If you’re just starting to get into coins, there’s a lot you don’t know. Even if you’ve been in the hobby for decades, you still don’t know most things about coins. If you’re a beginner, don’t feel like you need to learn everything, but also don’t skip the learning and the reading. It’s important to learn how to be a collector and to learn about the coins you are buying, but you aren’t going to be an expert in a few months. Following are some tips for starting out.
1.) Learn About Coins
There’s the common saying “Buy the book before the coin.” Going right into buying rare coins is like jumping into the deep end of a pool the first time you ever swim. Learn the basics, go to shows, and don’t buy anything for a while. You need to learn what’s out there, learn the prices, learn about the different types of coins, and most importantly, learn what you like. I really like Early American Copper coins. I didn’t discover that the first day of collecting. I discovered that after about three years. The first thing that stands out is not necessarily “the coin” or “the series.” It’s something you like, but it may not be what you will end up being serious about collecting.
Two of the most important books everyone should own is The Official Red Book: A Guide United States Coins. This is sometimes called “the bible” of coin collecting. It includes prices and basic history about each coin. This is the number one most important coin book and is also a good basis for prices. The Coin Collector’s Survival Manual by Scott A. Travers is another great book you should read when starting out and even advanced collectors may be able to learn a thing or two from the book.
2.) Set A Budget
This is super important. Before you buy your first coin, figure out your budget. For Young Numismatists, that might be simple, whatever money you get can be used towards coins. Most collectors are adults and, unfortunately, adults have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and emergency funds. Make a yearly budget for your collection based on what you can spend. If anything, be strict when creating your budget. Don’t go over what you can comfortably spend while still keeping all your finances good and leaving plenty of room for savings. Once you make your budget, stick to it! If you get a job that pays more, you may consider bumping your coin budget up some and if an emergency occurs and more money needs to be spent, you should definitely bump down your budget.
3.) What Coins Collect
This is based solely on personal preference. We will discuss mostly US coins, but world coins and currency are definitely great options if you’re interested in a different realm of collecting. Many new collectors believe that classic coins are too expensive and that they need to buy modern coins. This is entirely false. Of course, modern coins are generally much cheaper than many classic coins, there are the exceptions. Also, the mintage numbers of modern coins are generally much higher than classic coins, which means you will get a much rarer and more exclusive piece by purchasing classic coins. That being said, it is all personal preference. If you like Coin Roll Hunting, moderns are the sets for you! You can find circulated examples of National Park Quarters in bank rolls, for example. Don’t overpay for an otherwise normal uncirculated modern coin that is worth face value.
4.) Should Coins Be Certified?
Yes and no. If you are purchasing coins valued at below $100, let’s say, there’s really no need for the coins to be professionally graded and authenticated. A modern coin you buy for a couple of dollars would (presumably) be authentic. Classic coins are a different story, however. Some people don’t like certified coins and would prefer their coins raw and that’s okay, as long as they know how to grade and authenticate. The best benefits of certified coins are the grade and authenticity of the coin. If you are buying a classic coin, there is more of a need for grading. Cleaned coins, damaged coins, etc. Are worth significantly less. If you aren’t good enough to determine whether a coin has been cleaned, been damaged, etc., certification is a great idea. Make sure to use professional services, however. PCGS and NGC are considered top-tier, while ANACS and ICG are considered second-tier. If a coin is graded by any other company, do not take into consideration the grade and look at the coin as if it was raw.