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Ætheling
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When you are working on a set how do you go about dealing with the problem of keys, do you;

 

A] Leave them till the end and buy all the affordable and commoner stuff first

 

OR

 

B] Do you try and get the keys first and leave the common coins till last?

 

 

And why?

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Guest Stujoe

If you truely know that you will want to buy them, I think that you should get them early to middle in a collection and not at the end. At least in the US market, they just keep going up and up in price.

 

Now, I have tried to do that with a lot of semi-keys (wish I had been able to do it with a lot more every time I look at a price guide :ninja: ) but my finances are not such that I am willing to do that for the few true keys that I need. For those I have to probably wait until I am older, kids are out of the house, etc, etc and hope that they have not risen to the point that they are forever out of reach.

 

Now, if you have the kind of ready disposable income needed, buy the keys and buy them early...but not so early that you are not knowledgeable enough to make sure you are getting your money's worth.

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I don't have a set rule concerning the order in which I purchase coins for a set.

I look at individual coins, regardless of their commoness, and try to decide if they are the right coin for the set I'm putting together.

In my case, money is always a concern, so there may be some months when I simply can't afford a "key date", but I may be able to purchase a nice common date. The opposite is also true. I may be able to afford a key, but it might not be one that I think would fit into the set I'm working on.

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Seems a good and sensible policy to me Stujoe.

 

I try my best to get the keys first, but i know what you mean about sometimes not being in a position to get them at the time that it would seem most logical or advantagous to do so.

 

Thus advice i would give to collectors and i'm sure GD would echo this advice, if the key comes along at the right price snap it up (whether you decide to collect them or not in the end doesn't matter because a key will always sell again). Even if you end up with just the one coin a key is better than a whole run of common date coins any day if you know that the key is going to have to be dealt with at some point.

 

Another reason other than the price is sometimes the rarity. Now price and rarity is often closely linked, in the US series it'd be hard to find a rarity that's not expensive.

 

But in some world serieses there are key coins out there that are truely rare although the price of them is not significantly higher because of the lower demand perhaps. This can be a real problem later on because once you've got all the easy stuff and you get to the last few gaps and you simply can't find that rare coin anywhere, you've got the cash for it maybe but can you find the coin anywhere, no! This is truely annoying and can make you feel disillusioned. Especially in obscure serieses.

 

If you manage to get the tough cookies first then the collection will work the other way around, rather than starting with a fast momentum and coasting for several months before the braking force is applied eventually leading you to a near ground halt six coins from completion and a possible loss of interest. If you do it the other way around you are still enthusiastic about the new quest/challenge you've set yourself and when you get the keys first the satisfaction from knowing the tougher ones to acquire are with you will keep you optimistic whilst you deal with the other tough coins. Of course once you move to the Semi-Keys you'll slowly begin to pick up pace and when you get onto the common stuff it's then speeding up to the final conclusion and you'll probably take the collection to completion because there's not much to stop you. Every collection i've attempted so far i bought the commoner stuff first and that explains why i've never completed one yet. So i'm now trying it the other way around (something i knew i should have done with all the others but impulsive buys you know).

 

Just my two groats.

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I don't agree with the philosophy of buy the keys at the beginning. My personal approach favors starting with the lower priced coins. That way I have something to show for my collecting efforts. It's also "safer" to learn on lower priced coins when you're new to a series. By the time you've gotten a decent portion of the lower priced coins, I'm sure you would have a few that you'd have to say "Gosh, that was a mistake! It's over graded, damaged, incorrectly attributed, whatever.". I'd rather say that about coins that cost me 20 or 30 dollars than coins that cost me in the hundreds.

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Guest Stujoe
I don't agree with the philosophy of buy the keys at the beginning. My personal approach favors starting with the lower priced coins. That way I have something to show for my collecting efforts. It's also "safer" to learn on lower priced coins when you're new to a series. By the time you've gotten a decent portion of the lower priced coins, I'm sure you would have a few that you'd have to say "Gosh, that was a mistake! It's over graded, damaged, incorrectly attributed, whatever.". I'd rather say that about coins that cost me 20 or 30 dollars than coins that cost me in the hundreds.

