Assembling a Ten Piece Type Set of Coins From the Carson City Mint - Part One

Get on board for a wonderful ride through the process of assembling a set of Carson City coins that will bring years of enjoyment and possible financial gain.

Assembling a Ten Piece Type Set of Coins From the Carson City Mint

Serving it up Buffet Style

Part One

By Rusty Goe

Glance at a menu from a popular restaurant and notice the options for diners indecisive about what to order. Perhaps a nice juicy steak sounded good before arriving, but then the sight of a shrimp platter delivered to another table aroused the taste buds. While looking at the colorful pictures in the menu, the diner sees the yummy Baby Back Bar-B-Que ribs and does a double take. Decisions, decisions.

Alas, the friendly waitress points to the sampler plate that includes a small portion of steak, shrimp, ribs and for good measure, chicken. What a wonderful solution to a perplexing predicament for a ravenous palate. The diner may now feast on an assortment of tasty delights.

It is for this very reason that buffets are popular with many diners. Long lines of tantalizing culinary faire laid out for hungry souls to sample as many mouth-watering menu items as their appetite's delight (and their stomachs) can hold. These same voracious diners may on any given night choose a restaurant that offers one specific type of cuisine, however, while gorging at a buffet, they may experience such decadent pleasures as Chinese, Mexican, Italian and American dishes.  Once in a while, variety is the spice of life.

So it is with coin collecting. You may be contemplating a collection of coins from the Carson City Mint, or perhaps just adding a few pieces of "CC" coins to your portfolio.  Which direction should you proceed? Silver, gold, dollars, dimes, or...? There are ten different types to choose from, what is your pleasure? To many collectors, they all seem so fascinating, whereas some people devote their lives to one specialized series.

Assuming that you have not yet made a decision and are looking for a suggestion, this article will attempt to offer you a little guidance. Based on many years as a coin dealer, and experiencing the occasion of dozens, if not hundreds of collectors, asking how to begin collecting "CC" coins, I have found that the 10-piece type set brings great satisfaction.

This is the buffet approach, or sampler plate, if you will. With a 10-piece type set you will enjoy a sample of all that the Carson City Mint has to offer. Upon completion, you will not only have learned much about the particular coins in general; but also about the comparative rarity of "CC" coins versus coins from the other mints, as well as the history of the times in which they were made.

Essential to any collecting endeavor is knowledge of the set composition. A 10-piece Carson City type set consists of the following coins:

Seated Liberty dime (1871-1878) Trade dollar (1873-1878)
20-cent piece (1875-1876) Morgan dollar (1878-1893)
Seated Liberty quarter (1870-1878) Gold half eagle (1870-1893)
Seated Liberty half dollar (1870-1878) Gold eagle (1870-1893)
Seated Liberty silver dollar (1870-1873) Gold double eagle (1870-1893)

Of the ten different types, the three gold denominations are the only coins produced during the entire lifetime of the Carson City Mint, 1870 to 1893. There were a few years in which production halted, but of the 24 years of operation, each of the gold denominations was struck in 19, although not all in the same years.

Seated Liberty dimes were introduced in 1871 at the Carson Mint and ceased production in 1878. Seated Liberty quarters and half dollars were minted between 1870 and 1878, with no quarters being struck in 1874. Seated Liberty silver dollars were only minted in four years before the Coinage Act of 1873 brought production to a halt. The short-lived 20-cent piece series survived only two years of production, 1875 and 1876, resulting in the 1876-CC 20-cent piece becoming one of the rarest issues in U. S. coinage history. Another short-lived series, the Trade dollar, minted between 1873 and 1878 at Carson City, offers six different dates for the collector. Rounding out the group is one of the most heavily produced coins from the Carson City Mint, the Morgan silver dollar, extending from 1878 through the end of coinage operations in 1893, interrupted for three years from 1886 to 1888.

