Beyond The Coin: Filling A Gap In My Collection That Only A Book Can Fill

1981 Birth Year Coin Set

Like so many of us, I’ve been self-sequestering at home… And I’m looking at a dozen different things I can do around the house while I’ve got more time around here. Laundry. Cooking. Spring cleaning. Yard work. Coin collection? Umm….

Yes, I began pulling my coins out of the vault because, as much as I write about them for COINage I haven’t taken much time to actually look at my coins and audit my collection. What do I need to add? What can I sell? Are there any missing gaps?

Actually, I did notice a missing gap, and it wasn’t even a coin that could fill it. Rather, it’s a particular book. You see, for many years now, I’ve been working on a birth year type set of United States Mint products. I was born in 1981, so that means I entered this world between the issuance of Bicentennial coinage of the mid 1970s and the beginning of the modern commemorative coinage program the began in the early 1980s.

But there are still plenty of neat coins and coin sets that were issued by the United States Mint during the year I was born, including:

  • 1981 proof sets containing Type I and Type II proof coinage
  • 1981 uncirculated set
  • 1981 Philadelphia and Denver souvenir sets
  • 1981 Susan B. Anthony dollar souvenir set

There are also several medals and other products the U.S. Mint offered in 1981. Technically I could include the 1776-1976 proof and uncirculated sets since they were still in the product lineup when I was born. But I’m sticking to the 1981-dated items.

Now, you might think that as a die-hard coin collector all I’d probably care about are the coins themselves. Ah, but contraire mon frére. I’m not only a coin collector… I’m a collector of ephemera — vintage books, brochures, and pamphlets. Notice the proof and uncirculated sets brochures in my collection? Even that vintage-1981 U.S. Mint gift shop bag? I’m also looking for a 1981 Annual Report of the Director of United States Mint Report, too. I’ve been trying to find an original copy for ages.

My point? A coin collection doesn’t need to only include coins. It might be a collection of coins and all of the supporting items that help to tell the story behind these coins. Like, maybe, a circa-1979 U.S. Mint marketing pamphlet might provide some socioeconomic historical context for a collection of Susan B. Anthony dollars. Or a news clipping from the day of release for the Lincoln cent on August 2, 1909, can help transport the collector back to the day these now-universally familiar pennies debuted.

What interesting non-numismatic memorabilia do you think you could add to your coin collection to help better tell the story behind your coins? As you can see, thinking beyond the coin with your collection really can help make a neat coin set truly fascinating!


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