Get the latest news on new arrivals, gifts, special offers and other discount information.
Coin collecting used to be called “the hobby of kings” because centuries ago, kings were the only ones wealthy enough to be able to save coins. Fortunately, you don’t have to be rich to collect coins these days. But how do you get started? It’s very easy. First, narrow down what coins you would like to focus on. Many people start with pennies. You can collect a year set or you can be more ambitious and collect the different mint marks for each year.
Next, educate yourself. It doesn’t take months of training, but you do need to know what to look for. Imagine collecting pennies and spending all your time looking for an elusive 1966 Denver Mint penny – when it doesn’t exist! So, make a smart investment and buy yourself The Official Red Book, A Guide Book of US Coins. The Red Book, as it’s more commonly called, is recognized as the premiere resource for U.S. coin collectors. No collector should be without reference guide to help.
You can pick up a copy of the Red Book on Amazon, B&N, or at any library.
The next thing you’ll want to decide is how to store your coin collection. Piggy banks and coffee cans are great for savings, but you don’t want to store your collection there!
Albums are a great way to go because they typically have a space for every year/mint mark/variety. They are an easy, safe, and impressive way to store and display your collection. These folders are an affordable way for new collectors to start putting together a set of coins.
What about gloves? Well, you should only handle or pick up a coin by its edges, and you should never touch the surface of the coin. Gloves protect a coin's surfaces and designs from the natural oils in fingers or palms that can be corrosive over time. Even though you are probably starting out with circulated coins, it’s a good habit to get into to hold the coin properly. And while we’re on the subject, never be tempted to clean your coins! Improper coin cleaning, more than anything else, has damaged expensive pieces and caused a decrease in value.
Where do I find coins? One of the easiest and most surprising places is your local bank. You can buy rolls of coins and search through them. You can join a local coin club and trade coins to fill in the gaps in your collection. There are coin shops, flea markets, television shows and websites!
So, what’s the most popular, affordable and easy-to-complete set? State Quarters, of course!
The State Quarters series started in 1999, and each year five different coins were issued to honor five different states. The series was extended in 2009 to include the District of Columbia and the five overseas U.S. territories. By the time the series ended, it included 56 unique Quarters. Each coin was a strictly limited edition of only about 10 weeks, and the coins can never be made again. The statehood quarters are a coin set that is fun for everybody — whether you’ve been collecting coins for years, or if you’ve never collected coins before.
On the heels of the State Quarters program came the America the Beautiful, or more commonly known as the National Park Quarters series. In 2010, the United States Mint began issuing 56 quarter-dollar coins featuring designs depicting national parks and other national sites. While the State Quarters were released in the order in which each State entered the Union, the Parks Quarters are released in the order in which the locations were first established as a national site. Both these series are fun and educational and are available in Philadelphia and Denver Mints. You can collect one of each or try and collect each mint mark.
Another popular and educational collection are the Presidential Dollars. In 2007, the U.S. Mint began honoring every deceased President of the United States on Golden Dollar Coins. Four coins were released each year, with a total of 39 coins in the series. When the program completed in 2016, former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama were still alive and ineligible to have a coin issued. An interesting feature of these coins is the inscribed lettering along the edge of the coin indicating the year of minting, the mint mark, thirteen stars, the motto In God We Trust and the legend E Pluribus Unum. Many people were unaware of the edge lettering and there was a national outcry, and the Mint moved the words “In God We Trust” to the obverse in 2009.
But what about the purported “Godless Dollars”? The edge lettering is applied in a separate process after the coins are struck. In early 2007, the Philadelphia Mint released a batch of coins without the edge lettering. Not only were they Godless, they were dateless! The Mint issued a statement on March 7, 2007, saying that "an unspecified quantity of these coins inadvertently left the United States Mint at Philadelphia without edge-lettering on them." True error coins, these Presidential Dollars often sell for more than fifty times their face value!
History, culture, error coins, fun facts, increased value – these are just the many reasons why so many people collect coins. It doesn’t take much to start – before you know it you’ll be hooked – and on your way to becoming a “Numismatist".