With a clear knowledge of the different types the set consists of, the collector must narrow the choices based on several factors, price range, date selection, and grades. Beginning at the top and working down, the ultimate 10-piece Carson City type set would consist of the following coins:

  • 1873-CC Without Arrows dime NGC MS-65

  • 1876-CC 20-cent piece PCGS MS-66

  • 1873-CC Without Arrows quarter NGC MS-66

  • 1870-CC half dollar PCGS MS-62

  • 1871-CC Seated dollar PCGS MS-64

  • 1878-CC Trade dollar NGC MS-66

  • 1889-CC Morgan dollar PCGS MS-68

  • 1876-CC half eagle PCGS MS-66

  • 1874-CC eagle NGC MS-65

  • 1870-CC double eagle PCGS AU-53

This mind-blowing group of dazzling numismatic treasures has an estimated price tag of between $3,700,000 and $4,000,000, give or take a few bucks.

Of course, only one fortunate collector could own this set at a time since all of the coins are "Pop 1s" (only one example known in the grade). And in the case of the

1873-CC Without Arrows dime, only one specimen exists, period.

Most collectors do not participate at this grand and privileged level, and fortunately, the Carson City series presents opportunities in many budgetary categories. Descending the price ladder, you might consider the next inspiring set of coins:

  • 1873-CC With Arrows dime NGC MS-65

  • 1876-CC 20-cent piece PCGS MS-65

  • 1870-CC Seated quarter NGC MS-64

  • 1878-CC Seated half dollar NGC MS-66

  • 1871-CC Seated dollar PCGS MS-63

  • 1876-CC Trade dollar PCGS MS-65

  • 1891-CC Morgan dollar PCGS MS-68PL

  • 1870-CC half eagle NGC MS-62

  • 1870-CC eagle PCGS AU-55

  • 1870-CC double eagle NGC AU-50

The estimated suggested retail price for this impressive set of coins is $1,500,000, still in the upper echelon of numismatic pursuits.

Before you throw in the towel, consider this fine selection of desirable coins with the "CC" mintmark:

  • 1878-CC Seated dime NGC MS-66

  • 1875-CC 20-cent piece PCGS MS-66

  • 1876-CC Seated quarter PCGS MS-66

  • 1876-CC Seated half dollar PCGS MS-66

  • 1870-CC Seated dollar NGC MS-61

  • 1875-CC Trade dollar PCGS MS-64

  • 1885-CC Morgan dollar PCGS MS-66

  • 1890-CC half eagle PCGS MS-64

  • 1891-CC eagle NGC MS-64

  • 1893-CC double eagle NGC MS-63

This splendid set would bring years of delight to even the most discriminating collectors for an estimated cost of $120,000.

Promises of countless opportunities for hobbyists with a hunger to experience the joys of collecting Carson City coins bring us to the next set, consisting of:

  • 1875-CC "Above Bow" Seated dime PCGS MS-64

  • 1875-CC 20-cent piece PCGS MS-63

  • 1877-CC Seated quarter MS-64

  • 1877-CC Seated half dollar PCGS MS-63

  • 1870-CC Seated dollar PCGS AU-53

  • 1877-CC Trade dollar PCGS MS-62

  • 1878-CC Morgan dollar PCGS MS-64

  • 1890-CC eagle PCGS MS-60

  • 1890-CC double eagle PCGS AU-55

How does $20,000 sound? Some of you may be thinking "well, at least we’re getting there."

At this point, it might be time to consider the lowest end of the collecting pole in regards to a 10-piece type set of coins from the Carson City Mint. Keep in mind that there are dozens, if not hundreds of price levels for this set between the lowest to the ultimate; and remember, with "CC" coins there are no losers. Ownership of any examples with this special mintmark will bring pleasure; and there is always the opportunity to upgrade as you journey along the path to your goal. The following set of coins is "Raw" in terms of grading, in contrast to "Slabbed" or certified:

  • 1877-CC Seated dime VF

  • 1875-CC 20-cent piece F

  • 1876-CC Seated quarter VF

  • 1877-CC Seated half dollar VF

  • 1870-CC Seated dollar VG

  • 1875-CC Trade dollar F

  • 1883-CC Morgan dollar XF

  • 1893-CC half eagle F

  • 1891-CC eagle F

  • 1890-CC double eagle VF

You can assemble a similar group of coins for approximately $2800, assuming of course that they are accurately graded.

