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The Psychology of Completion

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Revenant

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I’m narrowing in on getting to call several on-going projects complete. My 10G set is about 80% complete if you don’t count the 1879/7 variety. My Queen’s Beast sets are getting into about that same 80% range and several of the parts / sub-series of my Zimbabwe hyperinflation set are getting to be about 85-92% complete by pick number. Most of these sets are missing only 1-3 issues before they’re 100% complete registry sets.

One thing I’ve been noticing lately is that, as I narrow in on the end, each new purchase feels a lot more satisfying than they did in the beginning.

When I started my 10G set I bought 4 coins for it in one or two months of a summer, but I don’t think I found those four purchases quite as satisfying and fulfilling even as adding that 1880. Granted, those 4 coins were the more common dates where the 1880 was semi-key, but I don’t think that was it. Buying the White lions for my Queen’s Beasts sets recently just felt good in a way that buying the Griffins (2nd coin of 10) just didn’t a few years ago.

There’s just something about narrowing in on the win.

I’m feeling this somewhat keenly with the Zimbabwe set recently with several big recent wins for my 1st dollar set. I joke with my wife that I’ve been telling myself for 8 months now that I was going to step back on this set and focus on other things but I feel myself compelled to keep driving forward as some key milestones for the set creep closer. You keep going for that next note just because it gets you just a little. bit. closer.

There’s a P-3c out there for sale that would easily be the most expensive note I’ve ever bought for this set if I pulled the trigger and yet I find myself somewhat tempted just because that is the last pick number I don’t have a representative piece for in my 1st dollar set and it would make my main 1st dollar competitive set 100% complete. On the flip side though, I’m realizing that the road ahead on that set might yet be somewhat larger than I thought it was.

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Closing in on completing a set can be very satisfying, but soon after filling the last slot, I usually develop a case of upgrade fever.  

One of my sore points with NGC is the way they define "sets". The basic Walking Liberty half set includes every date and mint mark, plus extra slots for the major design change moving the mint marks from obverse to reverse in 1917. This yields 65 slots, that was defined as the "set" when the Registry was created and remains so today.  

The basic Morgan dollar set, however, includes all dates and mint marks, minor design changes (7 tail feathers or 8 tail feathers, straight or slanted arrow feather), and several very obscure errors.  The minor design changes, OK, but I don't believe an 1882-O/S or 1887/6-O belongs in a basic Morgan set any more than a 1946 DDR Walker belongs in a basic Walker set.  

Even more frustrating is when the set changes long after it is added to the Registry.  A new set for Walking Liberty half dollars including 14 specific varieties was added years ago.  I asked at the time why those specific varieties were included while others were not, and the answer was that those were considered the "significant" varieties fir the WL series.  I already had a few of the varieties and immediately began searching for the others. It took about five years to accumulate 12 of the 14, but when I went to add my 12th one, I found two new slots had been added to the set. More slots have been added since then.  To add insult to injury, I had preciously owned one of the added varieties but sold it because at the time (1) the variety had not been attributed on the label, (2) NGC would not attribute the variety because it was "not significant", and (3) there was no slot for it even if it was attributed.  

That's my rant for today.  Someday I'd like to get some of those Zimbabwe multi-trillion note you are collecting.  I have some seriously devalued Ethiopian money but their inflation has been mild compared to Mugabe's pillaging of his country.  

Edited by CBC

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17 hours ago, CBC said:

Closing in on completing a set can be very satisfying, but soon after filling the last slot, I usually develop a case of upgrade fever.  

Maybe... but it depends on the set. My 10G set is already MS65 or MS66 in old fatty holders. I may submit some of the old MS65 fatties to see if they can pick up a point but, beyond that, I have very little interest in upgrading that set. The only exception to this might be the 1887, which is the only coin in the set below a 65. The Queen's Beast series is raw. It's raw by design and it's staying that way - No grades, no slabs, no upgrading, no competing, just building a set of coins I want.

