Beginning coin collecting is an exciting adventure for people of all ages and budgets. The hobby is as much about the thrill of the chase as it is about the acquisition. Nothing compares with tracking down an elusive coin—except maybe telling friends and other collectors about it. Whether or not you find a rare coin, coin collecting can be a meaningful and personal activity that can be bring you years of enjoyment.
Coin collecting is also a great hobby for a wide range of people because it can be done in various locations under various conditions. If you posses or have access to a metal detector, you have one of the most helpful tools for coin collecting already at your disposal. Coin collecting can be fun, adventurous, and even lucrative if done well. Ultimately, this hobby is wonderful because it is so flexible and adaptable to your individual preferences and tastes.
Coin Collecting History
The practice of collecting and studying coins, known as the field of “numismatics,” has a long history. As far back as the days of the Roman Empire, people saved coins for their rarity and artistic value. Julius Caesar is said to have had a collection, as was Augustus Caesar. Back then coins, like today, often had a likeness of the current ruler imprinted onto them. This made it very easy to identify different currency types.
Likewise, people in the Victorian era would sometimes save intriguing coins as well. They often would collect them for their “cabinet of curiosities”—a type of display case intended to start conversations. In the 20th century, the invention of the coin folder – a smaller, more portable display and storage option – spurred young collectors to check their pocket change for treasure. This created a resurgence of interest in coin collecting as a fun and interesting hobby.
Did You Know?
- One of coin collecting’s most interesting stories is how Egypt’s King Farouk obtained a 1933 Double Eagle and was mistakenly granted a Treasury Department export license. The only problem was that the U.S. Mint never officially issued the coin, making it illegal to possess. Attempts to arrange its return failed and the coin disappeared around 1952.
- It is generally believed that the hobby of coin collecting began soon after the minting of the first coins around 650 B.C.
- It costs 1.23 cents to produce one penny. Is it just us or does that figure sound foolish?
- The US Mint was founded in 1792, and it produces billions of coinage every year.
Getting Started With Beginning Coin Collecting
When beginning coin collecting, it is wise to assemble all your coin collecting supplies before you make your first coin purchase. You will want to get a copy of the newest “Guide Book of U.S. Coins,” also known as the “Red Book.” This book provides detailed information on each coin, as well as an idea of its current retail value. A jeweler’s loupe is another great idea. This tool allows collectors to look closely at the details of a coin. You will also need a variety of coin holders. Initial supplies for beginning coin collecting should cost no more than $100.
It is also a good idea when starting out to learn as much as you can about coin collecting, as it can be a very technical and precise hobby to get into. A wide variety of coin magazines and websites are available that offer wonderful insight into the hobby. Many local libraries also have books that coin collectors consider classics. The point is to know enough so that you can buy, sell, and trade coins with confidence.
Since you have made the decision to be part of this hobby’s proud history, you will need to understand some basic terms. Today’s collectors use a lot of coin collecting jargon; once you understand it, you will be an empowered collector. For example, when someone assesses a coin’s condition, they are said to have “graded” it. Grades range from poor to mint state. The front of a coin is known as the “obverse” and the back of the coin is known as the “reverse.” A particularly rare coin in a series is often called a “key date.” A “slabbed coin,” which carries a premium in value, is professionally graded and is typically preserved in a airtight holder. Other on-premium coins are considered “raw.”
Getting Started Collecting Coins
A great first step when beginning coin collecting is to find a local coin show and look at as many coins as possible. This is a great way to look at all the different types, styles, and genres of coins so that you can decide what type of coins are most interesting to you. This is also a great place for you to be able to ask any questions that you may have regarding the coins or the hobby itself.
After you have had time to go to a coin show, you should use the information you gathered to decide how to structure your collection. Most people collect a coin series by date and mint mark to ensure they have an example of each coin issue. Other approaches include collecting by type or theme. A type collection showcases premium examples of various kinds of coins. A theme collection often centers on a coin’s artwork. For example a collection might feature coins depicting horses or coins with faces on them.
Now it is time to begin adding to your collection. Scouring eBay and other related sites is a wonderful way to put your newfound knowledge to work. Once you begin gathering coins you can organize and classify them according to a system that works for you. If you will be displaying your coins this is also a great time to decide how you will do this.
If you will be laying them on their backs, it may be a good idea to invest in a nice piece of fabric to cushion the coins and offset their beauty. Coin collecting albums are also a great way to not only display your collection but to protect the coins as well. Plan to care for your coins before you buy them. Assemble your supplies, give the collection an area in your home, and make sure the environment is not too humid. When a coin suffers harm to its condition, the damage is permanent.
If you plan to do this hobby in hopes of generating an income, you will want to get your coins assessed and appraised by a professional in the field. This means taking your collection to them so that they can evaluate their condition and estimate their value. You may want to consider putting them up for auction, if you have either a very rare coin that may generate a lot of interest or if you have a large quantity of coins that could be grouped together in lots.
Tips and Tricks
The following tips and tricks can help you get the most out of your beginning coin collecting…
- Coin collecting is something you do over a lifetime. Do not rush purchases as this often leads to regret. Impulse coin purchases rarely work out.
- Consider collecting slabbed coins. Though more expensive than raw coins, they ensure you are getting exactly what the label says.
- Take the time to get to know area dealers. This often leads to discounts and access to valuable expertise. You can buy coins via online auction sites, but new collectors should use caution when buying online.
- Be sure to seek out other numismatists. People beginning a collection are often surprised to learn that a local coin club exists. You can also find many discussion forums online. Half the fun of beginning coin collecting is sharing your knowledge and experiences.
Ways to Grow Coin Collecting as a Hobby
When you begin coin collecting, you are wise to focus your efforts. After gaining some experience, and developing a strong collection base, you may want to branch out. The following ideas can help…
- One option is to change what you collect. If you start off collecting silver Roosevelt Dimes, for example, change things up by pursuing a set of Peace Dollars.
- Another way to grow is to actively sell and trade coins. It may not be the best option when beginning coin collecting, but after a time, wheeling and dealing with other collectors can make things very interesting, especially when selling silver, gold, or rare coins.
- If you mainly collect U.S. coins, try pursuing world coins as well. A whole new landscape of artwork, rarities, and history will open up to you in doing so.
- Branch out and collect rare printed currency.
Related Coin Collecting Resources
The following online resources can help you with your beginning coin collecting…
CoinTalk.com – A valuable forum where collectors can chat about their collections, compare items, ask questions, and more.
Rare Coins Guide – Tips, Ideas, and resources for rare coin collectors.
CoinLand.com – A place to buy USA coins – also a resource to see the estimated values of certain coins.
Related YouTube Videos
Check out the following videos to learn even more about starting this hobby.