 

I agree. That is what I was tryihng to say too. Buy them early but not too early that they are beyond your knowledge level and you make some expensive mistakes. Your first coin should probably not be an 1856 FEC or a 1909S IHC or whatever. :ninja:

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I was presuming it'd be a series you'd already dabbled with prior to beginning to collect.

 

I always do a bit of back ground reading, search around, see what's available, investigate the market, the scope and the grading before i even start thinking of just sticking a set together.

 

Same with these new French coins i've taken a liking to. I've got copies of the Krause, i've seen what's there, i've enquired about the market. I've done a bit of background on the period itself. I intend my next move to acquire a book on French coins from this period and a better French dictionary. I know where to get both from. Then it's time to read as much as i can. Only then will i decide to start a collection.

 

 

So far i've always asked for advice because i'm not a reference work in this area... yet. :ninja:

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I have found, in many instances, its not buy the keys when you so chose, its buy the keys when you actually FIND them. Many key dates don't come along very often so, if it is something I really need, I don't pass it up if the price is within my range at any given time. I have only seen and held one 1885 Liberty V nickel in my 30 years of collecting so that one came home with me. Not as nice as I would have really wanted but my options are limited unless I want to buy sight unseen from a national dealer or Ebay. I also purchased the 1884, 1886 and 1912S at the same time as they are all tough to get and I got the opportuntiy to see just what I was getting and then brought them all home. I can always upgrade should I encounter better coins and the ones I purchased a few years ago have already seen tremendous price increases so I know I made a wise decision at the time. Even I sometimes do something right! :ninja:

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I have found, in many instances, its not buy the keys when you so chose, its buy the keys when you actually FIND them. Many key dates don't come along very often so, if it is something I really need, I don't pass it up if the price is within my range at any given time. I have only seen and held one 1885 Liberty V nickel in my 30 years of collecting so that one came home with me. Not as nice as I would have really wanted but my options are limited unless I want to buy sight unseen from a national dealer or Ebay. I also purchased the 1884, 1886 and 1912S at the same time as they are all tough to get and I got the opportuntiy to see just what I was getting and then brought them all home. I can always upgrade should I encounter better coins and the ones I purchased a few years ago have already seen tremendous price increases so I know I made a wise decision at the time. Even I sometimes do something right! :ninja:

 

 

I've done this myself so i know exactly what you mean there. Key dates can always be upgrade later, and selling off a recently displace key can help you buy more coins you need.

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Guest 50cents

I would want to know the series first before I started buying key dates. I would say buy some commom dates and some books , learn to grade and then buy some key dates... Alot of dealers sell overgraded raw keydates so i would say stick to one of the major grading co for keydates...

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I have found, in many instances, its not buy the keys when you so chose, its buy the keys when you actually FIND them. Many key dates don't come along very often so, if it is something I really need, I don't pass it up if the price is within my range at any given time. I have only seen and held one 1885 Liberty V nickel in my 30 years of collecting so that one came home with me. Not as nice as I would have really wanted but my options are limited unless I want to buy sight unseen from a national dealer or Ebay. I also purchased the 1884, 1886 and 1912S at the same time as they are all tough to get and I got the opportuntiy to see just what I was getting and then brought them all home. I can always upgrade should I encounter better coins and the ones I purchased a few years ago have already seen tremendous price increases so I know I made a wise decision at the time. Even I sometimes do something right! :ninja:

 

Same. No need to seek them out. Especially when you're on a tight budget, sometimes you can just wait for them to pop up...

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Being a type collector, I buy keys of anything I can afford in order to sell them and get a high grade example of a type I want. Somehow, I missed being bitten by the series bug. I may have two examples of the same type in different grades but if they're different dates or mintmarks, it's purely happenstance.

