This 1878 eight tail feathers Morgan dollar, graded PCGS PO-1 (none worse!), is from the End of the Trail VIII Collection of Low Ball Morgan dollars that will be exhibited for the first time during the 2014 ANA World's Fair of Money.

This 1878 eight tail feathers Morgan dollar, graded PCGS PO-1 (none worse!), is from the End of the Trail VIII Collection of Low Ball Morgan dollars that will be exhibited for the first time during the 2014 ANA World’s Fair of Money.

There was an interesting buzz around the numismatic world when it was announced that Professional Coin Grading Service was going to display the “End of the Trail” Morgan dollars registry, the lowest graded basic set of Morgan Dollars. The End of the Trail registry set is the finest set in the PCGS Registry of “Low Ball” coins.

In 2009, PCGS began to offer rewards for what they called and “everyman” or second tier registry competition. Apparently, it became a race to the bottom. While people are looking for the best coins their money can buy, someone went quite the opposite and set out to find the worst of the worst.

“It is the all-time finest, or in this case, the worst-of-the-worst basic Morgan dollar set in the Low Ball category. While collectors have a lot of fun with the Low Ball sets, remember that it often is just as difficult and exciting to build a low grade set as it is to assemble a high grade collection,” said PCGS President Don Willis.

Who am I to argue. After all, someone put together a set of PO-1 and FR-2 coins, many marked “None Worse,” and probably cost more to have them graded than the coins cost to purchase. Then who is to say that some did not find their way into a pocket or two before being submitted?

Cynicism aside, there is something ironic about putting together a set like this and it has to do with just having fun. It had to be a lot of fun to go around and search through junk boxes or ask dealers for their worst coins. It must have been interesting seeing the face of some of the dealers when they hand over their worst Morgan dollars only to be told they were not bad enough.

Think about it for a moment. Dealers are looking for the best, most pristine inventory to sell to eager buyers who walk by their cases looking at the pretty and shiny coins. When coins are not good enough to make the inventory, they are thrown into junk boxes for people to pick through. Larger coins, like Morgan dollars, would be sold for a price around their melt value since there would not be much of a numismatic premium.

The adventure had to be a lot of fun for the person assembling the set.

That what this is all about, having fun! If you are stressing out about the worth of your set, are you really having fun? Are you having fun worrying about the plastic entombing the coin or whether someone placed a sticker on that plastic or is the coin the most important part of your collection?

I know the registry sets exist for the third-party grading services to promote their products and get people to submit coins. I know putting together a top set can be gratifying. But is it fun? Are you putting together that set for the fun or the profit?

There are a lot of people who collect coins in some form. Some collect high grade Morgan dollars while others collect varieties or VAMs. Some pursue the best and most rare coins while you find many digging through junk boxes at the shows looking for that one small gem to fill the hole in their collection. You may like high-grade Buffalo nickels while others are searching half-dollar rolls they pick up at their local bank.

Regardless of how you collect, what you collect, and where you find your collection, if you are not having fun then maybe you should rethink what you are doing.

Just for kicks, here are three of my “low ball” coins:

1794 Liberty Cap Head Right Large Cent

This 1794 Liberty Cap Head Right Large Cent has been around since the time of George Washington and looks the part. This coin has been cleaned making it a candidate for a no-grade if I should submit it to a grading service.

1798 Draped Bust Large Cent

A very worn flat 1798 Draped Bust Large Cent. It took a lot of light and a 16x loupe to determine the date!

1803 Draped Bust Large Cent

Another worn flat Draped Bust Large Cent. This one is from 1803 and just has a lot of character.

Now if you would excuse me, there are some tokens and medals from my hometown of New York I bought at the Whitman show I need to add to my collection.

Morgan dollar image courtesy of PCGS.

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