminum, nickel, silver or gold can be incorporated into any type set depending on your subject, your interests, your personal collecting. You may leave your favorite type to specialize in one series. You may consolidate your holdings into a trophy coin of your choice – a key date or a rarer coin collected just for itself – an icon in its own series.
Where do you go from here? Do you want to collect animals or airplanes? What about ships, trains or automobiles? Type collecting can fulfill your dreams. You can make it easy, medium or hard. Type collecting may be as simple as a few pieces, a small coin holder, board or book. For an advanced collector, why not attain a twentieth century type set of key date coins? That would include the research and the search for such collectible treasures as the Lincoln 1909-S VDB cent, the 1913-S type II Buffalo nickel, the 1916-D Mercury dime, and other such elusive relics. If your pocketbook won’t let you acquire these in Mint State 65 condition, then pick them up in Fine or Very Fine and pursue a key-date type set.
Novice collectors can collect type coins, too. Who says your two-cent piece type coin had to be saved in Mint State 66 Red? There’s nothing wrong with an obsolete coin in Good, Very Good, or Fine and you can collect toward a 19th century type set as well as a complete 20th century type set of copper, nickel and silver coins without spending hundreds of dollars per coin.
Type collectors may also be serious Numismatists. I would recommend David W. Lange’s four articles from January through April of 1998 The Numismatist on type coin collecting. His evaluation of choosing the best specimen of each series of US coins is both informative and intriguing. There is much to be learned if you desire to be a knowledgeable collector, not merely an accumulator of coins!
A local garage in a small Kansas town caught fire and was totally enveloped in flames. The local fire engine, with six volunteers clinging to its sides, came charging up to the fire at high speed. The fire wagon drove right into the garage and the middle of the flames. The six fire fighters jumped off and put out the fire in no time flat! A tourist who happened to be wealthy was so impressed with their brave and efficient work donated $1,000 to the small town’s fire department to use for equipment. He asked, “For what will you use the money?”
The fire chief drawled, “Well, first we’re gonna’ fix the brakes on the fire truck so we can stop when we arrive at a fire!”
Before you merely gather and hoard coins, please fix the brakes! Set your goals and discover what you would like to collect by reading. Buy the book, subscribe to the magazines, surf the net, and gain more information about the coins you already own. Then you can learn how to be a knowledgeable and well-informed type set coin collector. An investment in knowledge will pay more than your wallet or your coin collection can generate! Find your favorite type coins and always know that you set your own limits – no publisher, no chart, no other collector can demand that you collect your coins in a certain way no matter what your denomination!
When you walk the aisle at a coin shop, a coin show or by the auction table here at coin club, you will know what you are looking for and when you have found it. Then you can say with pride, “That’s the coin I went looking for! You’re just my type!”
Yeoman, R. S.; edited by Bressett, Kenneth; A Guidebook of united States Coins. [The Official Red Book] 68th edition, Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2015.
Lang, David W.: “Assembling the Ideal 20th Century type Set” in The Numismatist. American Numismatic Association, Colorado Springs; January; February, March and April issues, 1998.
Bowers, Q. David; A Guide Book of United States Type Coins. 2nd edition, Whitman Publishing, Atlanta, 2008.