Coin Collecting 101 — Video Vignettes

This brief introduction to coin collecting for the beginner stresses the importance of deciding how to collect so that you can collect intelligently and derive the maximum amount of thrill from the hobby. Specific coin types are mentioned to help you focus on your collecting interests.


Hello. My name is Rod Gillis, and I’m the education director at the American Numismatic Association. And if you’re new to collecting, I’d like to spend a few moments talking with you about, perhaps the most important decision that you’re going to make in your collecting career. And that is, how to collect.


You know, one of the things that I especially enjoy about my job, is that I get to spend a lot of time talking with people who show me new ways that they collect. There are people who collect, of course, United States coins. There are people who collect world coins. There are people who collect coins from places that they’ve visited on vacation. There are people who collect coins from the year of their birth. There are people who collect stock certificates. And there are people who collect paper money. There are people who collect paper money if only there’s a horse on it, or if they can only find the color purple on the paper money. We can really spend all day talking about the different ways that people collect. Really, the only limitations to collecting are the way that the money that’s in your wallet, and the imagination that you have.

The two most popular ways that people collect are by type and by set. And what I mean by that, is that people collect by type, collect the finest example of a particular denomination of coin. So, for example, you might want to collect half dollars and you would try to find the finest example of a Barber Half Dollar, a Liberty Seated Half Dollar, a Walking Liberty Half Dollar, and so on. And that’s collecting by type. But probably the most popular way that people collect, is by set. And what I mean by that is people collect a particular coin, and they collect all of the years that that coin was minted and from all the mints that that coin was made.

Collecting by set is a great way to collect. And, again, it’s the most popular way. But I do want to give you some words of advice. I run across a lot of people who want to start off by collecting a very difficult set. So people come up to me very often and say, “Rod, I’m new to the collecting hobby, and I’m starting out by collecting a set of Morgan Dollars.” And when they say that to me, I sort of cringe inside, because collecting a set of Morgan Dollars is a very difficult proposition. It’s a very long set, and there are some very expensive coins within the set. And it’s awful tough when you’re a brand new collector to be able to put a set of Morgan Dollars together.

It’s best if you’re able to put a set together that isn’t nearly as difficult, and sort of get your feet wet, and get some experience in collecting before you tackle such a difficult set. So, for example, it would be a great idea to put a set together of Jefferson Nickels. A set of Jefferson Nickels is an easily accomplished set. As a matter of fact, the great thing about Jefferson Nickels is, is you’re able to pull a lot of them from your own change. You could also collect, for example, Roosevelt Dimes. Roosevelt Dimes is a great set to put together where you don’t have to spend a great deal of money, it’s not a long set. And then, after you’ve finished you can get that feeling of accomplishment.


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