Is it possible to build a set for less than $2800? Without a doubt, just so you realize that the lower you descend the pricing ladder, the poorer the quality that the coins will be. A rock bottom price would probably be in the neighborhood of $1750. You would not be impressed by the coin's eye appeal, but the ten "CC" mintmarks would still bring satisfaction.

There really are so many options to explore when considering building a 10-piece "CC" type set, not least of which would be one featuring different varieties available within the full range of Carson City coinage. An example would be the following assemblage of coins:

  • 1875-CC "Below Bow" Seated dime PCGS MS-64

  • 1875-CC "Strong Strike" 20-cent PCGS MS-63

  • 1873-CC With Arrows Seated quarter F-15

  • 1873-CC Without Arrows Seated half PCGS XF-45

  • 1870-CC "Wide Spaced CC" Seated dollar PCGS XF-45

  • 1876-CC "Double Die Rev." Trade dollar PCGS AU-58

  • 1890-CC "Tail Bar" Morgan dollar PCGS AU-58

  • 1880-CC "With Tears" half eagle XF-45

  • 1892-CC "Clashmarks Rev." eagle PCGS XF-45

  • 1875-CC TY II "TWENTY D." double eagle PCGS XF-45

The estimated cost for this interesting set is $19,500; and of course, there are many variations on the theme.

You can virtually stretch the limits of your imagination and create a set that suits your fancy. A few collectors may be so inclined to center their type set around a specific date and fill in the missing pieces with dates and denominations not available in the primary year set. For example:

  • 1878-CC Seated dime PCGS MS-64

  • 1875-CC 20-cent piece PCGS MS-64

  • 1870-CC Seated quarter PCGS VF-30

  • 1870-CC Seated half dollar PCGS VF-35

  • 1870-CC Seated dollar PCGS XF

  • 1875-CC Trade dollar PCGS MS-62

  • 1882-CC Morgan dollar PCGS MS-64

  • 1870-CC half eagle PCGS VF-25

  • 1870-CC eagle PCGS VF-25

  • 1870-CC double eagle PCGS VF-20

The core year in this set is obviously 1870, and the double eagle, accounting for at least $100,000 by itself, heavily influences the estimated price tag of $150,000.



One factor significantly influencing both the desirability and limitations of 10-piece "CC" type sets is the surviving populations of each denomination within the series. The number of sets that can possibly be assembled is limited by the denomination with the lowest quantity of surviving specimens. In this case, the Seated Liberty silver dollar is the key, with an estimated surviving population of 1,200 or fewer pieces. Take a minute to review the following table listing all denominations in the Carson City series and their estimated surviving populations.

Estimated Surviving Populations of All
Denominations from the Carson City Mint

  • Seated Dimes 184,000 or fewer

  • 20-cent pieces 10,000 or fewer

  • Seated quarters 19,100 or fewer

  • Seated half dollars 20,300 or fewer

  • Seated dollars 1,200 or fewer

  • Trade dollars 12,000 or fewer

  • Morgan dollars 4,500,000 or fewer

  • Half eagles 9,300 or fewer

  • Eagles 9,600 or fewer

  • Double eagles 27,500 or fewer

Based on these estimates, no more than 1,200 10-piece "CC" type sets could be completed. Even if the next lowest surviving denominations were considered, the number of possible sets would be limited to 9,300 to 10,000.

This is one of the chief factors making this set so attractive to collectors; there are enough possible sets available to make a game of it, but not enough to ever flood the market. It is truly a fair trade environment offering endless profit potential. When you complete your 10-piece Carson City type set you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have become one of the privileged souls to achieve this rewarding accomplishment. You will be a custodian of the coins in your set that eventually will be passed on to future collectors.  Every one of the fortunate few successful enough to build a 10-piece "CC" type set will thoroughly enjoy the fruits of their labor.

End of Part One

©2005 CDN Inc, reprinted with permission; Coin Dealer Newsletter