The best place to buy coins depends upon what coins you collect and how you collect them. Some people started collecting coins by finding something interesting in their pocket change. Other people start collecting coins because they inherited a coin collection. There are also folks who are introduced to coin collecting from a friend or relative. Regardless of how you start your coin collecting journey, someday you will need to purchase coins to complete your collection.
Just about every coin collector dreams about making a small fortune when they sell their coin collection. Education and careful planning will help you achieve this goal. However, people looking to make a quick buck are usually disappointed. You will have better luck being a day trader on the New York Stock Exchange than trying to flip coins to make a quick dollar. Therefore, collect what you like, and you will enjoy the hobby of coin collecting for the rest of your life regardless of the amount of profit you make when it comes time to sell your coin collection.
You can purchase coins from anywhere and from anybody, but be cautious. In the quest for finding a bargain, you may actually overpay for coin or get ripped off. Take your time and avoid making common coin collecting mistakes. Regardless of the time and effort, you put into researching your purchases; every coin collector has made a mistake or two when purchasing a coin. The wise coin collector will learn from his or her mistakes and use that knowledge to build a better collection that will be more valuable in the long run.
New Coin Collectors
There will be a time when you can no longer complete your coin collection by pulling coins from circulation at face value. If you are new to coin collecting, start with small purchases under $20 to get yourself familiar with the coin purchasing process. If you make a mistake, the damage to your coin collecting budget will be minimal.
However, use your mistakes as lessons and learn from them. Ask yourself why did you buy this coin? What didn't I see when I was at the coin dealer's table? Was I in too much of a hurry? Or was there something else that distracted you from making a wise purchase?
New coin collectors will generally purchase coins valued at less than $100. As you become more familiar with coin collecting and your knowledge increases, so will the value of your coins you will look to purchase. The best place to start buying coins is from a local coin dealer or at a local coin show. There you will be able to meet many different coin dealers. Shop for a dealer that you find easy to work with and is trusted by other collectors. Also, join a coin club where you can share your coin dealer experiences with other collectors and find a trusted and respected coin dealer.
Coin collecting education is a priority so that you will know a coin’s value before you purchase it. You also may want to try different ways to collect coins. Traditionally, most people collect United States coins by mint and mint mark. Other people assemble a type set of coins, world coins, ancient coins or medieval coins. As you find new ways to collect coins, your purchasing needs will also change.
The internet may seem like a coin collector’s dream with bargains abounding on every screen. However, the internet is like the Wild West and is lurking with many thieves and robbers looking to rip you off. Extreme caution should be exercised when purchasing any coin over the Internet. Unless you are familiar with the seller, you should avoid purchasing coins over the internet.
You can also collect modern coins directly from the United States Mint. With very few exceptions, the mint charges high premiums on the coins they sell. Most commonly you are better off purchasing modern United States coins on the secondary market a year or two after they are issued. This includes United States commemorative coins, Proof coin sets, and uncirculated sets.
The Intermediate Coin Collector
The intermediate coin collector has been actively collecting for several years and has tried several different ways to collect coins. They now tend to focus on a particular coin collecting specialty and have developed a coin collecting goal and plan. They are discerning in their coin purchases and have developed an eye for quality. At this level, coin purchases will fall between $100 and $5,000.
These more expensive coins should be certified and graded by third-party grading companies such as Professional Coin Grading Service or Numismatic Guarantee Corporation. These companies will ensure that an expert has authenticated the coin and has given their expert opinion on the coin’s grade. It is impossible for any coin dealer to be an expert in every area of numismatics. You should develop a relationship with a trusted coin dealer that specializes in your area of collecting.
Unfortunately, even the largest cities may not have a local coin dealer that specializes in the area of coin collecting you want to focus on. Therefore, you may have to move to a national level and develop a relationship with a coin dealer in a different city. National coin shows such as the ANA World’s Fair of Money provide an opportunity for you to evaluate and select a coin dealer that can help you obtain your coin collecting goals.
You may be able to purchase coins directly from large national and international coin auction houses. However, many coins are sold by “private treaty” and are never offered at a public auction. A specialized coin dealer can help you find these hidden gems.
If you are a collector of ancient, medieval, or world coins, you may have to deal with a coin dealer overseas. A reputable foreign coin dealer will help you assemble your collection and familiarize you with import and export laws which must be obeyed. Every year in January the New York International Numismatic Convention is held in New York City. This event will provide you the opportunity to meet and evaluate foreign coin dealers.
The Advanced Collector/Investor
The advanced coin collector also considers his or her purchases as investments. These purchases usually involve coins that are valued at over $5,000. By this time the advanced coin collector has developed a relationship with one or two coin dealers that represent his best interests. The coin dealer will take the time to learn and understand your collecting goals and appreciates the level of quality coins you are pursuing.
Although high-quality digital images of coins may aid you in your purchase decision, nothing beats an in-person evaluation of a particular coin to assess its qualifications. This may involve travel to different cities to attend coin shows or visit different coin dealers. Unfortunately, the advanced coin collector may not have the time to perform these necessary visits, but a trusted coin dealer can evaluate a coin on your behalf.
Developing a relationship with a nationally recognized dealer is of paramount importance in acquiring the high-quality coins that an advanced coin collector seeks. But an advanced coin collector will also possess the knowledge and experience to purchase coins at national and international coin auctions if he or she chooses.