Getting Started on a Coin Collecting Hobby

Through the decades, people have collected coins for different reasons. In the past, when coins were made of gold, these were collected mainly for their intrinsic value. As far back as the 1st century, accounts show that the Roman emperor Augustus already had a form of coin collecting hobby. He gathered exotic coins which he used to give away as gifts.

Coin collecting today is frequently referred to as numismatics. Strictly speaking though, numismatics is a broader discipline which devotes itself to the study and collection of different types of currency while coin collecting limits its interest to the acquisition of coins. Still, using numismatics as a name for coin collection has become commonly accepted.

The Kind of Collector You Want to Be

peace_dollarIf you want to start collecting coins as a hobby, it is important that you decide what kind of a collector you want to be. You may want to start a coin collection as a serious investor. You may even want to gather certain coins because of their metal value which can be almost twice their face value as currency.

Photo credit: rclatter / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: rclatter / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Or, like many collectors, you may want to collect coins just for fun without care as to type, condition or value of the coins gathered. Your interest in coins may be so expansive that you want to take in many different types of coins. This would make you a generalist like the exiled king of Egypt, King Farouk, who had accumulated 8,500 rare coins and medals at the time of his death.

Investing in Your Collection

You will have to invest not just time and effort but also money in your coin collection unless you plan to gather coins randomly without attaching any importance to value. Make no mistake about it; a coin collecting hobby can cost you a pretty penny.

Expenses in the proper collection of coins will include the cost of basic tools such as a reference book on coins, albums or holders to classify and keep your collection, gloves and a strong magnifying glass. Usually, serious collectors keep a jewelers’ loupe as well. The cost for all these items will be in the neighborhood of fifty dollars. You can look for free reference materials to bring this figure down but if you are bent on pursuing this hobby in earnest, sooner or later you will have to buy a good reference book that you can keep on hand all the time.

Of course on top of the tools you will be using, as a serious coin collector you will be buying some items to add to your stash. A coin can cost anywhere from $10 to $100,000 so it will be up to you to decide on a budget and stick to it.

Deciding What Kind of Coins You Will Collect

Unless you want to be a generalist, it would be good to focus on the kind of coins you will collect. Some collect coins based on country of origin while some do this based on design. Others will gather coins based on the year or the period they were minted or the subject depicted on them. There is a wide range of choices in terms of the kind of coins you want to look for and keep. However, it would be wise to first take stock from the beginning of what you already have and how much you intend to spend.

Photo credit: mr.smashy / Foter / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: mr.smashy / Foter / CC BY-NC
For the person wanting to grow their collection of silver coins, collecting pre-1965 dimes, quarters, and half-dollars might be a good choice. Don’t be misled by the term used to describe these coins – “junk silver”, as they are definitely not junk.

Learning about the Hobby

A coin collecting hobby can be enriched by the wealth of information readily available today about the topic. If you want to indulge in your hobby in an organized and knowledgeable way, find out everything you can about coin condition and value. Practice your hand at examining coins based on universally accepted standards in coin collection. Join a group that shares the same hobby and learn everything you can. If you go into collecting with skill and enthusiasm, your collection of coins can present you with a vast and interesting new world that you can fully enjoy by yourself or with the participation of friends and family.

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