Well, it is. But coin collectors also need to keep track of the coins they are putting into their collection.
A coin inventory (or coin log) is something that every coin collector needs to have. Keeping track of your coins is important for these reasons:
- Knowing which coins you already have
- Knowing which coins you still need
- Determining the value of your coin collection quickly & easily
- Getting an at-a-glance look at the many coins in your collection
- Documenting your collection for coin insurance purposes
About My Coin Inventory Logs
When I first started collecting coins, I looked right away into keeping track of what I had.
After all, it was sort of fun listing all the coins I had acquired.
And on a more practical level, it was important for me to know what coins I had so I knew which ones I needed to complete my ever-expanding coin collection.
While I didn’t put much thought into the matter at first, I soon came to realize the value of keeping a coin inventory. A coin inventory is vital during in the event of a property emergency. For example, a theft, fire, flood, or other disaster will mean my having to know which coins I own — for insurance and recovery purposes.
Free Coin Inventory Methods
The logs I use to record my coin holdings are “manual” or hard-copy log sheets.
There also are several coin inventory books published which are pre-designed to aid collectors in recording their coins.
I discuss making your own “manual” coin logs below. For now, let’s focus on the coin inventories that you can buy at coin dealers or bookstores.
Whitman, which produces the annual Guide Book to United States Coins (popularly called “The Red Book”), publishes a coin inventory log book. The Official Red Book Collector’s Inventory of United States Coins is a spiral-bound book which has a list price of $9.95.
Coin Inventory Software
Coin inventory software is another way to keep track of the coins in your collection.
Coin inventory computer programs use spreadsheets, boxes, and windows to input and save information about the coins in your collection.
One of the more prominent coin inventory software available is Coin Collector’s Assistant by Carlisle Development Corporation. The program has detailed information, including pricing, for several U.S. coin series. This program also allows you to insert listings for coins not already pre-programmed into the CD-ROM.
How To Make Your Own Coin Inventory Logs
While you can easily go buy a coin inventory log book or coin inventory software, you can also create your own coin inventory using everyday notebook paper.
This is, personally, my favorite way to go. Creating a coin inventory from notebook paper allows me to adjust, add, or make changes to my coin inventory whenever necessary.
Whatever you do, make sure you keep at least one copy of your coin inventory in a lock box, vault, or safe-deposit box so it will always be safe and handy should you need it.
At the absolute minimum, you should include the following information for each coin you have on your coin inventory sheet:
- Year of the coin
- Mint mark on the coin
- Country of origin
It is optimal if you include the following details as well:
- Grade of the coin
- “Type” of coin, or name of the design
- Comments about any errors or “variety” remarks about the design
- Comments on the coin’s physical condition (such as “cleaned,” “scratched,” “bent,” etc.)
- Comments about when you acquired the coin
- Comments about what you paid for the coin
- Update periodically the value of your coin
Here is an example of a good entry in a coin inventory log:
1907-S Barber Half-Dollar (USA) Good, Small Nick 3:00 Obverse. Paid $4.75 11/3/1994 Worth $14 3/6/2009
My love for coins 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 the American Numismatic Association (ANA) and the Numismatic Literary Guild (NLG) and have won multiple awards from the NLG for my work as a coin journalist. I'm also the editor at CDN Publishing (a trusted source for the price of U.S. rare coins), editor at the Florida United Numismatists Club (FUN Topics magazine), and author of Images of America: The United States Mint in Philadelphia (a book that explores the colorful history of the Philadelphia Mint). I've contributed hundreds of articles for various coin publications including COINage, The Numismatist, Numismatic News, Coin Dealer Newsletter, Coin Values, and CoinWeek. I've also authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins — and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!