Key Date Coins: Definition & Examples

What Is a Key Date Coin?

A key date coin is an issue that boasts the lowest mintage in the series or has become the rarest coin in the series. ( In this context an “ consequence ” is a year-and-mintmark combination, such as 1916-D. ) The caution here is that sometimes a mint with the lowest report coinage may not be the rare publish. There are numerous “ coarse ” coins that are far scarce today than their same-series counterparts with lower mintages. This may be due to politics or private-sector mass melt or other reasons. overall rarity is one factor in determining a key mint, but there is another crucial system of measurement : measure. A key coin is normally, by definition of being the rarest coin, besides the priciest to obtain. however, in practice, the “ rule ” that the rare coin is besides the most valuable typically only extends vitamin a far as regular-issue business-strike coins .

How Collectors Define Key Date Coins

Every coin collector who enjoys building date-and-mintmark sets finally gets to the point that he or she needs to acquire the rarest, most expensive coins in the series to complete the solicitation. These tough, valuable coins are called key-date coins.

barely like the critical keystone in building a stone arch, a key mint is the ( normally individual ) coin that proves the most difficult to find. Yet, it ’ s the anchor piece that completes the located. In layman ‘s terms, key dates are coins that are the most authoritative toward completing a coin collection .coin collection Supplies for a mint collection Consider, for example, proof neologism and varieties. Far fewer collectors pursue proof issues at scale—especially when referencing pre-1960s coinage. And varieties ? There are many extremely rare varieties to be found among the democratic series. still, because so few collectors actively pursue particular varieties—certainly the obscure ones—a hobbyist may be able to buy a variety that has, say, fewer than 100 know examples for a sung. Another authoritative eminence is that some collectors define keys not good by the mint with the lowest coinage. Rather, they want the issue with the fewest-known examples in a particular grade range. These are known as conditional rarities or conditional keys and refer to the rare coins at a sealed grade point. One capital example of this is the 1945 Philadelphia Mercury dime with Full Bands details. While the 1945 Philly Mercury dime is normally gettable for melt measure in mobilize grades, this lapp exit is extremely rare—one of the rarest coins in the series—in the highest uncirculated grades and with tell of a full hit .

Examples of Key Coins

Any collector who is asked what a key-date coin is may mechanically think of the toughest coins in their front-runner serial. For example, the idiom “ key coin ” may immediately conjure up in the minds of a Lincoln cent enthusiast the prototype of a 1909-S VDB Lincoln penny. It is not only the rarest and most valuable regular-issue business-strike Lincoln penny but besides easily the most celebrated coin in american numismatics. such numismatic fame tends to accompany many 20th-century rarities. Another similarly popular 20th-century key coin ? The 1916-D Mercury dime, which has long stood as the confront of the Mercury dime bag series. besides long-familiar are the 1937-D 3-legged Buffalo nickel, 1916 Standing Liberty Quarter, and 1932-D and 1932-S Washington quarters. All are key coins for their respective serial. Let ’ s more closely probe these and early democratic 20th-century key dates :

Lincoln Cents Key Dates

The Lincoln cent series is easily the most widely collected United States coin. Minted since 1909, there are many rare dates in the series that collectors consider keys. 1909-S VDB – “ The ” key date of the series is the 1909-S VDB. widely considered a grail coin, entirely 484,000 were made at the San Francisco Mint before public cry over the prominence of couturier Victor David Brenner ’ south initials on the reverse of the coin caused sudden removal of the offending letters. The 1909-S VDB is collectible in any grade, even damaged to be sold as a “ filler. ” however, courteous specimens grading Good-4 or better fetch about $ 600 and up .1909 s vdb lincoln wheat cent 1909-S VDB Lincoln Wheat Cent 1914-D – While the 1909-S VDB penny was saved in big quantities from the beginning, many collectors of the day overlooked the rare 1914-D. They only noticed the difficulty in finding this date in the 1930s, when newly invented penny boards compelled collectors to build sets of the Lincoln cent series by date and mintmark. good 1,193,000 were struck, with values of $ 150 and up for Good-4 specimens. Other Lincoln cent keys – many collectors add the 1909-S and 1931-S to the roll of series key dates. Both coins craft for around $ 100 in Good-4. Some collectors besides include the highly popular and rare 1922 knit and 1955 doubled die variety show cents, which sell for about $ 500 and $ 1,100, respectively, in well-circulated grades .

Buffalo Nickels Key Dates

Another popular collectible, the Buffalo nickel, reigns as a beloved type that draws collectors of all ages. The obverse features a native American, while the turn back shows an american bison—a hairy four-legged land beast that many refer to as a “ buffalo. ” The Buffalo nickel series was in production from 1913 through 1938. 1913-S Type 2 – During the first base year of Buffalo nickel production, two types of overrule designs were used ; one shows the bison atop a mound ( Type 1 ). The other depicts the creature standing on a horizontal line ( Type 2 ). The 1913-S Type 2 is a very scarce consequence, with only 1,209,000 minted—very few of which were saved in collectible condition. Prices for this key date begin at around $ 350 in Good-4. few examples are known in depart because the date on the obverse of the mint easily wore off due to its high location on the shoulder of the native American. This spotlight was easily worn down in circulation. so, many 1913-S Type 2 examples may be out there but are unidentifiable due to their lack of a date .buffalo nickel mound type 1913-S Buffalo nickel ( Mound Type ) 1937-D Three-Legged – While this coin is considered a kind and is not necessary to complete a basic date-and-mintmark set, it is however widely sought by series enthusiasts and routinely included in the sets of more promote Buffalo nickel collectors. This variety show was unwittingly created when a mint actor over-polished the inverse of a damaged 1937-D nickel die. It shows entirely the hoof and upper pelvis of the bison ’ mho front stage, which is otherwise missing. Examples in Good-4 sell for approximately $ 600 and up .3-leg-buffalo-nickel 1937-D 3-Legged Buffalo nickel

