Set Registry Showcase: Impossible Registry Sets

Posted on 4/26/2011

This month, we’ll take a look at some areas of the Registry that are ripe for new top contenders.

Each month we examine another area of the PMG Registry, often highlighting areas where there is stiff competition. This month, we’ll look at some areas of the Registry that are ripe for a new top contender, either because few sets are participating or the top sets are missing the key note. First we’ll take a look at these areas and then we’ll take a look at what this all means.

In any area of collecting, the “key” refers to the toughest or most challenging issue required to complete a set. For example, among WWII Emergency Issues, the most difficult note to obtain is Fr. 2308, the $10 1934 North Africa. It’s a required component of the North Africa Complete Set, but, because of its elusiveness, it is absent from all 14 sets competing in this category. The top five sets are all 75% complete, missing this one note. If a complete set were registered, it would garner the top position because of this one note’s point value.

Is this Registry Set an “impossible” set? Are notes like Fr. 2308 too difficult to obtain to include them in a set definition? Certainly not! PMG has graded 24 examples in all grades (although just four examples are uncirculated). While this is a valuable note, examples appear at auction frequently enough for Fr. 2308 to remain a required element of the Complete Registry Set. We’re surprised that top collectors have yet to register their examples of Fr. 2308, although the top sets in the North Africa Complete Set category do include exceptionally high grade examples. It’s worthwhile to mention that currently the set does not require the star note Fr. 2308* of which only a few are known, two being recent discoveries.

Another area of the Registry that appears ready for more contenders is Demand Notes. These highly popular and historic notes were the first type of paper money issued in the United States. The PMG Registry offers a solitary set definition, a denomination set which requires just three notes: a $5, a $10 and a $20. Thus far, no complete set is registered.

To be fair, the $20 Demand Note is a very scarce item. PMG has certified five examples in all, each grading either F 15 or VF 20, and there have been only a couple of auction appearances of them in the last few years. It’s on the cusp of being excluded from the set definition because of its rarity, but it has been included because all Demand Notes are rare and expensive…not just the $20. All that said, the first complete set of Demand Notes is certain to assume the top spot in the PMG Registry.

The question should again be asked, is the Demand Notes Set impossible to complete? While the $20 issue is extraordinarily valuable and truly rare, examples have been graded by PMG and they do appear in the market, even if infrequently. Rather these seemingly impossible sets illustrate the challenge presented by the PMG Registry. Some of the most astute and advanced collectors are building sets in these categories, and yet holes still appear. The PMG Registry is equipped to challenge all comers.

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