Coin collecting means different things to different people. Some people take it more seriously than others. But no matter your level of interest, coin collecting will always be a great and rewarding hobby that you share with thousands of other collectors.
Why to Collect Coins
A coin collection is always worth more than its face value. A limited edition commemorative quarter might be worth 25 cents to a vending machine, but to other avid collectors who understand its true value and significance, it’s worth much more. And when you think about how many coins are made of precious metals that are always high in value, it’s no surprise that a coin collection can be a worthwhile investment. It is also something that you can give to a loved one if you are no longer able to care for it.
A coin is more than a medium of exchange. Each is a piece of history with its own story to tell about its era and peoples. Many major historical events have commemorative coins minted in their honour. And many coins are just so deeply rooted in history that while they may have meant little to the peoples of the time, the fact that they have been preserved through the ages is wondrous in its own right. And not all historically significant coins are old! Many recent events, and events that are yet to unfold, have or will inspire their own collector coins.
Coin collecting is about more than simply amassing as many coins as you can find. It’s about understanding and researching the significance of each one in your collection as well as the ones you intend to collect. For some people, the thrill of the hunt itself is exciting. And you can hear some truly incredible stories from fellow collectors when you meet them. And while a Hollywood-type car collection may not be practical for some of us, a coin collection is relatively easier to store and maintain.
Which Coins To Collect
The coins you decide to collect is entirely up to you, but there are a few ways on how to decide where to start or what you want your collection to focus on.
Era or Society
Theme or Design
Type of Purpose
Maybe you’re fascinated with a particular period or nation in history. Why not start there when it comes to collecting coins?
Some coin collections (or subsets of collections) are focused on one particular time period or society.
If you’re an animal lover, maybe you’d like to start collecting coins with designs of animals on them.
Some coin collections are focused on themes (like animals), and exhibit coins from around the world with similar designs on them.
You might decide to start collecting coins of a single type, for example, nickels or 5 cent pieces.
Besides being of the same type, coins may have the same purpose or inspiration for minting – for example, maybe there are quarters minted every 5 years to honour independence or universal suffrage of a certain country.
Understanding The Value Of Coins
The value of a particular coin is determined by a few factors, and experts will differ in a coin’s value subjectively.
Scarcity or Rarity
Condition and Quality
Coins in more limited quantities have greater values, and vice versa. If a certain coin is fairly simple to acquire because there are so many copies of it floating around the world, its value will be fairly low.
It can be tough to know how many coins like yours can be out in the world. In more modern cases, we often have figures for how many of a certain coin were minted (‘mintage’), or how many were released. For example, The Royal Mint of the United Kingdom provides mintage figures for reference.
were minted. Like any hard good, coins are prone to wear and tear. They can become worn or discoloured over time. A commemorative quarter minted 25 years ago has been wrapped in fabric and cared for as a collector’s item will have a greater value than a same edition quarter that has jangled around in pockets and dryers for the same time.
This is a clear and obvious example, but the real process for determining condition (‘grading’) is much more nuanced, and uses the 70-point Sheldon Scale in practice. The Professional Coin Grading Service (a recognized authority) offers more detailed resources about coin grading.
Dealers, graders, historians – whoever is grading the coin will have an opinion that is likely to differ from another’s. This is not to say anyone one appraisal is more valid than another, or that one opinion is correct while any others are incorrect.
Some officials may factor scarcity into a coin’s valuation more heavily than condition, or vice versa. It is unlikely that experts will produce vastly different valuations, but we suggest you consult more than one to get a good idea of your coin’s worth.