The Best Way to Begin Coin Collecting

The best way to begin coin collecting is by learning all you can about it. Whatever it was that got you interested has done you a favor. Coin collecting is a hobby that can grab you by the tail and never let go. But that is a good thing. Building a coin collection can be a bit like accumulating bookmarks while surfing the Internet. One great find leads to another!

Ask a coin collector how he got started in the hobby and you will likely be told about —
receiving coins from an older relative, or —
rediscovering the pocket change from a recent foreign vacation, or —
finding old coins in a forgotten dresser drawer, or —
hearing a news story about a fabulous price paid for a rare coin at auction, or —
locating a barely definable old coin with a metal detector in the backyard, or —
seeing a close-up shot of a stack of twenty dollar gold pieces on a high stakes poker table in a Western movie, or —
reading about the recovery of a centuries old cargo of silver coins from a Spanish treasure galleon, or —
finding an odd coin on the sidewalk, under the bed, or lodged deep within the spicy confines of a macho-combo burrito. (It could happen.)

Whatever the circumstances, I challenge you to find a serious coin collector who cannot recall why and how he got hooked on building a collection of meaningful coins.

Meaningful coins?

The ones worth big bucks, right?

Sure. If you are into coins strictly for their market value, then yes, high value coins are where you want to be. (But be sure and learn how to grade coins and gain some knowledge about what makes one coin worth more than another.)

On the other hand, many collectors are just as passionate about their coins for other reasons, not quantifiable in the coin market. Coins are so often tokens of curiosity about people, places, and historical events.

Every coin has a story. Every coin collection is as well a collection of these stories. Take your cue from these stories as a direction for your collecting.

The longer you collect, the more you will learn. The more you learn the more meaningful will be your collection. And it will lead you down some fascinating paths.

When an old family friend gave me a tattered old bill from his wallet, it expanded my interest in coins to include paper money. My friend had carried this note for years as a familiar oddity — a conversation piece perhaps. Only recently I have discovered that this old Confederate dollar bill was, in fact, a counterfeit. But, of course, there was more to the story. That is on my website at [http://www.valuable-coin-stories.com/old-paper-money.html]

About The Author:

David W. Baker has collected coins since age 11 — so, more than half a century. Coins have been a pleasant distraction for him over the years. Though he’s never been a coin dealer, he has have occasionally sold a coin or two at a nice profit, when the market was right. These experiences taught him a bit about coin value in the marketplace. But, he would be the first to say that his greatest pleasure with coins has been the hooks they have to history and other areas of learning. Dave says that he can never quite get beyond the feeling that, if any of his coins could talk, the stories would be priceless!

Metal Detector Coins – What to Expect

Metal detector coins are really no different than other coins, except that at some point in the past, they were lost. As the technology of detectors has improved, so have these devices become more available. Many a coin collector has emerged from an afternoon of searching a beach, an old playground, or even a backyard.

So what kind of coins can I expect to find with a metal detector?

Depending on where you look, you could find virtually any type of coin that has ever been made. Remember that everyone has lost a bit of pocket change along the way, and most of us have found some as well.

What kind of coins do you want to find?

What would be more exciting to find – a modern dime or quarter made by the bazillions from a tough copper-nickel alloy, or a solid silver coin made when your great grandfather was a small boy?

Think about it… coins are made to circulate among people who earn and spend them. Coins have been spent for almost anything, and anywhere. With a bit of thought, you can imagine where larger groups of people would have congregated, what attracted them to that place, and what they would have spent their money on.

Was there an amusement park located near your town in years gone by? When the circus came to town, where did it put up its tents? Is there a lake with a beach that people have gone to for years? What about schools, playgrounds, areas with older homes? (Be very sure you get permission to do your search. Metal detecting is not a license to trespass.)

Learning the history of your own community, speaking with older relatives and friends – mining their memories – can provide the clues you need to get started.

What kind of coins can be found with a metal detector?

Again, almost any kind of coin that has ever been made. Modern detectors are designed to discriminate between different metals. And it is possible to filter the feedback from the device to emphasize or exclude coins of one composition or another.

Can I find valuable coins?

Most of what you will find will be common rather than rare. After all, most of the coins in circulation now, as in the past, are common within their historical context.

But don’t forget, prior to 1965 dimes, quarters, and halves were made of 90 percent silver. And prior to 1933 gold coins were in use.

Won’t they be kind of messed up from being in the ground, or underwater?

Sure.

They’ll be heavily tarnished and dirty for the most part. You’ll be tempted to clean them, but don’t. Collectors pay much less for coins that have been cleaned. They like them undisturbed. And since you may well be on the way to becoming a coin collector yourself, you will want to keep your coins as original as possible.

Two final thoughts on coins found while metal detecting. First, these coins are acquired at no cost, other than what you’ve spent on your detector. (Don’t count the value of your time – this is fun, not work!) Second, you are receiving each coin, not from a coin dealer or an auction, but from the hand of the person who lost it. That connects you with people and events of another time in a way rather different from reading a history book.

Popular Places For Buying Collectible Coins

If you are a coin collector, one of the joys of collecting is spending a considerable amount of time finding coins. Coin collecting is a bit like treasure hunting in that you are constantly looking for certain coins to complete a collection or just looking for a certain coin that you find intriguing.

Finding coins for sale can be a bit of a learning experience for new collectors who may not know where to look to find coins that are for sale. Below is a list of places and venues that you can buy coins.

Internet Auctions

Internet auctions such as eBay have become a very popular place to find coins. Buyers from around the world list coins for sale on eBay in hopes of attracting many buyers. The success of eBay’s coin collecting section has been very well received in the numismatic community and many members of the community frequently buy and sell through Internet auctions.

Coin Shows

Coin shows have been around for years and are a great place to network with other coin collectors. Generally they are setup on weekends in hotel convention rooms or other public halls. A large number of collectors set up tables or booths and display the coins that they have for sale. This can be a great place to learn from other more seasoned coin collectors.

Flea Markets

Weekend flea markets are setup many times on weekends and carry just about anything that you can think of. Frequently coin collectors will set up tables at Flea Markets in hopes of displaying their coins and other antique to hungry buyers.

Estate Auctions

This is a very common place to buy antiques in general. Many elderly people, upon passing away have their assets liquidated through the means of an auction sale where everything is sold. Often these people had small coin collections that date back many years. Once in a while a very valuable coin is sold at an estate auction. It’s unlikely that the deceased owner knew that they were holding onto a coin of such high value.

Coin Related Periodicals

Coin newspapers and magazines that are published on a weekly or monthly basis are a great place to learn about coins. They also contain advertisements for coin stores and large coin dealers so that you can contact these people about certain coins that you wish to buy or sell.

Antique Stores

These are retail stores operated specifically to sell antiques. Usually filled with furniture and other old knick-knacks, sometimes they will have a small coin collection for sale.

Coin Shops

These are becoming less frequent today because of the high cost of doing business in a physical building, vs. the low cost of operating on the Internet, but they are still around. Many times these retail stores have been around for many years and the owners have a great degree of knowledge about the products that they sell. Generally, because they are being sold in a retail environment, you may have to pay a premium to buy there.