Mail Bag – Should I Break Up Uncirculated Sets

Today’s Mail Bag question comes from Paul (who kindly told me he was a fellow Coloradan). They ask about Uncirculated coin sets and if they should keep them intact as they come from the Mint or break them up to add to their collection.


Greetings from [redacted], Colorado. I have a question about uncirculated sets. Do you break them up or do you keep them in their holders that come from the mint?

I like having all my coins cataloged in holders and I have a lot of uncirculated sets. I’ve been thinking about opening them so I can catalog them. Do you think that is a good idea? What do you do?



Paul, chances are that if you ask ten different collectors, you will get a 50-50 split on this question. I, personally, happen to be in the break-them-up camp. Every year I buy an Uncirculated Coin Set from the United States Mint. Every year, I break up that set to individually catalog the coins in it. I’ve done this for years and, in fact, have purchased older sets so I can add those individual coins to my notebooks. For me, one of my goals is to have a complete set of every coin individually in my collection from every year. That is how I like to collect coins so my efforts generally focus on making that happen. For example, I recently bought a 1981 Uncirculated Set fundamentally because I needed one coin in that set: The 1981-D Susan B. Anthony Dollar. That single coin was the last coin I needed in Mint State to completely my entire set of SBA’s. I just so happen that buying the set was not that much more than buying the individual coin. And, for that matter, it also allowed me to add a 1981-P Kennedy Half Dollar to my collection, another coin I needed.

There are some however who argue that Uncirculated Sets should be collected themselves and should not be broken up. The arguement is that this is how the coins were sold by the Mint and should be kept in that state. Further, some uncirculated sets are rare and need to be kept intact on that merit alone. I think it is a fair argument and comes down to something I have written about here time and again. Numismatics is an individual hobby that happens in a community. You have to decide what you want to collect and how you want to collect it. If that means that you break up an Uncirculated Coin Set for your collection, go for it. If that means you don’t, go for it. There truly is no right or wrong answer.

Hopefully this answers your question Paul.

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