PCGS Set Registry Rules
Welcome to the PCGS Set RegistrySM. Each series in the Registry is divided into two parts. The initial page lists the average grade, state of completion, and set rating of each set in two categories, All-Time Finest (ATF) and Current. The ATF contains both current and retired sets. The Current category contains only current sets. If the set is listed as "viewable," the second page displays each item registered in the set and, if added by the owner of the set, images and descriptions. Members may make their own comments about their sets. PCGS experts reserve the right to edit set names, comments, and coin descriptions.
All Time Finest and Current Sets
Each set listed as current is comprised of PCGS coins certified in accordance with our usual standards. A PCGS coin is defined as a coin CURRENTLY encased in a PCGS holder.
In order to list your set as current, you must own and have physical possession of the coins you are listing or be an agent with permission to represent a collection. (Possession may include items being held in your safe deposit box or items which you have consigned to auction.) A coin is not considered owned by you if you have sold it to another, regardless of buyback or return policies. Furthermore, this coin should be removed from your inventory and sets. If the same coin should return to your possession and you regain ownership, you then have the option to relist it in the registry.
You should retire a set from Current status when you have sold or broken up your set. To retire a set, simply delete the entire set and inventory in "My Sets." (Note that if you delete items from your set one by one, it will also reduce your ATF set completion.) If your set was at least 90% complete at the time of deletion, it will remain in the All Time Finest category and will be listed with a "viewable" status. If you still own the coins in a retired set that was 90% complete at the time of retirement and the set remains in the All Time Finest category, those same certification numbers cannot be re-used by you in a new set you may start in the same category. Should you wish to re-use those coins, please contact customer service first to delete the All Time Finest set from the Registry.
Should you attempt to list a coin and you receive an error message telling you that the coin is currently owned by another registrant, please use the automatic email feature that will send an email to the former owner asking for release. Your name will not be sent to the other member. Please allow three business days for the former owner to release the coin. If, after three business days, the inventory item has not been removed, please submit a scan of the front and back of the item to [email protected] and the item will be removed for you. Registrants are urged to delete their sets or coins from the registry soon after sets or coins are sold in order to release the certification numbers for other registrants who may have purchased the items and wish to register them. If after 3 business days from receiving a removal request you have not deleted a sold coin from your set(s) and inventory and your set is 90% complete or greater, your entire set will be retired. Contact Set Registry customer service to have your set reinstated to active.
Current sets that are not at least 10% complete and have not been updated for at least 12 months will be unpublished from the Registry. The set will not be publishable until it has been updated.
PCGS Set Registry Set Definitions
The following are the collecting options for coin collections listed in the PCGS Set Registry. The first group of sets listed below is for those collectors who want to specialize in an individual series, such as Morgan dollar, Buffalo nickels, $20 St. Gaudens, etc. You pick the series or type of coin you want to collect, then use the definitions below to decide how simple or complex you want your collection to be, based on your numismatic desires and budget. The sets are listed with the simplest, i.e. least number of coins required, sets first.
- Date Set – The Date Set includes one coin for each year in the series. Any mintmark and any variety can be used as the “date” in your set. For example, a Morgan dollar Date Set could have an 1899-S, 1900-O/CC, and a 1901 for the 1899, 1900, and 1901 in the Date Set.
- Basic Set (Date and Mintmark) – The Basic Set includes one of each date and mintmark in the series. For the most of the Basic Sets, varieties can be used in place of a non-variety coin.
- Classic Set (Date, Mintmark, and Major Varieties) - The Classic Set includes one of each date, mintmark, and major variety, with the major varieties being those that have been recognized since the early 1970s. Examples of these long time recognized varieties would be the 3-legged Buffalo nickel, 1955 double die Lincoln cent, and the 1918/7-S Standing Liberty quarter. These sets are dated through 1964. The purpose of the Classic Set is to allow your current collection to be compared to the great collections of the past, such as the Louis Eliasberg collection, the only “complete” collection of U.S. coins ever assembled.
- Major Variety Set (Date, Mintmark, and Major Varieties) – The Major Variety Set includes one of each date, mintmark, and major variety currently recognized by PCGS. Major varieties are defined as coins that are easily recognized as having major differences from other coins of the same design, type, date, and mint. Generally, major varieties are significant and can be easily seen with the naked eye. And where there are various “states” to a variety, the major variety is the state which is considered the strongest by the collecting community. For example, there are three states, or types, for the 1936 Double Die Obverse Lincoln cent. Only the Type 1, the strongest and most apparent of the three states, is considered a major variety and is included in the PCGS Major Variety Set for Lincoln cents.
Note that new varieties are recognized each year and the number of coins needed for a Major Variety Set may increase over time. Also note that it is possible for varieties to be “delisted,” i.e. removed from inclusion in the Major Variety set. Sometimes varieties are misattributed by the numismatic community. For example, for years the pricing guides listed an 1869/8 Indian cent. Experts now state that this is not a 9 over 8, but “recut 9,” or “9 over 9.’ This minor recutting is a much more common occurring variety and is not considered major.
