Question: I have always wanted to start a U.S. gold coin type set, but I’m not quite sure what a “type set” of gold coins really is. Friends at the coin club told me there is a “short” set and a “long” set. Is there such a thing, and if so, what goes into each set? -P.J.M
Answer: Good question! There are “short” sets and “long” sets (in all series, incidentally), to be sure, but the beauty of a gold type set is that you are in control of what you want in your set. But, first things first. The typical short set of type gold coins might include one each of Liberty $1, $2.50, $5, $10, and $20, plus one each of the 20th Century gold issues: Indian $2.50, $5, and $10, plus a Saint-Gaudens $20, for a total of nine pieces. All of the coins in the nine-piece set are affordable in Mint State, and they make for an impressive display and collection. If so inclined, you might want to add some mintmarked pieces to the collection. The next step up includes the gold issues with and without IN GOD WE TRUST, added to the Liberty gold coins in 1866 (but not to the $1 or $2.50; these denominations never carried the motto in the Liberty series), and to the Indian and Saint-Gaudens pieces in 1908. Adding these pieces brings your type set up to 14 pieces (the 1908 Indian $2.50 and $5 were designed with the motto in place, and only come that way). As you become more advanced, perhaps a $3 gold piece will join your type set. As you browse the pages of the Red Book, you will see many other early types, many of which are rare and seldom available except with patience and for a good deal of money. If so inclined, your type set can include such great rarities as a 1796 No Stars $2.50 (and its even rarer counterpart with stars), or perhaps a rare $4 Stella or a MCMVII High Relief $20 is to your taste. No matter how you pursue your type set, the most important thing is to have fun doing it. Finally, if the best you can afford is EF-AU, select coins that compliment each other where lustre and color are concerned; the same holds true at the choice and gem Mint State level. Always remember, it’s your collection, so take your time and assemble a set that others will admire, a set that will make you proud!