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What Coins Should I Collect?

January 7, 2019 0 Comments

In recent weeks we have been talking about coin collecting itself, rather than particular coins, and since there is so much to say on this topic, we are continuing the theme this week, with some answers to the basic question of new collectors, “So I want to collect coins, where do I start?”

The simplest answer is to start anywhere, but that doesn’t really help much! A better answer might be to point out that most coin collections are just that – collections – not a random bag of coins. Collections with a theme or a goal turn into a whole that is greater than its parts. A single America the Beautiful quarter might be interesting, but a set of each and every one made is so much more interesting, and so of much greater value. This is a simple example, but the principles holds even for collections of, say, rare pre-civil war American coins.

For a beginner it is best to choose a simple feature to guide your collection. You might have two or three themes if you are more ambitious. Some simple themes for a collection might be:

  • All the coins minted in a particular year: This could be the basis of a collection covering many countries, or within one country. The particular year could be anything from the year of your own birth to the coins of a particular Presidential term.
  • A variation on this idea would be to collect a full set of some coin – the Golden Eagle Dollar for example, for every year it was minted. Mints often make this easy, by issuing collections of a particular coin – and they do the same for particular years too.
  • design theme: Such collections are always popular, and a great way to start collecting. Choose something you are already interested in – dogs, wildflowers, a sport, art, superheroes – and then find all the coins you can that depict these things.
  • Historic period: In a way this is another theme, but If you have an interest in some historic time, such as WWII, or the Civil War, that provides an obvious period, and makes for a very interesting collection. This idea would also include more distant historic coins, so for example those of the Roman Empire, or of Empires that once existed, but have vanished.
  • Composition and metals used: This is popular with anyone who looks at the intrinsic value of their collection as its melt value, and it can be lucrative, if you time buying and selling well. Obvious choices are gold or silver, but rarer metals like Palladium and Titanium are popular too.

Some Basic Collecting Tools

Once you start collecting you need to organize and handle your collection. Some simple, basic tools make it easier:

  • A magnifying glass: 7x is popular with coin collectors, and it makes examining the detail of coins so much easier.
  • Cotton gloves: These keep your coins clean and free of corrosive sweat, oils or anything else that may be on your hands
  • A data base: collectors used to use index cards, but today a spreadsheet is more likely. Just remember to keep it backed-up, or as an up-to-date printout.
  • Reference books: The internet is a great resource, but for more specialized information you still need some of the classic coin reference books, suitable for your collection.
  • Storage: Find a suitable system – folders, drawers, cases, or whatever suits your taste and budget. Coins lying around in a drawer are not a good collection, and will become scratched, reducing their value.

We hope these hints are useful – happy collecting!

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