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Coins | 12.30.2020

Collector Strategy for 2021: Building a Centennial Year Set

As we enter the New Year, most of us are glad to put 2020 behind us. The events of the past twelve months have forever changed the landscape of numismatics. But in hindsight, it isn’t all bad news. Stay-at-home orders have allowed collectors to reinvent their collections. Taking the extra time to review, research, and reassess their holdings has made many better-fine-tuned collectors. During the upcoming year, U.S. Coins and Jewelry pledges to provide in-depth blueprints to guide coin enthusiasts. We strive to help build more meaningful and fulfilling collections and we start here with the 2021 Centennial Year Set.

Across the history of U.S. coinage, there are a number of years deemed transitional. This term refers to years when denominations undergo major design changes and the Mints produced multiple series types within a given year. This is different from type changes where a design may change minutely within a series, but rather two distinct series crossing over. 1921 was one such year, with the final Morgan dollar design giving way to the first year of issue for the Peace dollar design.

2021 Centennial Year

2021 Centennial Coin SetThe coming year will be the centennial of that event and an excellent year for collectors to focus on a centennial set. This strategy challenges collectors to find one example of all denominations for a particular year. You can buy preassembled mint sets from the 1960s and on, but the earlier years have to be individually assembled. The year 1921 is an excellent year to build as an economic downturn had lower demand from banks creating many lower mintage issues and thus each denomination is desirable to modern collectors. As with any date set, this group can be done in two ways, a date representation from each denomination and design, or a complete set with an example of each coin minted during the year. Regardless of the option you chose, here is a breakdown of each coin type and a quick discussion of each.


1921-P & S Lincoln Cents (Wheat back)

Only the Philadelphia and San Francisco Mints produced Lincoln Wheat Cents this year. The Philadelphia examples are notoriously weakly struck, but available in most conditions up to the superb gem grades. The 1921-S is much tougher and can prove challenging in all grades especially the better-circulated ones. Full detail examples can be a tough find with both the P-Mint and S-Mint examples struck with worn dies. The San Francisco emissions are quite scarce in “unc”, especially with the red designation. Collecting these in any grade better than choice or gem is virtually impossible.

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1921-P & S Buffalo Nickels

Like the cents, Buffalo Nickels were only struck in Philadelphia and San Francisco. The hubs and dies were reworked to fix the weakness that plagued earlier issues. These efforts are evident in both mint examples and both offer better clarity in central devices than preceding years. The P-Mint examples are plentiful and available in all conditions including the premium gem and better grades. Collectors should hold out for a full detailed example which can be had with some patience. The 1921-S is scarcer than the Philadelphia counterparts and full detail is a tougher find. Regardless, a sharply struck example can be had with some diligence.

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1921-P & D Mercury Dimes

The dimes of 1921 have the lowest mintages next to the classic 1916-D for the entire series. They were produced by only the Philadelphia and Denver Mints. The P-Mint examples are tough in all grades and can prove expensive in any of the Full Band grades. The Denver issues are also rare, but these were struck with excellent detail so while a scarce date overall, collectors looking for uncirculated examples should pay the premium for the full band.

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1921 Standing Quarter

The Philadelphia Mint was the only one to produce quarters for the year. The coin is better in all grades but available. Uncirculated coins are tough, but with some diligence and at a price, full head examples are to be had. Studies have shown the date to have the second-highest percentage of full head examples albeit from an overall smaller sampling. Often these coins are FH examples but show weaknesses in other places namely the date and shield. Circulated examples can also be a tougher find than expected but are also available with a little searching for the cost-conscious collector.

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1921-P, D & S Walking Liberty Halves

The halves of 1921 were struck in low quantities by all three operating mints. The scarcity of each is inherent to the small mintages. The avid collectors of the series look for detail across the high points of the design and all three of these prove challenging in this respect. Most are found with weakness seen in the head, hand, and reverse eagle leg. The Philadelphia is perhaps the best struck and one should seek out examples with good detail paying attention to the eagle’s leg. The Denver issues can be found with a good strike, but most are flatly struck and will still show some weakness in both left hand and eagle.  The San Francisco examples are by far the toughest and one of the keys to the Walking Liberty series. Finding an example with good luster and sharp strike can prove challenging and even the best will show some weakness on the reverse with only partial feathers showing.

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The Dollars

1921 Morgan Silver Dollar

1921 Morgan Silver Dollar

1921 Peace Silver Dollar

1921 Peace Silver Dollar

The dollars for the year are the impetus for this article. The year is the transitional year from Morgan to Peace designs. After the recreation of the dies, Morgans were produced in earnest by all three operating mints. The Denver issue is the only D-Mint Morgan and remains in heavy demand as such. All three mints are available and are easily found in all grades from XF to MS66. The San Francisco examples top out at the premium gem, but collectors looking for top quality will find Denver and Philadelphia examples available. The final dollar design was produced in December of the year and they are the high relief Peace dollar. One of the crowning achievements of the Mint, this coin was struck in small quantities and for a short run. They remain in high demand by Peace Dollar enthusiast and type collectors alike. While produced with great care, the luster is often vibrant, but most show weakness across the centers. The uniqueness of design coupled with the small mintage figures makes it one of U.S. numismatics highly sought after issues. 

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Enjoy Collecting Your 2021 Centennial Series

We hope you embark on this exciting and educational set. At U.S. Coins and Jewelry we look forward to working with you on this adventure or any of your other rare coin needs. Our qualified staff is ready to assist you with all you need in numismatics. If you don’t see it in inventory, call us at (713) 597-6367. We will use our decades of experience and vast wholesale network to reach out to our world-wide contacts and help you find the perfect coin.

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