My collecting philosophy is that whatever intrigues me, I will collect. My collection consists mostly of 20th century coins with the moderns complete through 2006. But as I have been filling holes in my albums with nice coins, I am missing the thrill of the hunt—the thrill of searching for something neat to fill those holes in the albums.

When I restarted collecting following my first wife’s untimely death, it was to have a diversion to get my mind off of recovering from that loss. As I expanded my interests, I started to buy albums and coins to put in those albums. I would buy coins in lots, take what I want and resell them elsewhere. It was fun, even when I bought those packages with pounds of coins. But some of the collections are complete and in others, I am missing some of the key dates.

The hunt was revived a little when I started to look into large cents and Morgan Dollars. Large and half cents are intriguing as they represented the founding father’s desire to ensure even those at the lowest levels can participate in the building economy. For example, the half-cent was struck so that change could be properly made when something costed “bits” one-eighth of the Spanish milled dollar or 12½ cents (a bit), the de facto currency of the new country.

That has been interesting, but there has to be more.

Fans of the Food Network have seen the various ways of turning cooking into competition. Numismatics has its own version of competition called Registry Sets. Registry sets are competitions amongst collectors to see who can put together the finest graded coins in a particular category. Categories range from date sets to date and mint mark sets to year sets. There are various categories for any interest.

Registry set competition is sponsored by PCGS and NGC individually. PCGS restricts registry sets to PCGS graded coins. NGC allows the NGC and PCGS graded coins in their registry set. Both services allows competitors to enter the information about their coins via the web, include pictures, and a short write up of the entry. PCGS’s web-based interface is recognized as being more user friendly. At the end of the year, both services recognizes the best sets as the best representation of the category they are entered.

Once I became interested with the registry set competition, I chose to compete for sets at NGC because of the ability to register both NGC and PCGS graded coins. It allows for more flexibility. Then I had to decide what sets to compete with. I started with uncirculated American Silver Eagle coins because I had a few already graded. But there is a lot of competition and I have not been collecting the highest grade in order to compete.

Previously, I had started to collect quarters, halves, and dollars from 1976 with the bicentennial commemorative reverses. These were the first changes in coinage during my life time and I remember the exuberance over the celebration. I really like the designs and I think were successful modern type coins. I submitted the best coins I had to NGC for grading and started my bicentennial set. NGC does not have a bicentennial set, but they have year sets for mint state, silver, and proof bicentennial coins. Then I started to purchase coins to complete the sets. My Mint State set is now fifth in the competition! I like having a set ranked that high, but I want it at least in the top three. I have the rest of this year to complete and improve this set!

As a side effect of this, I have been collecting the last large dollar series produced by the Mint. Eisenhower dollars are the last of the large dollars. These large metal pieces were not widely accepted and only lasted eight years. But I find them intriguing and started both mint state and proof sets. The mint state sets are missing the more expensive 1972 die types and the 1976 coins need to be upgraded, but as I said, there is time to fix this.

I would like to try to come up with a top ranked set. I am close with the mint state bicentennial set, but I have to upgrade those dollars. In the mean time, I am having fun putting together the sets, which this is all about!

Registry sets add a different slant on collecting and can be fun. You may want to give it a try.

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