Tips for New Collectors
As with any new endeavor, becoming a successful coin collector requires that you spend a little time learning the rules of the road. This site is loaded with information to help you make good purchasing decisions, protect your treasured coins, and in general enjoy the hobby to the fullest. Here we’ll just outline some basic tips for new collectors to help you get off on the right foot.
- Start Small. It is not necessary to begin buying expensive coins in order to begin building a solid, gratifying collection. In fact many seasoned collectors started out collecting pocket change. If you are in the United States, the hunt for circulating Lincoln Cents is a time honored tradition. In production since 1908, the rich variety of Lincolns in pockets, purses and piggy banks could occupy you for years. Along the way, a nice Lincoln Cent collection will have much to teach you about coin grading, die varieties, mint marks and other numismatic topics. If you have friends, family or colleagues who travel, be sure to ask them to save coins for you. More often than not, someone who has been out of their native country will return with a pocket full of coins that they will be happy to pass along. If you do decide to get started through buying instead of searching, choose an affordable series or area. Just because a coin is old or of historical interest, does not necessarily mean it is very expensive. Bronze coins from the Roman Empire and circulating coinage from 19th century Europe have many accessible examples to offer. Silver Mercury and Roosevelt United States dimes represent an affordable entry point to the hobby and make for a very handsome display of which any collector can be proud.
Be Methodical And Collect With Purpose. As you set your sites on acquiring coins from a series or specialty area, make a plan and stick to it. Lay a solid foundation for the collection by pursuing the more common items in the series first and then build up to a pursuit of the more elusive items. By adhering to this simple philosophy you will develop your expertise in the series as you work, and can be an expert in the area before you go after the grand prize.
Buy The Book Before You Buy The Coin. This little phrase is one you’ll hear repeated again and again in coin collecting circles. Numismatics is a scholarly pursuit. Reading the researched wisdom of those who have walked this path before will help save you from avoidable mistakes and better appreciate the subtleties of the hobby.
Invest In Your Supplies. In the beginning, your supplies and displays are likely to be more expensive than the coins you are handling and storing. This is OK! Quality supplies, holders and albums protect your coins from damage and add value to your collection.
Pursue Quality. Nobody ever regretted building a coin collection based on the pursuit of quality. All collectors are faced with a fundamental choice; for any given budget and any given specialty area you can either buy fewer high grade coins or buy more lesser grade coins. Ultimately you will need to find your own balance, and it is very reasonable (and practical) to not always buy the absolute best available examples. However poor quality coins should be avoided whenever possible.
- Go To Coin Shows. In this age of easy online shopping, it is tempting to do all of your collecting from the comfort of home. Do yourself a favor and go to a coin show. A decent sized show will bring dozens of dealers and hundreds of collectors under one roof. It is a great way to meet people that share your common interest. Even if you are not particularly outgoing, being around dealers and collectors can give you an enhanced sense of what it means to be a numismatist that is hard to get from a book or website.