The Zimbabwe set is the most likely of the three to see upgrades. Even there, I'd probably only consider upgrading the ~10% of the set that is 64 or 65, and maybe some of the 66s where higher grades are common. I just can't see myself being willing to drop big-bucks to upgrade a 67 EPQ to a 68 EPQ. There's a big diminishing returns problem there and I don't expect these to hold value over time as interest in everything except the 100 Trillion note just keeps dropping as we get further in time from 2008.

17 hours ago, CBC said:

One of my sore points with NGC is the way they define "sets"...

This, to me, is one of those things where NGC can never make everyone happy - some want more varieties and some what less, and they can't make a special category for everyone's taste because then there'd be no interesting competition. I'm just happy to remind myself that I'm not required to buy any coin I don't want to buy or collect and I don't have to compete in any category I don't want to.

17 hours ago, CBC said:

Someday I'd like to get some of those Zimbabwe multi-trillion note you are collecting.  I have some seriously devalued Ethiopian money but their inflation has been mild compared to Mugabe's pillaging of his country.  

One of these days I'd like to branch into more hyperinflation notes - Yugoslavia, 1940s Hungary, Venezuela, Argentina...

The Zimbabwe Trillions notes are one of the areas where I think you have to give PMG props on sets because they offer a category with a 4 note short-set for those that just want the 4 "Trillions" notes and who aren't interested in the 21 lower denominations of the 3rd dollar series. Somewhat more oddly, they also have short sets for the Billions and the Millions notes. I have a harder time understanding those as I can't see many / any people wanting to collect just the Billions or especially Just the Millions and not the Trillions - and participation in the different categories seems to support this.

The pillaging continues even though they gave Mugabe his walking papers.

I really have just fallen in love with this set to the point where I feel like my research and descriptions are almost self-indulgent rambling about all this cool stuff about the notes, imagery, economic history... and I've learned a lot about the country in the course of it all. One of these days I may have to plan a vacation there after all of this, just to see it all - like the Chiremba rocks, Victoria Falls, the Kariba dam, the wildlife preserves the Flame of Freedom and the Capital...

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2 hours ago, Revenant said:

This, to me, is one of those things where NGC can never make everyone happy - some want more varieties and some what less, and they can't make a special category for everyone's taste because then there'd be no interesting competition.

I just believe a basic "set" for any series should include only those dates, mint marks and varieties officially issued by the Mint.  The Mint officially issued 1917-S half dollars with the S on the obverse, and officially released 1917-S half dollars with the S on the reverse.  They kept records of how many of each design were released.  Both should be included in the basic set.  The Mint did not officially issue 1882-O/S Morgan dollars.  There is no Mint record of such an issue.  A Mint employee did a sloppy job of modifying dies with an existing S mint mark and replacing it with an O.  Should that be included in a Variety set? Sure, but not the basic set because the Mint did not intentionally create them.  

And when creating a Registry set including varieties, define what's included, put it out to the community for comment, then add the set to the Registry and leave it alone.  No one likes a competition where the goal posts keep moving.

3 hours ago, Revenant said:

I really have just fallen in love with this set to the point where I feel like my research and descriptions are almost self-indulgent rambling about all this cool stuff about the notes, imagery, economic history... and I've learned a lot about the country in the course of it all. One of these days I may have to plan a vacation there after all of this, just to see it all - like the Chiremba rocks, Victoria Falls, the Kariba dam, the wildlife preserves the Flame of Freedom and the Capital...

 I have never been to Zimbabwe but I have been to Ethiopia several times. I bet you would enjoy a trip to either or both (once the pandemic is over and we can travel again).  The Omo river valley in the southwest is one of the most remote areas in the world, and Axum and Lalibela in the north are fascinating historical sites.  In terms of inflation, one US dollar was equal to 5.2 Ethiopian Birr during my first trip there in 1994. Now one US dollar is over 30 ETB.  

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@Revenant 'One thing I’ve been noticing lately is that, as I narrow in on the end, each new purchase feels a lot more satisfying than they did in the beginning.'

