The Joys of Type Collecting

Or, what the heck is a type, anyway?

Sept. 17, 2019

At we have always loved (and always will) Lincoln cents. This is due not only to our long history with coins, like so many collectors Of A Certain Age filling up the two little blue Whitman folders with pennies plucked from circulation—but also because of our immense respect and admiration for President Abraham Lincoln, arguably our nation’s greatest President.

Nonetheless, we have also loved “U.S. type collecting” for many years. It is an area that we specialize in—or perhaps “generalize” is a better term. After all, what is a “type” coin? In the narrow sense of U.S. coinage—and given that almost every collector is budget-constrained in one way or another—we would define a “U.S. type coin” as a “typically common but exemplary specimen of a given U.S. coin design or series.” So, a 1913 (Philadelphia) Type 1 Buffalo nickel would be considered a good candidate for type collecting, due to their wide availability in high grade. A 1913-S Type 2 or a 1918/7-D overdate Buffalo nickel would not normally be considered “type” coins.

But that’s kinda, like, boring, isn’t it? It doesn’t go far enough. What “types” of coins do you want to collect? After all, it’s a wide world out there. “North American” (= 23 countries) coins actually include (surprise!) Canadian and Mexican coins, as well as coins from Central America and the Caribbean, as well as U.S. coins. And they have some wonderful types as well! (Panamanian silver balboas, Victoria half dollars, Newfoundland dimes, Mexican 8 reales, anyone?)

And beyond that, collecting “types” is really only limited by your imagination. Here area some of the ideas (and customer inquiries we have had over the years) that suggest other type collections:

Type Collecting by Theme. Pick your favorite animal. Cats (Isle of Man has a great Cats series), horses, dragons, birds, composers, authors, historical figures/personages/battles (U.S. commemorative half dollars are great for that last) … The sky’s the limit.

Odd Denominations: Just among U.S. coins you can go for half cents, two cents, three cents (nickel and silver) and twenty cent pieces among minor coinage, and add three- and four-dollar gold pieces if you are feeling feisty. Most Americans are oblivious to even the existence of such odd coins. And believe me, coinage of the British Empire has denominations I have yet to successfully decipher (but man those Guineas and Gothic Florins are beautiful).

Type Collecting by Region or Country. There are currently somewhat less than 200 countries in the world, most of which make (or have made for them) coinage. You can collect coins of the Baltic countries, European crowns, Latin American coinage, or, what the heck, try to find the earliest non-Roman-numerals-dated coins from various countries you can like our friend Tibor does.

Type Collecting by Date. One guy we know collects prime number (numbers with no factors than themselves and 1) America-related coinage. Swear to God.

In Conclusion: Here’s a small selection, a few of our favorites from the vast possibilities for “type collecting.” We hope you enjoyed this small exegesis. And thus endeth our tale.

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