US Coins

Market Analysis: ANA gets into the registry set collecting craze

Registry set coins continue to bring strong prices at auction, exciting some collectors who love this competitive segment of the hobby, and baffling others who don’t get why tiny improvements in quality for common coins can add zeroes.

Even the American Numismatic Association is getting in on registry set action, announcing on Jan. 28 that it will partner with Numismatic Guaranty Corp. to develop an ANA registry, writing, “ANA members will be eligible to compete for prizes valued at more than $20,000,” when the awards are launched at the August 2021 ANA World’s Fair of Money show. 

Two recent auction results illustrate how common coins in extremely high grades can bring extraordinary prices.

At a Jan. 26 GreatCollections auction, a 1943-S Lincoln cent graded Mint State 68+ by Professional Coin Grading Service and bearing a green Certified Acceptance Corp. sticker sold for $23,626.12. A week earlier on Jan. 19, a 1945-D Jefferson 5-cent piece graded MS-68+ full steps by PCGS sold for $16,312.50.

Both of these coins reflect World War II in their compositions. 1943 cents were struck at the Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco Mints on zinc-coated steel planchets as copper was used for the war effort. Typically, massive prices for 1943 cents are seen only for examples erroneously struck on bronze planchets intended for 1942 or 1944 cents. The zinc-coated steel is prone to spots and corrosion, but top-graded examples are seen with some regularity.

Heritage offered two graded MS-68 by PCGS, both with CAC stickers, that realized $3,840 and $3,480 at its recent Florida United Numismatists auctions in Orlando. PCGS has graded 115 1943-S Lincoln cents in MS-68, with just two in MS-68+ that are the finest-certified at the service. Nice MS-67 representatives are available for under $200 with MS-67+ ones selling for under $400 at the FUN auctions. 

Wartime Jefferson 5-cent coins were struck between 1942 and 1945 on planchets that were 56 percent copper, 35 percent silver and 9 percent manganese, eliminating nickel, which was a critical war material. To differentiate these from the typical 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel planchets, P, D and S Mint marks were prominently placed above Monticello on the reverse. 

PCGS has graded 116 1945-D Jefferson 5-cent coins in MS-67, 21 in MS-67+, five in MS-68 and just one in MS-68+ with full steps designation. Last year, an MS-67 example brought $361, while Heritage sold one of the then just four graded MS-68 full steps at its summer ANA auction for $9,000.  

Both the 1943-S cent and 1945-D 5-cent piece saw huge mintages, and many were saved in Mint State grades. Finding even high-grade examples isn’t a problem, but as competitive registry sets grow in popularity, how much higher can prices for these top-pop pieces climb?  

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