I would agree with this as I have several Napoleon typesets nearly complete - however this is purely from an NGC perspective! For example the dates on the Napoleon 'barehead' issues are either the revolutionary calender (e.g. AN13) or the Gregorian calender (e.g. 1807). As a result my typeset has more slotsxD

Even when complete there is the option of upgrading each entry which is much more likely in a typeset unless you already have the top grade of the key date for each denomination. All my other sets are so far from completion that each new entry still means the sets still have the air of 'impossible' about them, and as my sets tend to be date runs including all of the varieties (I probably have some psychological reason for this;)) I hope my (great) grandchildren get the satisfaction of completing them!

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20 minutes ago, ColonialCoinsUK said:

I would agree with this as I have several Napoleon typesets nearly complete - however this is purely from an NGC perspective! For example the dates on the Napoleon 'barehead' issues are either the revolutionary calender (e.g. AN13) or the Gregorian calender (e.g. 1807). As a result my typeset has more slotsxD

Even when complete there is the option of upgrading each entry which is much more likely in a typeset unless you already have the top grade of the key date for each denomination. All my other sets are so far from completion that each new entry still means the sets still have the air of 'impossible' about them, and as my sets tend to be date runs including all of the varieties (I probably have some psychological reason for this;)) I hope my (great) grandchildren get the satisfaction of completing them!

I very much feel your pain on "from an NGC perspective." I'm definitely crazier than most with the Zimbabwe set and I've continued to get crazier. What started as just getting the Trillions and the higher denom 3rd dollar notes has evolved into an effort to build a complete pick set from P-1 to the end which I think at this point is P-102 and growing. Then I decided to do something really unkind to myself and start buying the varieties - so now I have 3 varieties of the P-1 note - and getting normal and star note varieties of some notes... So much for a simple little set... If I could ever afford and pull off a complete variety set of the 1st series of the 1st dollar I think that would be the holy grail of Zimbabwe note sets - but I'm nowhere close to that and won't be for some time, if ever. I think in the last few months I've expanded my signature set from having about 90-100 slots to having 116 slots now... I just keep making it bigger as I get crazier. :insane:

I can't see myself ever upgrading much of it. Some of my notes are top pop, so there's that, but so much of that set now is 66 EPQ and even 67 EPQ or 68 EPQ. When you have grades like that, yeah, maybe there's a higher grade one out there but... why? Why spend all that money on an upgrade and not on something that just adds something more interesting or novel to your set or your broader collection?

If Muzzer decides to mount a serious challenge to my 3rd dollar set I might be able to convince myself to upgrade some of the 65 EPQ notes in that set to 67 or 68 to try to keep the top spot but that's about the only way I see talking myself into it. Even then, I might feel a bit bad about giving in to putting money into what is nothing more than a registry "you-know-what" contest. lol 

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I understand that feeling of coming close to competition and then completing the series that gives me a good feeling but then a touch of sadness that stir my soul right to the core as if I don't want it to ever end...I know I'm a bit dramatic about it. I think I'm a bit obsessive about my collection always searching for a higher grade coin....So I guess my Icelandic collection will never be complete .....doh!......:banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana:    

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16 hours ago, Iceman said:

I understand that feeling of coming close to competition and then completing the series that gives me a good feeling but then a touch of sadness that stir my soul right to the core as if I don't want it to ever end...I know I'm a bit dramatic about it. I think I'm a bit obsessive about my collection always searching for a higher grade coin....So I guess my Icelandic collection will never be complete .....doh!......:banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana::banana:    

I think there's that bittersweet element to finishing and ending anything. But, as you said / implied or, what can be inferred from reading here, if you're willing to go far enough down the rabbit hole, almost any project can be made endless / unending. It reminds me of that line from "Rose Red" - "It's finished, when you say it's finished." lol

I might be slightly sad / find it bittersweet if I ever manage to get to 100% complete on my 10G set but... Holy ****! :banana::whee:That'll be a proud moment for me after all these years - assuming it even happens! ^^

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