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My answer is both! In some of the more common series, like Jeffersons, Lincolns and Washingtons, I got all the commons first and saved the keys for last. This is mainly because the keys in these series aren't that tough (yes, an 09-S VDB is a tough date, but there are dozens of examples in virtually every major auction). On my Saint set however, I started with the common dates, and then quickly moved into Keys, mainly because it's so darn hard to find many of them! I've managed to get a 13-S, 22-S, 24-S and 25-S, among the keys, but they were mostly opportunistic buys. Ironically enough, I still don't have a 1923, 23-D or 25! I am in no rush since they will probably always be plentiful, and even with the recent run in the series, the 25 in MS-64 maybe doubled from 5 years ago, but the keys I've bought have tripled and in some cases risen more, in less time!

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My answer is both!  In some of the more common series, like Jeffersons, Lincolns and Washingtons, I got all the commons first and saved the keys for last.  This is mainly because the keys in these series aren't that tough (yes, an 09-S VDB is a tough date, but there are dozens of examples in virtually every major auction).  On my Saint set however, I started with the common dates, and then quickly moved into Keys, mainly because it's so darn hard to find many of them!  I've managed to get a 13-S, 22-S, 24-S and 25-S, among the keys, but they were mostly opportunistic buys.  Ironically enough, I still don't have a 1923, 23-D or 25!  I am in no rush since they will probably always be plentiful, and even with the recent run in the series, the 25 in MS-64 maybe doubled from 5 years ago, but the keys I've bought have tripled and in some cases risen more, in less time!

I went and looked at your Saints set, very impressive indeed. Congratulations on your ranking. I did notice something however, you have several coins listed showing a grading of MS under 60, like MS 50. I thought the MS designation was reserved to any coin ranking 60 or higher. I am up for some education! :ninja:

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I will usually get the keys as soon as possible. Once I get a few of the series, learn a bit about them and decide I want to finish the series then they key dates are the next stop.

 

Of course I only have 2 key date coins, an 1889-CC Morgan for my CC morgan dollar collection, and the 1939-D Jefferson for that series. I went nuts with that one though, I started with a fine and kept buying better conditions until I reached MS 65. I think I have 8 -39-D's with two MS 65's.

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My answer is both!  In some of the more common series, like Jeffersons, Lincolns and Washingtons, I got all the commons first and saved the keys for last.  This is mainly because the keys in these series aren't that tough (yes, an 09-S VDB is a tough date, but there are dozens of examples in virtually every major auction).  On my Saint set however, I started with the common dates, and then quickly moved into Keys, mainly because it's so darn hard to find many of them!  I've managed to get a 13-S, 22-S, 24-S and 25-S, among the keys, but they were mostly opportunistic buys.  Ironically enough, I still don't have a 1923, 23-D or 25!  I am in no rush since they will probably always be plentiful, and even with the recent run in the series, the 25 in MS-64 maybe doubled from 5 years ago, but the keys I've bought have tripled and in some cases risen more, in less time!

 

Good catch on that one! There are actually a couple schools of thought on that one. Most people, including me believe that the MS portion of the Sheldon scale goes from 60-70, though some have argued that all grades are technically MS, as each grade is a "mint state" it's just that some are further from the mint than others (i.e. MS-65 is much closer to the state while still inside the mint than "MS-4"). I think for the NGC Registry, it's just a quirk of their system in that the AU grades are the only ones differentiated by number, so they assigned and MS grade. If you enter a coin that is EF, they just mark it EF, whether it's EF-40 or EF-45, similarly, a VF is just VF whether it's VF-20, 25, 30 or 35. If NGC truly believed otherwise, it would show on their holders!

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Commons first, keys last. In addition to having similar reasons as many others, I will mention 2 other reasons why I do that.

 

First, the nature of the way that I collect coins tends to favor this method. When I start collecting a set it often starts inadvertantly. I get a coin in a trade that begins to interest me. Then I get another than another and so on. Soon I find myself with many of the common dates already. This is especially common with circulating issues.

 

Second, when I make the decision to try to collect a date run, I like to go after the common dates first. Eventually, when I get to the keys (and subsequently more pricier dates), if my interest in that series has waned, I can leave it there and move on to something else. Then I will not have put too much time and effort into a series that I have lost interest in. If I am still gung ho about it, then I know that the time and effort in finding and purchasing the keys will be worth it.

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