Introduction to Coin Collecting

How to Start Collecting Coins For Fun and Profit


James Bucki

There are many reasons that people become interested in coin collecting. The technical name for studying coins, or for that fact all forms of money, is numismatics. Some people stumble onto the hobby of coin collecting by finding a curious coin in their pocket change or uncovering a coin while metal detecting. Others inherit a coin collection from a relative and are fascinated by it. And still others are introduced to the hobby via a family member, friend or attending a numismatic related event such as a Boy Scouts of America Coin Collecting Merit Badge Workshop. Regardless of how you got started, you are about to embark on a lifelong journey of fun, enjoyment, making new friends and possibly making some money.

There is an old adage that goes, "Buy the book before you buy the coin." In other words, if you are looking for a get rich quick scheme then coin collecting is not the place for you. Of course, there are coins that are worth a lot of money, but the appreciation of value usually takes many years. Additionally, there are coin collectors that have made thousands or millions of dollars when their coin collections are sold. The secret to making this level of profit is patience, knowledge and wisdom. Here you will find many resources to possibly help you become one of history's greatest coin collectors.

Collectors versus Accumulators

There are many "coin accumulators" in the world. These are the people that toss their curious coins into a jar or to the bottom of their dresser drawer. Organization is what differentiates a "coin collector" from the "coin accumulator."

There are many ways to organize your coin collection. Some of the numismatic purists insist that the only way to organize a collection is by date and mint mark. There are as many different ways to organize a coin collection as there are coin collectors. These include collecting type sets, date sets, date and mint mark sets, topical sets, proof sets, uncirculated mint sets, etc.

Regardless of how you organize your collection, it is essential to protect your coins so that they will maintain their value or even increase in value. There are many different ways to protect your coin collection and each one of them has advantages and disadvantages. Additionally, the cost to purchase the coin collecting supplies will vary depending upon the type of protection you wish to have for your collection. The more valuable your coins are, the more you should spend on protecting them.

Why People Collect Coins

There are many different reasons why people collect coins. One of the underlying reasons that every coin collector has is an objective is to sell their coins for more than they paid for them. There's an old adage that says, "Collect coins for your enjoyment and for your heirs profitability." If you buy a coin at a fair price and enjoy having that coin in your collection, you will never feel like you were ripped off.

Other reasons include assembling a collection of coins for a feeling of accomplishment and to admire their beauty. Taking time to work on your collection also provides an opportunity to relax. There is also a social aspect by being able to join a coin club and participate in coin shows. People, who are successful investors in coins, take the time to educate themselves by seeking out detailed information on the coins that they collect. This provides them with the knowledge and experience that gives them the edge over uninformed collectors and dealers.

Continuing Your Coin Collecting Journey

If you're ready to advanced your coin collecting experience to the next level you need to seek out people and information that will guide you along your journey. This may include visiting coin dealers in your area and becoming familiar with them and the coins that they sell. This will provide you an opportunity to ask questions and seek the dealer's advice. Like all businesses, there are good coin dealers and bad coin dealers. If you do not like a particular coin dealer, find another one to do business with. Also, some communities have coin clubs that meet on a regular basis. Finding a local coin club will also provide you with an opportunity to learn more about the coins you collect and to meet people with similar interests.

The Internet is also a wonderful source of information and, unfortunately, misinformation. By visiting this website, you have already found a resource that can help you advance your coin collecting knowledge. There are also online coin forums and specialty websites that may interest you. As much as computers have permeated our lives, books are still the number one source of information for coin collecting. Beginners will greatly benefit by purchasing a copy of the Guide Book to United States Coins (A.K.A. "The Redbook"). These resources will allow you to educate yourself and study coins before you decide to start assembling a collection. Another sage bit of advice is, "Buy the book before you buy the coin."

Example Coin Books.
Examples of different coin books available for coin collectors.

Coin collecting can be a lifelong hobby that can be anything you want it to be. Assembling a coin collection that you can be proud of is a process and not a race. Collectors that rush to assemble a set of coins usually make many mistakes that include paying too much for the coins that they purchased or buying coins that are counterfeit, damaged or cleaned. Coin collecting is a journey, not a race.

Ending Your Coin Collecting Journey

There comes a time in every coin collector's journey that they need to step away from the hobby due to financial limitations, life pressures or time constraints. If your coins are stored properly, they will still be in the same condition when you first bought them.

People who have collected coins for ten, twenty or even fifty years or longer, know the value of a well-organized collection. Their heirs will especially appreciate it. So, as you progress down your coin collecting journey, take the time to learn about your coins and have the patience that is required to make wise purchases. In doing this, you will have years of enjoyment and possibly turn a high profit when it comes time to sell your coins.