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Searching for a new hobby and not sure which one to take up?
Try coin collecting!
There are many hobbies that — like coin collecting — involve collecting, antiques, and art.
Let’s take a look at how coin collecting compares to other hobbies.
Coin Collecting: The Hobby Of Kings & Queens
You’ve probably heard the old saying that coin collecting is the “hobby of kings.”
Given that ancient royalty were among the first known collectors of coins thousands of years ago, there’s quite a bit of truth to the statement.
Of course, there are many great hobbies that date back centuries.
Coin collecting, though, is one that can young and old, rich and poor can enjoy.
Best of all, the coin collecting as a hobby can begin with the very coins you’re carrying around in your pocket or purse right now!
Reasons For Collecting Coins In The Past & Present
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.
Comparing Coin Collecting With Other Hobbies
Deliberating on what hobby to try can be a task for some. You’ll likely want to try a few out before settling in on one and going full blast.
Let’s check out some other hobbies and see how coin collecting compares…
Often, when coin collecting is discussed, stamp collecting also is brought up.
The two hobbies really aren’t that distant. After all, both hobbies involve collecting items which are used by the masses for commerce (and stamps, essentially, are used as money in postal terms).
Also like coins, postage stamps display some beautifully artistic designs. And there have been countless commemorative designs on stamps to honor special people, places, events, and anniversaries.
As far as budgeting, stamp collecting can be just as expensive as coin collecting. After all, there are plenty of scarce and rare postage stamps available — if that’s what you choose to collect.
Ever hear of the Inverted Jenny? The classic plane on this 1918 postage stamp was accidentally printed upside down, and specimens of this famous error stamp now sell for over $500,000!
Sports Card Collecting
While sports cards aren’t legal tender and won’t help you mail a letter, they have for decades been the hobby of choice for millions of boys and men — and many girls, too.
The allure of sports cards is easy to understand. They’re collectible, easily purchased at grocery stores and convenience stores, and they feature stats and color photos of the athletes and personalities we admire.
Sports cards saw prominence in the middle of the 20th century, but remain popular today.
And as cheap as sports cards can be for common ones, there are quite a few that’ll cost a pretty penny to place into a collection. for example, the 1909 Honus Wagner rookie card is worth $300,000!
Comic Book Collecting
Who doesn’t need a good laugh every now and then?
Comic books have long provided young people (and those young at heart) a good dose of chuckles with spellbinding stories and clever narrations.
Many comic books (especially those of yesteryear) have since become rare collectibles that garner the attention of comic book aficionados and those who are interested in recapturing a piece of their youth.
While there are plenty of classic comic books that are worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, there are some rarer issues of more recent titles that also command 3- and 4-digit pricetags.
One of the most popular and rarest comic books is the Action Comics #1 from 1938, featuring the debut of all-American hero Superman. That’s a comic book worth a super $470,000!
Fast Food Toy Collecting
If you’re in your 30s or younger, you probably begged your parents to buy you the kid’s meal at your favorite fast food chain — just so you could get the toy of the week.
Well, now many of those fast food toys are worth far more than they cost your mom and dad back in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s.
Many of the fast food chain restaurants offered toys, and therefore the fast food toy market is full of a colorful array of restaurant mascots, cartoon and movie characters used under license, and even plush dolls and mechanical toys that filled the bottom of greasy food boxes and kiddie bags from yesteryear.
….And don’t forget cereal box toys!
Before Kindle and iPad, we had books.
Who doesn’t love a good book? And, with so many published each and every year, there are bound to be (pun intended) plenty of classics which become collector favorites. Some even become rare — either through limited quantities of the originals or the destructive passage of time.
Books are often collected by genre, series, or time period (similar to coins). However, some book collectors simply collect whatever strikes them.
With the Holy Bible among the world’s most popular and quoted book, it’s no surprise that early copies of the Gutenberg Holy Bible are a favorite and rare collector item. In fact, one leaf of a 1455 Gutenberg Holy Bible sold for $74,000. Entire copies are usually found at museums and have been sold over the years for amounts over $2 million.
Oh, and by the way, one famous series of books to collect is A Guide Book of United States Coins! You’ll find value listings for old editions of the annually published series toward the end of every recent Red Book.
I’m the Coin Editor here at TheFunTimesGuide. 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 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 authored nearly 1,000 articles here at The Fun Times Guide to Coins (many of them with over 50K shares), and I welcome your coin questions in the comments below!