An Easy Collection
So you think you might want to start a coin collection and haven’t decided where to begin. I have a suggestion for a collection that will be fairly inexpensive and yet have some intrinsic value in the silver content, too.
My suggestion, for a good starting point, is the Roosevelt dime. To make it even easier, you could divide it into two sets—the silver coins in the series, 1946-1964, and the silver clad coins from 1965 to date.
This series began in 1946, shortly after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The dime is an appropriate place for FDR. As a polio victim, he had a close connection to the March of Dimes, a charity campaign to solve childhood diseases.First, the silver portion. A set of 90% silver Roosevelt dimes consists of about 51 dimes. At today’s melt value of silver, these tiny pellets of silver are each worth about $2. So, a minimum price of any silver dime will be about this amount. Most of these coins in nearly perfect uncirculated condition can be purchased from dealers for $3 to $5 each. The exceptions to this rule are the 1949 S, the 1950 S, and the 1951 S. These three will run you from $50 to $100 for all three in uncirculated condition. A nice set of the silver Roosevelts, in uncirculated condition, will run you about $150 to $200.
For the modern clad coins, many of these can be found in excellent condition from pocket change. Since they have no silver content, they have no intrinsic silver value. You could pursue this set simply for the pleasure of collecting them. There are about 100 of these to look for. Again, most of these are easily accessible, for almost no cost.
There is one interesting exception to this set, though. In 1996, the mint produced a mint set with one unusual coin in it. For some reason, they included a 1996 W dime in the set. The “W” stands for the West Point, New York mint, where many of our modern commemorative, non-circulating coins are made. Since there were less than 1.5 million of these sets, the 1996 W dime is pretty scarce. The book value on one is about $12-$20. The complete 1996 mint set lists for $15 or so; if you purchase the set for the W dime, make sure it is included in the set in its separate tiny cellophane packet. This is the only W mint coin actually designed to circulate!
If you decided to collect all of the Roosevelts, the search for proof dimes will present its own challenge. Proof coins are specially produced coins specifically for collectors. Proof sets are sold by the mint nearly every year. You can raid your proof sets for your dimes, or find proof dimes that someone else has broken out of proof sets. Rarely do you find one in circulation. I believe most of your proof coins can be had for $5 or less. Proof coins will have a much shinier, reflective finish than the regular dimes.