I've been "collecting" Liberty Head Half Eagles on and off since the early 1970s. I lack 49 pieces including major varieties to complete this set but most were purchased prior to the time when third party grading really caught on. Many were purchased sight unseen via mail bids based on auction catalog descriptions. As you can see I have a lot of "details" coins that I submitted for grading in the recent past. Most were purchased prior to 1992 so relatively speaking they are all valued at more than I paid for them.
If starting today I would suggest touching and feeling before you buy. If you can't look in person get someone whose opinion you trust to look at the coin for you.
If you can afford it I would also recommend buying the better dates first, the common dates will always be common.
One nice thing about collecting $5 Liberty Half Eagles is that you will most likely always have something on your want list, unfortunately that’s also the biggest “not so nice thing” about collecting this series. While completing the set is most likely out of reach for most collectors it can still be fun trying. The series was minted for 70 years straight and including major varieties there are 209 coins in the NGC Registry Set, 102 no motto and 107 with motto.
There are several ways this series might be collected, a no motto and a with motto for a type set; all the Dahlonega, all the Charlotte, all the New Orleans, all the Carson City or all the San Francisco issues, maybe one from each of the seven mints where they were coined and even one from each of the 70 years they were coined but very few of us are trying to get them all.
I believe this is a highly overlooked, under rated and undervalued series. Through mid-May 2015 NGC has certified 199,374 coins including crack out resubmissions compared to over 219,000 1904 $20 Double Eagles alone. Of the 27 years and 102 no motto date, mint mark and major variety issues only 17,410 have been certified by NGC through the same period.
If you are viewing this set I hope you like $5 Libs as much as I do.