Collecting Coin Sets vs. Individual Coins

Traditionally, numismatic purchases were made on a “coin-by-coin” basis; collectors would come across a coin they either needed to complete a collection, or desired for some other reason, and they would buy the individual coin. In recent years however, coin-show exhibitors, online dealers, and even some local coin shops have started to offer “sets” of coins, effectively doing the collecting for the buyer.

Any type of coin can be offered in a set. Dealers use any number of characteristics to group coins into a set. More frequently however, coins are grouped by release date and coin type. An example of this is the popular 2010 American Gold Eagle Set. In sets such as these, all of the coins of a particular type, release in a specific year are offered together. The 2010 American Gold Eagle Set in fact contains the highly anticipated 2010 1oz. American Gold Eagle, but all of the fractional sizes as well.

There are a number of advantages associated with buying gold coin sets as opposed to individual bullion coins. Some of the biggest benefits are listed here:

  • All Coins in a Series: As mentioned above, many sets offer the collector the opportunity to purchase all of the coins in a series at once. This is desirable if the buyer is purchasing coins as an investment, as aged sets generally demand a higher premium. Also, buying all the coins of a set takes a lot of stress out of completing a collection.
  • Discount: While older sets are often able to demand a premium higher than would be possible when selling the coins individually, this is not the case with newer sets. In fact, buying sets of modern coins is a great way to save on the total cost of completing your collection. If you know you’ll eventually want all the coins in a set, it’s usually best to buy the whole set in the first place.
  • Commemorative Coins: Some coins are only available in sets. These finds, which are usually commemorative in nature, cannot be purchased outside of a complete set. Additionally, some entire sets are commemorative. All of the coins within the set are unavailable otherwise.
  • **Certified: Most modern coins offered in sets are certified by a major coin grading service. This takes the guesswork out of buying a coin whenever it’s the case. Knowing the specific grade of a coin allows both buyer and seller to more aptly determine a fair price for the coin/set. Additionally, they almost always come in a slab that protects the coin nearly the moment it was struck.
  • Pre-Release: Some coin sets are offered to the public before the individual coins. That is, if the buyer agrees to purchase all the coins in a set, he may be able to acquire his coins well before other buyers. This is desirable if in fact the buyer is looking to turn his purchase around – he will have a product few other sellers can offer. It’s also great if the collector is just excited to see his new purchase.

While it’s true there are some definite advantages to purchasing coins in sets, it should not be forgotten that when the “hobby of kings” started, there were no such things. It was up to the collector to track down whichever coin he needed to complete his collection. Additionally, if the buyer does not actively want all of the coins in a set, buying them individually will save him money on more rare coins. The decision is truly up to the buyer.

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