A Guide to Basic Coin Collecting

How many of us have found a penny on the ground and put it in our pocket? We put our loose change in a jar until it is full and then we are off to the nearest bank to collect our money. What if you had a valuable coin stashed away and never knew it? You may have missed a valuable coin worth a lot of money.

Now that I have you thinking, how does one begin to collect coins? You can do some very basic things. The first step of course is to collect the coins. Maybe your uncle has coins stuffed in a sock somewhere. Grandma may have forgotten about a coin collection that grandpa had in an old tin up in the closet. Let your family and friends know that you are starting to collect coins because they may have something to contribute.

coinsVisiting a coin store is a very good place to start because it gives you some ideas on the types of books and coins you will need to get your collection started. You may ask yourself, how do I know which coins to collect? One way to start coin collecting is to pick the day of your birth. You can add each year to present. If you are over 50, it may take you a while, but then you and your coins will have a nice long relationship. Sometimes there may be a coin that is passed down for a certain year. You may want to find a different coin for that same year. Every collector is different in what may interest him or her.

It is a good idea to purchase a Red Book, which is a guidebook of United States coins. Make sure it is up to date for the present year. There is also a Black Book, which also has good information but is limited in comparison to the Red Book. Some people prefer to have both books for reference.

Purchasing a magnifying glass is necessary for every collector to be able to see all the fine details. You may want to purchase a few coin protectors. These come in cardboard and Mylar plastic type. Another type of coin protector is a coin folder “Whitman Folder.” This folder has individual dated slots in which to place a corresponding coin. This is very easy, especially for beginning coin collectors and children who may want to collect coins. You may consider picking up a few coin tubes, especially if you have multiple coins of the same year or same type.

As you begin to collect coins, you may consider buying a pair of cotton gloves. These would be used for high-grade coins since our skin contains oils and dirt, which may be harmful and diminish the value. NEVER CLEAN COINS!!! Coins may look old, dingy and tarnished, but cleaning a coin can diminish its value.

gold coinsAttending local coin shows is another way to gain knowledge. Many vendors have a lot of experience in collecting and are more than happy to tell you about a certain coin. To find out what a coin is worth takes experience. This process is called grading. It is very important you gain knowledge about coin collecting by reading as many books on the subject. Two great magazines that offer much education are Coin World and Numismatic News. If you are serious, these two items will teach you a lot about collecting coins.

Coin collecting takes patience. Rome was not built in a day, so neither should your coin collection. Patience is a virtue. Buyer, please beware! It is best to buy from dealers or collectors who have been around the block. They are usually up to date with the market values and offer valuable information.

Grading is a skill that takes years to acquire. Coin grading is being able to look at a coin and approximate its value. Picking out a certain type of coin and learning its value may be a good place to start. Quantity is not always best. Having a few choice pieces is sometimes better. Budget yourself, as this is a hobby. Some high value coins can get rather expensive. Remember to start out small. As you learn about coin collecting, you may increase your collection.

Once you have the basics, you can move from domestic to foreign coins and bills. A simple way to familiarize yourself with grading is to go through your pocket change each day. Notice that some coins look shinier than others look, but have older dates? These coins may have not been circulated quite as much. A good coin collector is not one who necessarily collects just any old coin, but will try to upgrade their coin collection. This means to find a better looking and quality coin with the same year and mint mark to replace the one they currently have.

The most important advice I can leave you is to have fun. While coin collecting may seem to have a lot involved, the most important thing is that it should be enjoyed.


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