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What’s A PDS Coin Set?


These 1943 Jefferson Nickels represent the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mints and are the kinds of coins that are typically included in PDS sets. Courtesy of PCGS TrueView. Click images to enlarge.

You may frequently encounter the term PDS coin set, or simply PDS set in your numismatic travels. Most hobbyists who have been collecting coins for a while know exactly what this means. But a newbie? In that case, the term PDS set may mean about as much as ABC set or XYZ set!

So, let’s explore what PDS set means and why it’s important to those who collect date-and-mintmark sets of coins from the 20th and 21st centuries.

What Does PDS Set Mean?

The phrase PDS set refers to a set of coins representing coinage from the three mints that operated during the bulk of the 20th century, including the Philadelphia (P), Denver (D), and San Francisco (S) Mints. In the vast majority of situations where the term PDS set comes up, it generally refers to a set of coins representing not just the three mints, but also encompassing the entire date run from start to finish (or present day) or a range of dates composing a short set.

S May Have At Least Two Meanings

At the core, PDS refers to Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco, but depending on the era of coin in question, the “S” could refer to business-strike coinage or proofs. The San Francisco Mint produced circulating business strikes with mintmarks from 1854 through 1955 and then again from 1968 through 1981, while the San Francisco Mint earned a modern moniker as the origin point for proof coins beginning in 1968.

While there is no industry-standard rule on usage, when the PDS phrasing is employed for describing modern sets – those mostly inclusive of coins struck since the 1960s – the S usually refers to the inclusion of proof coinage; this is often the case with series like Roosevelt Dimes, Washington Quarters, Kennedy Half Dollars, and Eisenhower Dollars. With Lincoln Cents, Jefferson Nickels, and Susan B. Anthony Dollars, the S may refer to either the business-strike issues, proofs, or both. For earlier sets, which would be those primarily struck prior to the 1950s, the S mintmark virtually always refers to the business strike examples (only a few pre-1960s proofs were struck with an S mintmark and are known as branch mint proofs).

Before You Buy PDS Sets

While the terms as discussed here refer to the most common general use of these phrases, it never hurts to verify with the coin dealer offering such a coin product exactly what they’re selling. As they say in carpentry, measure twice and cut once – a phrase that can be numismatically appropriated to mean know what you are buying before you buy it.

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