Many people start a coin collection as an investment for their children or grandchildren. Some parents choose to hold onto the coin collection before giving it directly to them. Once the child becomes of age, he or she may choose to continue the coin collection or store it away for safekeeping. Adults may have received a coin collection at an earlier age; however, some may have an interest in starting one on their own. Not everyone invests their time and money into coin collections just to yield a profit. In fact, coin collecting has a lot to offer in terms of appreciation and historic value. Coins tell stories of the past, which provide insight into the way people functioned during different time periods.
Coins have a rich history stretching far back to ancient Egypt. Due to the monetary value involved, coin collecting became a common pastime for the nobility. In fact, monarchs and wealthy noblemen practiced this hobby often, which gained it the term “king of hobbies.” Modern coin collectors appreciate the value of these pieces of historic relics. Many collect coins because of their intrinsic bullion value while others view them as rare artifacts. Coin collecting gained its popularity in America during the 1930s, when U.S. commemorative coins entered the marketplace. Today, millions of collectors purchase and trade their coins at various clubs located in the United States.
The Basics of Coin Collecting
Anybody can start a coin collection with a few basic items. First, look around the house for loose coins that look different from those recently minted. Check your purse, wallet, dresser, desk drawers, and under couch cushions. Most people are delighted to find a variety of coins in hidden places throughout their home. Next, ask family, friends, and neighbors if they have any old and unusual coins they would like to give away. Some people may just pull out a huge glass jar ready to be smashed open. Round up all of these coins and place them in a container for safekeeping.
A true coin collector goes a step beyond saving random coins. In fact, many invest in one or more coin albums. Some coin collectors prefer albums that hold specific or all denominations. Coin collectors may even learn a new language by collecting old coins. Most serious coin collectors have learned the common vocabulary used to describe a coin’s appearance, condition, and value. This helps them make a decision as to whether they should purchase or trade a certain coin. Some basic tools of the trade include a magnifying glass, jeweler’s tray, ruler, halogen lamp, cotton gloves, a reference book, and holders or albums to store coins.
- U.S. Mint: Coin Collecting Basics
- The American Numismatic Association: Coin Collecting Basics
- The Fun of Collecting United States Coins
- Boy Scouts of America: Coin Collecting
- Coin and Currency Collections
What Coins to Collect
Coin collectors can choose what coins to collect in accordance to their interest and budget. Many coin collectors look at a variety of factors before making a decision, such as denomination, type, date, mintmark, and year. Coin collectors may choose their coins based upon denomination for a complete album. Start with coins in circulation to avoid obsolete and worthless coins. The type also catches the eyes of a certain coin collectors who pay close attention to the denomination. The date and mintmark also address the authenticity of the coin. Lastly, some collectors purchase coins for every year after their initial birthday; however, this may prove difficult for those over the age of 50.
- Numismaster: Beginner Coin Collecting
- A Beginner’s Guide to Coin Collecting (PDF)
- Coin Collecting for Beginners (PDF)
- Littleton’s: How to Collect Coins (PDF)
- Gainesville Coins: Coin Collection Themes
Coin Collecting Reference Guides
Coin collectors rely on their reference guides to make decisions about their rare coins. Reference guides help determine the condition, outside appearance, and value of the coins. Many have rare coins listed, which makes it easier to identify these coins when they appear in your collection. Choosing the right reference guide will bring satisfaction to anybody who loves coin collecting as a favorite pastime.
- The Professional Coin Grading Service: Price Guide
- Numismatic Guaranty Corporation: World Coin Price Guide
- Coin Collector’s University: An Introduction and Guide to Coin Collecting
- Finding the Value of Old Coins and Paper Money
- Getting the Most from Coin Price Guides
Most Valuable Coins
Coin collectors dream of stumbling across one of the world’s most valuable coins. A variety of valuable die varieties and error coins exist in circulation today. Many collectors overlook these coins because of their similarity to other coins. In fact, their small distinguishing features, such as doubling of the coin image, make them hard to notice when received. Some of the most valuable U.S. coins include the Obverse 1969-S Lincoln Cent, 1999 Wide “AM” Reverse Lincoln Cent, and the 1982 No Mint Mark Roosevelt Dime to name a few.