Jefferson Nickels Key Dates

The Jefferson nickel has been in continuous production since 1938. While few collectors think of this series as boasting any veridical rarities, some scarce varieties can bring hundreds of dollars or more each. meanwhile, the regular-issue business-strike coins are largely common. The key dates of the serial, listed below, are gettable for less than $ 20 a objet d’art. 1939-D – This Denver cardinal date has a mintage of 3,514,000 and is identical difficult to find in circulation. Examples in average circulate discipline normally sell for about $ 12. 1950-D – Boasting the lowest-mintage of the series at just 2,630,030, the 1950-D nickel is a highly sought date that was saved in roll quantities early on. Uncirculated specimens can be had for around $ 17.

Mercury Dimes Key Dates

The Mercury dime bag series, officially named “ Winged Liberty Head ” dimes, were struck from 1916 through 1945. Most of the dates in this 90 % silver series are relatively common in circulate condition. however, there is a handful of scarce issues that collectors must obtain to complete a date-and-mintmark fit, with one date rare than the rest .1916 d mercury dime 1916-D Mercury dime 1916-D – The undisputed key of the series with a mintage of only 264,000. The 1916-D Mercury dime is considered one of the substantive numismatic rarities of the twentieth hundred. The popularity of this coin is possibly eclipsed only by the 1909-S VDB Lincoln penny. Prices for the 1916-D Mercury dime begin around $ 1,000 in Good-4 .

Standing Liberty Quarters Key Dates

The Standing Liberty quarter was one of the shorter-duration series of the twentieth century, in production from 1916 through 1930. All dates are desirable, though most of the issues produced during the last few years of the series are decidedly common in the lower grades. The lapp can ’ metric ton be said for the earlier issues, many of which are scarce. The rare of all is the freshman exit .1916 standing liberty quarter 1916 Standing Liberty quarter ( Type I ) 1916 – A bare 52,000 examples of the 1916 Standing Liberty quarter were made, and prices for this curio begin at a whack $ 2,500. It ’ s potential that the coin would have been more widely available for collectors than it is today if not for a critical design flaw that hampers the identification of many existing pre-1925 Standing Liberty quarters : the placement of the go steady. All Standing Liberty quarters made from 1916 through 1924 feature a high-set date that was well obliterated through circulation wear—much akin to the situation with Buffalo nickels. It ’ s probable that many dateless Type I Standing liberty quarters ( the invention used in 1916 ) being sold for little over melt value are, in fact, 1916 quarters .

Washington Quarters Key Dates

Struck since 1932, the Washington quarter serves as the workhorse of the american economy. Pre-1965 issues are made from 90 % eloquent and frankincense are highly desired by collectors today. The majority of these silver dates are quite common, though some dates are barely and demand great premiums. Among these are the two branch-mint key dates from the first year of the series. 1932-D – only 436,800 examples of the 1932-D were struck. While it is the slenderly more common of the two branch-mint issues of the year, it is rarer in uncirculated grades. Well-circulated examples sell for about $ 150, while in MS-60, prices start at about $ 1,000 .1932 d washington quarter 1932-D Washington quarter 1932-S – Rarer than the 1932-D is the 1932-S, the San Francisco Mint exit was struck to the tune of 408,000 pieces. The 1932-S trades for about $ 150 in modal circle condition, and MS-60 examples take about $ 500 .

Walking Liberty Half Dollars Key Dates

Considered by many to be one of the nation ’ s most beautiful coins, the Walking Liberty half dollar was struck from 1916 through 1947. The series is widely collected by date and mintmark, putting bang-up demand on the scarce issues. 1921-D – The rare of the business strikes in the series, the 1921-D Walking Liberty half dollar saw a mintage of barely 208,000 pieces. It commands about $ 500 in a mark of Fine-12. Mintages were low in the early 1920s due to a post-World War I receding that lightened need for new circulating neologism. This is barely one reason so many of the 1921 dates are scarce not equitable among Walking Liberty half dollars but all serial in production then .

Collecting Key Date Coins

This article is hardly exhaustive in its review of United States key date coins. It however illustrates some of the most important coins sought by those who collect the democratic 20th-century coins. Key dates are found among all United States union serial going back to the 1790s. As winder coins are both rare and valuable, it ’ mho prudent for the collector to be excessively timid when buying them. In a sidereal day and long time when counterfeits are more sophisticated than ever, it ’ s wise to buy key coins certified by a major third-party scaling firm and/or purchase your key coins from a trusted, reputable coin dealer. Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a journalist, editor program, and blogger who has won multiple awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild. He has besides authored numerous books, including works profiling the history of the United States Mint and United States neologism. More key date coin collecting articles from Gainesville Coins: Key Date Morgan Dollars : Collecting Tips & Prices key Date Peace Silver Dollars : Collecting Guide & Prices Key Date Barber Dimes : Price Guide Key Date Mercury Dimes : 1916-D, 1921, 1921-D Key Date Roosevelt Dimes : Collecting Tips

Washington Quarter Key Dates & Varieties Lincoln Wheat Penny : Values & Key Dates What Are the Key Dates for the Silver Eagle ?

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