Why Collect Coins? Reasons For Collecting Coins In The Past & Present

Why do you collect coins? There are as many reasons as there are coin collectors in this world. Photo by Hamad Al Raisi on Flickr.Have you ever asked yourself why you collect coins?

I mean, really – what keeps you motivated to stay in the hobby? What do you like about coin collecting? And, when is it that you first realized you were a coin collector?

For me, my foray into coin collecting began when I found a 1941 Lincoln wheat cent in some allowance money I was given when I was 11 years old in 1992. I was intrigued by that old coin, and wanted to learn more about it and find other wheat cents. Within a couple months, I had books about coin collecting, a few Lincoln cent coin folders, and a small but growing collection of coins. I am now a self-avowed expert on Lincoln cents and many other types of coins.

Of course, we each have a story about how we got involved in this ages-old pastime. For some people, they may have been lured into the hobby by the beauty of old coins. Or, it might be certain types of designs, such as those of animals, plants, or even food.

In many cases, it is the hope of buying an old coin that might someday be worth much more than paid for it. Rarity, too, is a draw for many coin collectors who want to grab a piece of a very small pie. Or, if you’re like the bulk of coin collectors, you might be clamoring to fill agonizingly empty holes in your coin folders.


Why People Collected Coins In Ancient Times

No matter what it is that keeps you motivated to search, buy, and study coins, there is a certain magnetism about the hobby that manifests itself in different ways to different people.

The mystique of collecting coins goes back to the time of ancient kings and queens, who enjoyed collecting coins for their artwork. In those days, coins were hand-struck by a hammer, and coin blanks weren’t always perfectly round, meaning each finished coin had a unique look.

As we know, though, collecting coins for their beauty didn’t die with the fall of Rome, though. In the 17th and 18th century, many among Europe’s high society were collecting ancient coins, including kings, princes, and other nobility.

In those times, collecting coins was something that only the wealthy could afford to do, which explains the popular moniker that has long followed coin collecting: “The hobby of kings.”


Why People Collect Coins Today

By the time the 1800s steamed in, Enlightenment thinking and more systematic approaches to studying coins gave birth to modern-day numismatics.

As the hobby became more pluralistic in numerous ways, many members of the middle classes began pursuing the hobby, both out of sheer interest and to exude a sense of sophistication.

Coin collecting in the United States was mainly a continuation of the pastime as it was back in the Old Country – a hobby pursued by those of some means who appreciated and wanted to study examples of older coinage.In the U.S., many early collectors focused on colonial coins, ancients, some European coins, and some even were already turning their attention to early U.S. coins like Bust dollars, Capped Bust gold coins, and the like.

It wouldn’t be until the 1930s when the introduction of penny boards, which were the forerunners of the modern-day coin folders, would create a whole new phenomenon in coin collecting: collecting coins by date and mintmark. Date-and-mintmark collecting would reach frenzied heights during the 1950s and 1960s, but even today, a good many coin collectors (including yours truly) enjoy the myriad challenges of completing an entire series of coins.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez

My love for coins and numismatics began when I was 11 years old. I primarily collect and study U.S. coins produced during the 20th century. I'm a member of both the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG). I've also been studying meteorology and watching weather patterns for years. I enjoy sharing little-known facts and fun stuff about coins, weather, travel, health, food, and living green.

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