Basic Coin Collecting Information: Why I Collect Coins + My Tips For Starting Your First Coin Collection

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A lot of people choose to become coin collectors for one reason or another:

  • Some like all the history behind certain coins.
  • Others like the designs themselves.
  • A great many people simply hold coins aside because they contain valuable metal content — like silver or even copper.

Other people stumble into the hobby of coin collecting “by accident”:

  • Maybe they received an inheritance and were intrigued by the coins that fell into their hands.
  • Perhaps a family member gave the budding hobbyist some old coins that would eventually fuel a love for coin collecting.
  • Or, maybe a news story about a valuable error coin found in circulation or some new coin design  (like the 50 state quarters) intrigued a new coin collector to get in on the action.

Following is my story — why I decided to start collecting coins.

I think you’ll see that not everyone starts out taking coins so seriously. Sometimes, it’s simply the interesting coins we find in our pocket change that lead us into this exciting hobby.

My Story

My journey in coin collecting started completely by accident, if you will.

I was 11 years old, and my mother was giving me some loose change for whatever small task or chore I did at that time.

I was counting the change I received and, in the palm of my hand, I saw a strange-looking U.S. penny. It had the regular portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the front, but on the back I saw two wheat stalks partially encircling the words “One Cent.” Hmm….

I looked at the date on the front of the coin and saw it was made in 1941. No joking here — I literally thought I had become a millionaire! To find a penny so old like that, I thought, was a rare occurrence. Also, the penny was in such good shape (even though it was worn), I really thought I had something museum-worthy.

Well, I was hooked in an instant.

I began checking all the coins that came in and out of my hands. I also began checking all the coins in my mother’s purse and father’s penny jug. Within days I had come across a 1946 Lincoln cent. My father also gave me a 1937 Lincoln cent he had in a drawer. Wow, all these old coins really were intriguing me.

I called some coin shops and tried to get the value of these coins. Of course, as many people are told when they find old coins and try to get appraisals, the coins had to be seen in person. When I described that my pennies were worn, I was told they were worth no more than 10 cents.

What?! 10 cents for my very old pennies? Well, I bought a coin value guide and, sure enough, found out that hundreds of millions of these pennies were made in the 1930s and 1940s. No matter, though. The thrill of the hunt had me, and I was well on my way to becoming a true coin enthusiast.

Within months, I was actively asking Mom and Dad to bring me by the local coin shop, I was buying coin books and magazines to read up on my new hobby, and I even attended a coin show at the age of 12.

My pursuit in the hobby was not about becoming a millionaire. Not in the least. In fact, the coins I was buying then and the coins I buy today are not particularly expensive. What brought me into the hobby, and what keeps me in the hobby today, is this:

  • The enjoyment of keeping my eyes on my pocket change for the unusual.
  • Shopping around for coins that I find interesting.
  • The excitement of trying to complete certain sets of coins.

Coin Collecting Provides a Lifetime of Enjoyment

Whatever the reason you get into coin collecting, the fact is you are enjoying a pastime that will literally last you forever. While a lot of recreations require physical ability, great expense, a lot of time, and other often-scarce resources, coin collecting need not be a burdensome pursuit.

Coins are as close by as your purse, pocket, or coin jar, and they can be had very inexpensively. Even if you are in coin collecting for “the money,” you don’t need to spend a lot to gain a lot. Many collectors have found rare and valuable coins right in their pocket change!

If you are not yet a coin collector but are considering giving the hobby a try, there is no better time than right now to jump in. Have fun on your coin collecting journey. It is a hobby that you can — and almost assuredly will — always find enjoyable.

As a beginner coin collector, some links you might find interesting you might find interesting include the U.S. Mint‘s website and the American Numismatic Association.

The U.S. Mint offers tons of historical and interesting information on the coins our nation has produced, and the American Numismatic Association (ANA) is a highly popular and respected organization devoted to those interested in coins. (The ANA was chartered in 1891.)

5 Quick & Easy Tips For Coin Collecting

Here are 5 quick coin collecting tips if you’re just starting out in the hobby:

  1. Always check every single coin that comes through your hands — to make sure you aren’t spending rare dates, error coins, or coins that you will need to fill your coin folders.
  2. Searching through coin rolls can often yield interesting finds!
  3. If you find collecting U.S. coins too expensive, try collecting foreign coins.
  4. Don’t forget to make use of coin dealers — they sell, buy, and trade all kinds of coins. They’re also a wealth of information and can answer most of your coin-related questions.
  5. Before dedicating yourself to collecting a certain type of coins… do your research to learn more about the prices, history, and other basic info about the specific coins you’re interested in.

…And A Bonus Tip…

Coin collecting is a hobby that you can enjoy for a lifetime and share with those you love.

If ever you feel like you’re getting bored with the hobby, try to set out collecting new and interesting coins that you haven’t spent time with yet. They may just be what it takes to add new sparks to the hobby for you!

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