- Complete Variety Set (Date, Mintmark, and all Varieties) – The Complete Variety Set includes one of each date, mintmark, and all major and minor varieties recognized by PCGS. Using the example of the 1936 Double Die Obverse Lincoln cent mentioned under the Major Variety Set above, for the Major Variety Set, only the Type One 1936 DDO cent is allowed in and necessary for the set. However, in the Complete Variety Set, all three types of 1936 DDO Lincoln cents are required for the set. Note that for early series, such as Large cents, Bust half dollars, Half cents, etc., the Complete Variety Set includes all die varieties as listed in the most recognized reference books.
Pre-PCGS All-Time Finest Sets
Many of the “All-time finest” sets are comprised of PCGS coins, while others predated PCGS and were made up of uncertified coins. For these pre-PCGS sets, the coins are listed as either "PCGS graded," "PCGS grade," "PCGS estimated grade," “Estimated grade,” or “Assumed grade” which are defined as follows:
- PCGS graded - This refers to a coin that was graded by PCGS prior to the auction sale of the collection, i.e. the coin was sold at the auction in a PCGS holder.
- PCGS grade - This refers to a coin that was graded by PCGS sometime after the auction sale of the collection. The coin may or may not still be in a PCGS holder.
- PCGS estimate grade - This refers to a coin that has been examined recently by David Hall, John Dannreuther, Gordon Wrubel, or PCGS graders and the "PCGS estimate grade" is what we feel the coin would most likely grade at PCGS if submitted for grading.
- Estimated grade - Estimated grades are used for great collections that were put together and/or sold before PCGS was in existence. The estimated grades are based on auction catalog notes of PCGS founders David Hall, Gordon Wrubel, and John Dannreuther, all of whom attended many of the great auctions held in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s and viewed the actual coins. The estimated grades also are derived from input from the PCGS Advisory Board. For older collections sold at auction prior to 1970, the estimated grade is a guess based on the cataloguers description.
- Assumed grade - Collecting proofs and circulation strikes separately has only been common practice for the past 25 years or so. Prior to that, collectors would mix proofs and circulation strikes, often having proofs for their Philadelphia mints and circulation strikes for their other mints. For some of the great collections we list, such as the Louis Eliasberg collection, we will add an "Assumed grade." This will allow you to more easily compare your sets with the great early collections. For the "Assumed grade" we always use the grade that would have been readily available to the collector at that time.
Coins certified as genuine by PCGS but ungraded can be used in all competitive sets except for Low Ball. The grade for genuine-no grade coins will default to P01. PCGS sample coins which do not carry a unique certification number and are listed as "Genuine-PCGS Sample" in the PCGS Cert Verification do not qualify for set registration.
PCGS grades some coins through the Mint Error program. These include coins such as planchet clips and off-metal strikings that have been unintentionally struck by the Mint. Before the Variety Attribution program was started in 2006, the Mint Error program also included intentionally struck coins many of which are Fivaz Stanton die varieties. Mint errors are designated by an "E" in front of the coin number on the PCGS holder insert. Mint errors can be added to "My Inventory" and the Collectors Showcase, but cannot be used in competitive sets. In order to be used in competitive sets, Mint Error "E" coins must be submitted for re-holdering under the Variety Attribution program at the prevailing additional fee.
BU and PR Coins Without Numeric Grades
PCGS will grade coins without a numeric grade through its bulk grading program. These coins will have Brilliant Uncirculated or Gem Proof on the insert of the coin's holder with no numeric grade listed. These coins cannot be used in competitive sets in the PCGS Set Registry. To use these coins in competitive sets, you must submit them for re-grade through the modern coin service level. Click here for more information.
PCGS Plus Grades
Coins that have been graded with a plus grade receive a .5 increase in the grade. In other words, a coin graded 65+ will be calculated as 65.5 in the Registry.
Everyman sets do not allow any coin with a grade higher than 58+. Allowable coins are graded 58+ or less can be designated a circulation strike or proof.
Buying and Selling Policy
The PCGS Set Registry is to be used to list collections of coins. By the sheer nature of the Registry, items listed are invariably bought and sold. However, using terminology such as "for sale or trade," "auction0207," or listing an item with a price is not permitted. The Registry is self-policing. Should you see an infraction of this policy, please report it to [email protected].
Grade Points, Set Ratings and Weighting
After each set is registered, its "Grade Points" are determined. In unweighted sets, the grade points are the average grade of the coins in the set, plus or minus bonuses or deductions (see below).
For weighted sets, the rarest coin in the set may have a weight of "10" and the most common coin will have a weight of "1." The grades are multiplied by the weights. That total is divided by the total number of coin weights. That gives the "Weighted Grade Point Average." The "Set Rating" is achieved by dividing the weighted grade sum by the total sum of the weights in the entire set. All sets are listed in order of their Set Rating.
