Having built many of the FINEST EVER Collections (MS Half Dimes, MS+PR Barber Dimes, Dollars 1794-1921S, $3 MS, $10 Indians and Saints, etc), I have earned the right to comment with authority about GEM sets. Recently I have seen a very disturbing trend among collectors. Some want to play this registry game so bad and be top guns they include coins that never ever should be considered for a great set. It is my strong opinion, adding one bad coin creates a cancer that affects the rest of the collection.
My ideology has always been to leave the hole blank rather than to fill it with an inferior coin. A blank hole does NOT decrease the sets value in any way. By putting say a cleaned or re-toned coin in for a date that does not exist, in my strong opinion DOES DEVALUE the collection. That one coin spreads its cancer of being ugly and not proper for the set. The cancerous coin will actually draw attention away from the great coins. It certainly adds NO value even in terms of calling a set complete. If you are trying to build a top quality set, then EVERY coin MUST remain TRUE to that ideal.
There is no challenge to adding a bad coin. In fact, the reason why you can add that bad coin-most people do NOT want it in their sets.
To clarify, I will put in coins where the problems are minor or its just a matter of opinion. I will NEVER EVER place a re-toned, cleaned, or grossly over graded coin in ANY top sets I build. I’d much rather have the hole. The Registry race is not always worth the effort. After all, its the quality of each coin in the set that creates the value-NOT the completeness. In fact, as the rest of the set dazzles buyers, the fact there is a missing rarity becomes a non issue.
Early Gold is the worst area by far I see this happen, followed by Saints and most other 20th Century Gold, then silver Bust coins.
You are ALWAYS better waiting. Do not feel you need to place a cancerous coin in your set. It will only cost you more down the road when you find out the resale value of a bad coin isn’t what you thought it would be. Its not worth placing a bad coin in any set even if its just a short term filler. ALWAYS hold out for the last coin you for that date.
Any questions or comments, please email me direct:

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