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Too Many Varieties
November 17, 2010

How many different varieties of coins can collectors keep track of?

I have raised this issue in the past because the three varieties of the American Eagles seemed to be confusing to many people.

One of the benefits of the Eagle planchet shortage was the elimination of the “W” collector version of the coins. It didn’t help that the Mint uses the term “uncirculated” in their name.

The standard bullion coin issue without the mintmark are just as uncirculated as the more expensive Mint collector version even if the Mint treats the planchet differently.

For most people the presence or absence of the mintmark is the only way to tell them apart.

Yesterday I received an e-mail where the sender did not know or was confused by the fact that the cents in last year’s collector proof sets and mint sets, etc., were made of the old 95-percent copper alloy that was used for the first Lincoln cents struck in 1909.

The idea of the copper composition is embedded in the 2005 authorizing law. It was considered to be a little something extra for collectors.

Something special for collectors sounds good, but from now on collectors will confuse the uncirculated mint set pieces with the standard copper-plated zinc circulation issues especially if they are out of the original packaging.

These little extra treats might give me something to write about it, but are they worth it to the hobby in the long run?

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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