Collecting coins is a hobby loved by many for generations. Rare coins, gold coins, foreign coins, ancient coins—there are endless types of exciting coins to collect!
If you’re just starting out collecting coins, you might be wondering where to begin! Here is our complete guide to coin collecting for beginners who are looking to start their numismatic collection!
Start your coin collection today!
There are countless reasons to begin collecting coins! You can do it for a variety of reasons, or one primary reason. No matter why you decide to start collecting, it should be a passion project of yours!
Some people collect coins as a financial investment because of the possibility that their value will increase over time, but there are things to keep in mind about the financial aspect of coin collecting.
No one can guarantee the price of precious metals or coins in the future. Precious metal products are subject to price swings due to the market. Like all markets, the metals and rare coins market involves risk. Also, the precious metals and numismatic coin markets are unregulated. There is no “Securities Exchange Commission” that governs the precious metals market. Because of market fluctuation, Nationwide Coins recommends that rare coins be held for a minimum of five years if you are planning on selling.
One of the main reasons people collect coins is simply for the fun of it! The thrill of the hunt is appealing for many people. Finding an exceptionally rare coin, completing a collection, or just hunting for coins at garage sales is an entertaining hobby.
It’s great to have a hobby and interest that connects you with like-minded people! Coin collecting is one such hobby that can unite you with people who have a similar interest. Whether you join an online forum, attend a convention, or find a local club, you’ll be surrounded by people who can guide you in your coin collecting journey!
Before you buy your first coin, there are a few essential items you need to have in order to effectively start a numismatic collection. From keeping your coins clean to understanding what they’re worth, these items are must haves!
Even though most coins were made to be circulated and are therefore very durable, they are still delicate (and valuable!) and should therefore be treated with care. Especially if you find a coin in exquisite condition, you’ll want to ensure that it stays that way! Oils and dirt from your fingers can damage coins, so wearing white cotton gloves will protect the integrity of the coin.
As you deepen your understanding of the intricacies of each coin, you’ll understand why you need a magnifying glass! Slight imperfections, irregularities, and damages will become clearer underneath a magnifying glass, and you’ll want to make sure each coin you buy is up to the standard you want in a coin!
Most numismatic enthusiasts don’t just randomly collect coins; they usually have a specific type of coin or minting date they collect. This not only helps you narrow down which coins to purchase and keep, but it also means you will have a cohesive collection that could be worth more money someday!
You might love a particular coin—like the 1oz Gold Buffalo—and want to collect as many of that coin as you can. You can collect the design by year, so you end up with the same coin minted in different years.
You might decide to collect coins by what they’re made of—most commonly gold or silver. This broader category makes it easier to find coins that fit your collection, since you’re not as limited by year or coin type.
If you love a particular type of coin, like a quarter or a penny, you might consider collecting different versions of that type. For example, you might decide to collect quarters, so you would collect all variations of the US quarter that exist. This is called type collecting.
Many people love to collect coins that were minted in a specific year or time period—for example, in their birth year or during the US Civil War.
This is also a great option if you want to gift a collection to a child or grandchild. You can collect coins in the year they were born as a special commemorative gift for when they graduate!
If you’re enamored with a certain country or culture, you can collect coins from that part of the world! Australia, China, and Great Britain all have their own mints that produce circulated and collectible coins. This is a great way to commemorate your ancestors who are from a different country than where you currently reside!
Perfect isn’t always preferred—some people like to collect coins that have flaws, imperfections, or errors. Misprinted coins are rare, so they are hard to find and worth quite a bit of money. But that increases the thrill of the hunt!
You can purchase coins from almost anywhere in the world. From local stores to large online retailers, you can find many places that sell coins for a fair price.
With the development of the online selling space, more and more people are able to easily and quickly buy coins and get them shipped to their house!
Make sure that any website you buy from is legitimate. The site should be secure, meaning your sensitive information is at a lower risk to be stolen. You can tell if a site is secure by looking in the address bar in your browser while on the site—if it’s secure, there will be a lock symbol next to the URL. Nationwide Coins is proud to be a secure website!
You should also take into account reviews of other buyers to learn about their experience. When coin collecting, it is important to find a company that can educate you on the value and quality of coins. Nationwide Coins proudly has over 300 reviews on TrustPilot!
Many pawn or vintage shops will have old coins in cases for sale. This is a great option if you’re looking to avoid shipping costs! But beware—you might be charged more than a coin is worth, or you might be sold a coin that isn’t really what you thought it was. This is why it’s important to buy The Red Book so you are informed on fair prices and the exact details of a particular coin.
Trade shows are not only a great place to meet fellow numismatic enthusiasts, but it’s also a place to expand your coin collection. Many retailers will sell their coins there, and you can possibly even trade with other collectors. These people will be extremely knowledgeable about the coins they own, so they might try to upcharge you a little for the coins—but you can be fairly confident they won’t pull the wool over your eyes!
If you’re looking for coins that might still be or once have been in circulation, you can check your spare change! Alternatively, you can get rolls of coins from the bank and go through those to see if you find any hidden gems!
There are a lot of factors that go into what a coin is worth—it’s not just about how pretty the coin is or how much gold is in it!
The face value of a coin is what it would be worth if used as currency. This amount is usually printed on the coin (e.g., 25 cents for a US quarter). In terms of numismatic collecting, face value doesn’t really play a role in the value of a coin.
A coin’s intrinsic value is what the coin is worth based on the pure metal content in the coin if it were melted down and sold at cost. Like face value, this doesn’t play a large role in the value of a coin in terms of numismatic collecting.
If a coin is rare, it is not very common. Usually, the rarer a coin is, the more it’s worth. For example, gold coins minted before 1933 (and even more so those minted in 1933) are extremely rare, and are therefore worth more than non-gold coins from the same period.
The grade of a coin refers to the condition it’s in. The scale typically ranges from Good (worst) to Mint State (best), with a range of conditions in between. Grade is determined by how clear the details of the coin are, how shiny it is, and if there are any other imperfections that could have occurred from circulation, such as rubbing against other coins in a pocket, being dropped in a puddle, or simply being handled by hundreds of people. Grade plays a large role in defining how much a coin is worth.
Your coins are often rare and valuable—you should take care of them like the treasures they are! Properly storing your coins will prevent them from being damaged or lost.
One of the most popular ways to store your coins is in some sort of album or folder. These specialized books have slots created specifically for holding coins and identification cards, as well as keeping the coins free from dust and other outside contaminants.
Books are easily stored on a shelf or displayed on a coffee table, so people visiting your house can easily enjoy your collection!
Cases are a more heavy duty way to store your coins. Some are airtight, so they will nearly preserve the coins so there is no chance of anything foreign touching the coin! Coins are more difficult to showcase in cases. It is also a bulkier storage solution, so keep that in mind if space is a concern for you.
If you’re still feeling a little lost as to where to begin, here are a few basic coins to get you started!
These coins, minted in China, feature an adorable panda on the front! They are newly minted each year, so you can set out to collect one coin from each year!
Gold coins minted before 1933 are rare and a key part of American History, so they are a popular item for collectors to buy. The $20 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle is one such coin that is beloved by collectors. It’s a slightly larger investment, but it’s worth it!
These stunning gold coins are some of the most exquisite in the world! An intricate maple leaf is engraved into the front of the coin, honoring the country where the coin was minted, Canada!
Many people forget about collecting silver coins, but silver coins are not only beautiful, they’re often more affordable than gold ones! These 1964 Kennedy Silver Half Dollars are a great starter investment.
Start your coin collection today!