Sets are date-stamped according to the first date they are submitted for publication. In case of a tie the set which reaches the number one spot with 100% completion first will remain in the number one spot regardless of the set's first validation date. The following logic is used:
- Highest rating NOW
- Highest rating EVER
- Highest rating ever DATE
As an example:
- Set #1 with the highest rating goes to the top slot.
- If set #2 ties set #1's rating, then set #1 remains in the top slot regardless of the first or last published date.
- If set #2 updates set to beat #1's rating, then #2 will take the top slot.
- If set #1 ties #2, #2 remains in the top slot because that set achieves the highest rating first.
Points for Bonuses or Deductions
When considering the ranking of circulated struck Copper Coinage, Mercury Dimes, Roosevelt Dimes, Franklin Half Dollars, and Jefferson Nickels bonus points or deductions may apply for desirable designations such as Red Brown, Red, Full Band, Full Bell Lines, and Full Steps. Mercury Dimes designated "Full Bands” may receive 2 bonus points, for example. Depending on the set, coins with these desirable designations will receive bonus points or in some cases, coins will receive deductions if they do not have the designation. In every set where bonus points or deductions apply, the set composite will list the bonus points or deductions for the set.
For proof coinage, Red Brown Copper, Red Copper, Cameo and Deep Cameo designations may receive bonus points or non-Cameo and non-Deep Cameo coins may receive deductions. Top Pop coins also receive bonus points. Coins with populations of 1 and none graded higher receive 2 bonus points. Coins that are tied for the finest known, receive 1 bonus point. Should the populations change, the bonus points will be adjusted or removed. Not all set composites are eligible for Top Pop bonus points. The following table explains how the bonus points for certain categories and suffixes are calculated:
|Bonus Points for Top Populations|
|Coins tied for the highest grade with none graded higher = 1 bonus point. Coins that are the single highest graded with none graded higher = 2 bonus points.|
|Composite Type||Bonus Points|
|Basic||Yes, all the populations of coin numbers in a slot are added together. Then, based on those numbers, the Top Pops bonuses will be allocated.|
(using same rules as above)
|Low Ball||Yes - Lowest graded or tied for lowest graded Top Pop|
|Everyman||Yes - All grades over 58+ are eliminated. Pop bonus points are awarded to coins with top pops graded 58+ or lower.|
|Coin Numbers with Suffixes||Bonus Points|
|FB (Mercury, Roosevelt dimes)||Pop bonus points for top FB. Non-FB coins do not qualify.|
|FH (Standing Liberty quarters)||Pop bonus points for top FH. Non-FH coins do not qualify.|
|FL (Franklin Half dollars)||Pop bonus points for top FL. Non-FL coins do not qualify.|
|FS (Jefferson nickels)||Pop bonus points for top FS. Non-FS coins do not qualify.|
|BN, RB, RD (Copper MS)||Pop bonus points for top RD. If no RDs exist, then top RB. If no RDs or RBs exist, then top BN.|
|BN, RB, RD, CA, DC (Copper proof)||BN and RB don’t count unless there are no RD, CA or DC for the date. Pop bonus points for top DC. If no DCs exist, then top CA. If no CAs exist, then top RD.|
|CA, DC (Non-copper proof)||Pop bonus points for top grade. If different suffixes are tied for finest, then DC trumps CA which trumps non-CA.|
|PL, DM (Morgan dollars)||Pop bonus points for top grade. If different suffixes are tied for finest, then DM trumps PL which trumps non-PL. See CA, DC.|
|BM, BC, BD (Branch mint proof)||Pop bonus points for top grade, before BC and BD bonuses are added. If different suffixes are tied for finest, then BD trumps BC which trumps non-BC. See CA, DC.|
The calculation for bonuses or deductions is as follows:
(Grade + Bonus) x Weight
(Grade – Deduction) x Weight
Coins Minted During the Year
New coins minted during the year, such as Jefferson Nickels, Roosevelt Dimes, and American Eagles, will be added to set composites as optional coins beginning in February and throughout the year as they are minted. In January of the following year, these coins will be required as part of the set. This policy allows all registrants working on modern sets ample time to obtain coins released by the mint during the year.
The PCGS Set Registry is a work in progress. Occasionally, a coin in a set originally marked as "optional" may be changed to be included as part of the required coins or vice versa. Also, coins may be added or subtracted from a set. These changes may affect a registrant's overall GPA and rating. PCGS reserves the right to make changes with or without the consent of participating members.
Online Registration is Free
There are no fees to register your set. Simply log-on, add your PCGS-graded inventory, and start your set(s). Customer Service is available to answer any questions you may have. If you do not have access to a computer we will be glad to enter your coins for you for a minimal data entry fee. Please contact [email protected] for more information on this service.