Do you want to introduce your child to a lifelong hobby that is fun, educational and potentially profitable? As young coin collectors build their collections, boys and girls get a chance to effortlessly learn about economics, math, science, measurements, history, politics and art. Getting the chance to operate as savvy business people, amateur detectives and treasure hunters also develops practical skills and builds confidence.
Of course, before parents and children can begin enjoying all of the fruits of this classic hobby, it's important to figure out how to get started. People have produced coins for thousands of years, so it's critical to first narrow the focus — this is beneficial for younger and older collectors. While some collectors expand their collections over time, many specialize in certain types of coins.
Coin Collecting for Kids: Getting Started
American kids will probably find U.S. coins interesting and the most accessible. To encourage and educate young collectors, the U.S. Mint publishes the History In Your Pocket (h.i.p.) website. Since some education and encouragement about coin collecting is a valuable first step, children and parents should take the time to review the five lessons of the "Inspector Collector's Coin Course." After graduating, students can even print a diploma and learn about more resources.
The next step consists of deciding which kinds of coins to focus on. Some good suggestions for a child's first coin collection include:
- U.S. State quarters and America the Beautiful quarters: Every state has its own quarter, and these are commonly found in circulation and in bank rolls. Completing a set from the original State quarters program and the follow-up America the Beautiful program might be a great first project for children. Circulated examples can still be found in pocket change and bankrolls.
- Lincoln cents: They say that you can't buy much with a “penny” any more, so kids might as well collect a series in a coin folder. A complete series of cents will certainly have more value than the cumulative value of the coins, so children might be able to use it to trade for their next collecting project.
- U.S. silver coins: Most dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars struck in 1964 and earlier were made from 90 percent silver, so they are more valuable than their face values. They can occasionally still be found in circulation or in bank rolls. Purchasing many examples of circulated silver dimes, for example, is usually not very expensive, and your child has a chance to learn about precious metals and even accumulate his or her own stash.
Get the Journey Started Right
The U.S. Mint's "Getting Started" page suggests purchasing a magnifying glass to help kids preserve their eyes and recognize details. Of course, children need to learn how to find Mint marks, dates, and other important elements of coins. In addition, a coin folder helps keep collections organized.
Begun right, coin collecting can become a lifelong hobby, as children learn to check their pocket change, organize their collection, research important facts, and even negotiate and trade for more valuable coins. Kids may be further encouraged to learn that many presidents, kings and other celebrities shared their fascination with all sorts of currency. In many ways, the history of coins parallels the history of civilization. However, that can also make numismatics, or the study of currency, quite overwhelming at first. That's why it is usually best to begin with a simple collection and let children develop their own particular interests in the hobby.
About the Author
Joe O’Donnell joined the Coin World editorial staff in 2014, as a digital content producer. Joe writes web content, manages Coin World’s social media accounts, contributes on occasion to the print magazine, and compiles content for daily digital eNewsletters.