Collecting a ‘Type’ Set of Coins


One of the beauties of coin collecting is that there are no hard and fast rules that determine what you should and shouldn’t collect. One way of collecting coins is collecting a ‘type’ set of coins. A type set of coins comprises an exemplary type of each coin from a series of coins. What exactly makes up a type set is open to a great deal of debate, but as I mentioned, it’s your collection so you can define it.

Australian 1952 Threepence

Australian 1952 Threepence

I thought it would be worthwhile examining a series of coins to determine (loosely) what a type set for this series would comprise. I’ve decided to focus on the Australian Threepence, because it’s a short set and not open to much debate. The Australian 3d was minted from 1910 to 1964 spanning the reign of 4 different monarchs. Edward VII had coins minted in 1910 only, George V from 1911 to 1936, George VI from 1938 to 1952, and Elizabeth II from 1953 to 1964. Of these monarchs George VI and Elizabeth II threepence were minted with two obverses. So it is (on the surface at least) very easy to define the ‘type’ set for the Australian 3d.

1. Edward VII 3d (1910 only)
2. George V 3d (1911-1936)
3. George VI Obverse 1 (1938 to 1948)
4. George VI Obverse 2 (1949 to 1952)
5. Elizabeth II Obverse 1 (1953 to 1954)
6. Elizabeth II Obverse 2 (1955 to 1964)

There we have it, 6 coins and you have an Australian 3d type set! Right? Well, perhaps. What if we were to take into account mint marks? From 1942 to 1944 some Australian 3d’s were minted in the USA with a D (Denver) or S (San Francisco) mint mark on the reverse of the coin. In addition, in 1951 some 3d’s were minted in London, again with a mint mark on the reverse (this time a PL). So now, our type set is expanded by a further three coins.


7. George VI ‘D’ mintmark (1942 or 1943)
8. George VI ‘S’ mintmark (1942 to 1944)
9. George VI ‘PL’ mintmark (1951)

Australian 1956 Threepence

Australian 1956 Threepence

OK, finally, we’re done! Well, again, perhaps we are and perhaps we are not. This is where things get really murky. What if we were to include major varieties into the mix? The Aussie threepence has two of these, the 1922/1 overdate and the 1934/3 overdate. These two overdates are certainly in most of the dansco type folders for this series, so they could indeed be considered part of the type set. But this is where the decision lays with you, the collector. You may decide to ignore these two major varieties from your type set and concentrate on the first nine coins I’ve mentioned. The main reason? Cost! The 1922/1 overdate 3d in just fine condition can cost as much as acquiring a choice or gem coin of each of the first nine coins I have mentioned.

Truly the path forward is up to you, when collecting a type set. I’d suggest thinking about the following before setting on the path of type collecting.

  • Define the type set you want to collect before you start. Research the series and costs of the coins you would like. It is better to know now that a set is likely to be out of reach because of cost or scarcity. Nothing kills interest quicker than lack of progress.
  • Define you budget and grade of coins you want to collect. You might go for a matched grade set (say VF) or a premium set (Choice or better).
  • Certain sets may give you an option in terms of strike. For example, you could easily collect post 1966 decimal coins in proof finish without having a huge outlay.
  • Don’t be restricted by what makes a ‘type’ set. You may like to collect the best grade coins issued from a certain country for a certain year. You may look for type coins with images that fit a theme that interests you (animals and military themes are popular).
  • Remember, this is supposed to be fun. If it stops being fun examine what you are doing and either revise your goals or move onto something else.

Posted in Collecting Coins

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