How to Collect Coins: A Complete Beginner’s Guide


Sunday, March 15th 2020, 1:33 pm
By: News On 6


Coin Collection

Did you recently acquire the “coin bug”? Are you looking to start a coin collection? Then get ready to enter an unusual yet exciting hobby.

Coin collecting continues to attract newbies. Old-timers, on the other hand, make serious money out of the hobby. But before you decide to join the fray, there are several things you need to understand about collecting coins.

Apart from knowing the type of coins to collect, you also need to consider proper coin care. So how do you start a coin-collecting journey?

Continue reading below as we teach you the basics of how to collect coins the right way.

Coin-Collecting: A Brief History

The best way to start a coin collecting hobby is to first appreciate its roots. The first people who collected coins were the royalties of ancient Rome and Mesopotamia. Thus, some people tagged it as the “Hobby of Kings.”

After several centuries, coin collecting evolved and spread across Europe. By the Renaissance period, more people embraced the hobby. The region’s researchers and scholars started to collect coins.

These educated men studied the coins for their cultural, artistic, and historical value.

From 1850 to 1873, the United States government minted a silver piece into a 3 cent coin. The reason for the value is that a postage stamp during that time cost 3 cents.

By the early 2000s, over 100 million Americans are into coin collecting. These people were spread across all 50 states according to the United States Mint.

For every US coin they mint, you will find two phrases. There is “In GOD We Trust.” The other is “E Pluribus Unum.”

It means “Out of many One” in Latin.

The hobby also brought forth some big names in coin collecting history. There are private businessmen, philanthropists, and ordinary workers who held some of the world’s biggest coin collections.

And of course, some of the country’s past presidents like Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Adams also developed a passion for coins.

Today, coin collecting not only involves coins that came from the bank. There are also challenge coins. These are custom coins that honor a specific group or organization.

How to Collect Coins: Doing It Right

Coin collecting or “numismatics” is similar to collecting other collectibles. You need to invest a lot of time in research. You also need to make rounds across different areas to find the coins that you want.

However, there is a proper way of starting a coin collection. Check out this complete guide that will teach you how to collect coins the right way.

Start Small

Like with any other collection, you need to start small and simple. You need to learn the ins and outs of the hobby as you build the foundation of your collection.

A good way to kick off your collection is through small purchases. There are small coin sets that are easy to complete and assemble. A good example is Lincoln pennies.

Today, you can still find them at relatively moderate prices. The search may not be that easy, as you may need to join coin shows to find one. Another good option is to search online, though the prices may come up a bit.

You can also start by focusing on a particular date range of coins. But make sure to go for the shorter date ranges. These coins are more affordable and take a shorter amount of time to complete.

Some of the best short sets include the Mercury dimes (1934-1945), the silver Peace dollars (1922-1926), and the Walking Liberty silver half dollars (1941-1947).

Stick to What You Like

After starting your collection, you will gradually begin to increase your coin knowledge. As you learn more about different kinds of coins, you will start to have favorites and preferences. This is the time when you should collect what you like.

Pick a series of coins that appeal to you the most. The appeal of the coins may come from their historical significance. It can also be their design and aesthetics.

Make every effort to get as much information as you can about the coins that you wish to focus on.

Learn About Proper Coin Care

Part of proper coin collecting is the care and maintenance of the coins. Like any other collectible, you want to keep your coins in their best possible condition. This is crucial especially if you wish to showcase them to others.

The same thing goes if you wish to treat them as future investments.

The key to coin care is not to clean the coins. Cleaning them will result in more harm than good. Since the coins are very old, they require gentle handling.

Even if you plan to use regular soap and water, do not do it. The cloth that you will use for cleaning may cause micro-abrasions on the coin. In turn, the abrasions can strip the natural tone of the coin.

When this happens, the coin’s technical grade will diminish.

Keep in mind that coin experts know their coins. They can tell if you cleaned yours or not. And if you did, the experts will consider your clean coin as “damaged.”

If you wish to hold the coin, there is a proper way of handling it. Avoid touching the face of the coin at all costs. Instead, hold the coin by the edges.

Use your thumb and forefinger and hold the coin in between them. Additionally, consider wearing a pair of cotton or latex gloves. This will reduce the chances of damaging your coin.

Learn the Experts’ Lingo

If you wish to succeed in your coin collecting hobby, you need to learn how the experts talk. Start by learning about the common terms they use to describe coins.

“Circulated” coins are ones you see everywhere. They are coins you use to buy things.

On the flip side, “uncirculated” are coins that never came out of the bank or Mint.

“Grade” is the score that you give to a coin depending on its condition. A score of “1” means the coin has a poor condition. “70” means the coin is in perfect condition.

Another important term is the “key date.” This refers to a coin that is the most expensive in a series because of its rarity.

“Obverse” refers to the coin’s “heads” side. “Reverse,” on the other hand, pertains to the “tails” side of the coin.

Know the Worth

Perhaps the most important tip for newbies is to know the true worth of a coin before buying it. Knowing the value of any coin starts with your research. Find out how rare the coin is.

You can invest in books like the “Guide Book of United States Coins.” This book gives you a rundown on the rarity of different coins. It also provides the key dates and mintage numbers of the coins.

Furthermore, you need to learn how to grade a coin. Grading a coin incorrectly even for only a tier will have a massive impact on its pricing.

Consider joining classes from the American Numismatic Association. They conduct seminars that teach you lessons that will help you determine the grade of a coin.

Learn from Others

Apart from reading books, you also need to learn from other coin collectors. The best place to learn from other people is during coin shows and conventions. You can meet fellow collectors and talk to seasoned veterans for tips.

Another is to visit a reputable coin shop. You can ask anything and everything about coins. You can also ask for their opinion on a particular coin that you wish to buy.

Where to Get Them

Before you can put into practice these tips, you need to know where to find the coins. There are numerous sources for coins. However, the sources vary depending on the type of coins that they offer.

If you are looking for some recent half dollars, you can check out credit unions, local banks, and even convenience stores. Another option is to go to garage sales and flea markets. You may chance upon excellent deals from people selling off their collection to raise money.

Another is the Professional Numismatists Guild (PNG). The group represents some of the world’s leading coin dealers.

The good thing about PNG is the safety of the transactions. PNG members follow a strict code of ethics in their dealings.

But if you wish to buy online, you can find good coins on Heritage Auctions, Stack’s Bowers, and eBay.

However, be careful when buying on eBay. You need to check on the seller’s track record and customer feedback before parting with your money.

Expand Your Coin Knowledge

Knowing how to collect coins the right way will help build a strong foundation for your hobby. It will help you make better decisions and reduce the instances of making big mistakes.

But, learning the fundamentals is only the first step. You need to push yourself by continuously expanding your knowledge.

We invite you to check our other articles on coins and coin collecting. We discuss various topics that will help you become a wiser coin collector.

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