For starters, novelty coins mean different things to different collectors.
Some find novelty coins sentimental. Others like the unique nature of the novelty coin.
Many collectors like the designs found on novelty coins.
Novelty coin collecting has its devoted followers, and to these collectors, some novelty coins hold significant monetary value.
Novelty Coins = Exonumia
Novelty coins generally include
- elongated coins
They are often legal tender coins that have been privately modified or altered in some way after being minted.
However, generally the act of collecting novelty coins falls into the category of “exonumia.”
Exonumia refers to objects that are produced to resemble coins (but not public legal tender) — such as medals and tokens.
Examples of exonumia items:
- gambling chips
- casino chips
- tokens produced by stores for redemption of goods
Those who study and collect such novelty coins are called exonumists.
While exonumia items usually do not have the same kind of wide market like legal tender coins do, certain exonumia items do hold significant value — especially to those who seek particular types of items.
Here are links to exonumia clubs, websites, and more.
Types Of Novelty Coin Collections
Let me put it this way: if you have an old token produced by a store that has a large following of loyal fans collecting its memorabilia, then you may find some people among these specific enthusiasts willing to pay a pretty penny for your piece. On the larger market, the token may not sell for very much.
- Collectors of theme park souvenirs may be willing to pay much more than other buyers for the elongated coins sold at these amusement parks.
- Many Civil War enthusiasts will go great lengths to obtain any of the various medals and tokens that private enterprises struck at the time.
- Wooden nickel and Hobo nickels have particularly large groups of collectors. In fact, Hobo nickels are one of the most popular examples of a type of novelty coin. Hobo nickels are Buffalo nickels (struck from 1913-1938) which have received intricate carvings on the Indian head and/or the buffalo images on these coins.
- If you have a medal bearing a depiction of some famous person with a large fan base, you will likely find higher offers to buy your piece among those fans than from typical buyers in the mass market who are rather indifferent to that celebrity or historic figure.
- Don’t forget, tokens produced by mass transit authorities also are popular among many, so never overlook these in your novelty coin collecting.
- Other types of novelty coins include those coins which look like legal tender but have been colorized and those that have had inscriptions or other images added to them. Many of these coins are very common, have little value, and are often sold through various types of outlets.
U.S. Mint Commemorative Coins
It is important to remember that commemorative coins produced by the United States Mint are not considered novelty coins.
These are legal tender coins that actually have fairly consistent, well-monitored, and widely cataloged values and prices.
U.S. Mint commemorative coins are simply referred to as commemorative coins and are listed, bought, and sold within that general category.
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!