Coin Collecting

Coin collecting is a wonderful way to trace the heritage of our country, as well as learn about the history of other countries through the design of their money.

Because collecting can get expensive quickly, most collectors choose to limit their collections to one particular era in history or a certain type of coin. However, coins aren't the only unit of money that is frequently collected. Some people enjoy collecting paper money as well, but coin collections are much more popular.

Collectible CoinCollectible Coin

The Type Coin Collection

One of the most popular and easy collections of coins is the "Type" collection. Collectors limit their search to one particular type of coin, for example, the State Quarters series issued by the U.S. Mint. Fifty different quarters with an image representative of each state completed the collection when the last one was minted in November of 2008, and collectors eagerly awaited the release of each new addition to their coin collection.

The Series Coin Collection

Another very popular type is the "Series" collection. The goal here is to collect one of every mint mark, date and any variations that were created of a particular type of coin. A good example is a series of quarters minted in the 1960's that were clad in silver rather than the combination of alloys used today. A series collector would endeavor to collect one quarter from each year they were minted and the different locations where they were minted.

Starting a Collection of Coins

The best way to start a coin collection is to buy a guidebook so you can take a look at the different coins that are available and estimate what kind of investment you will be considering. Guidebooks are revised yearly and are available at most bookstores. If you are just starting your collection it may be worth your while to pick up an older version at a used-books bookstore, just to give you an idea of what to expect.

Storage and maintenance of your coins

Once you've determined what kind of coin collection you prefer, it's best to select a storage system before you purchase any coins in order to make sure that your investments remain in the same condition as when you first bought them. This includes keeping your coins in a place with a moderate, consistent temperature and a minimum of humidity, in addition to selecting the right type of container.

There are different styles of holders for each grade of coin, from plastic baggies for coins that have been circulated to hard plastic capsules to keep high quality and valuable coins safe.

The most commonly seen type consists of two simple squares of mylar-lined cardboard with windows in the center which is sometimes called a "2x2" in the coin collector's world. A coin is placed between the two halves, which are then stapled or glued together to protect the coin from handling. While it is not as secure as a plastic capsule, it is acceptable for most mid-grade coins and the type you will most likely encounter when buying moderately priced coins.

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Handling your coins

More important than the storage system in the care of your collection is how you handle the coins. Less handling is better, of course, because the oils in your skin can damage the valuable lustre of the metal, but you will probably want to examine your coins from time to time. Most coins' holders will protect against normal handling, so it is preferable not to remove the coins from the holder unless absolutely necessary.

If you must remove it, many collectors of coins advocate the use of a pair of plain white cotton gloves to avoid any chance of getting skin oil, dye or moisture on the surface of the coin. Disposable cotton gloves are an inexpensive and excellent choice, but if you plan to re-use the gloves, washing them in a mild detergent is acceptable. Make sure, however, that they are rinsed well to avoid residue. No matter what kind of gloves you use, you will always want to handle coins by the edges to avoid damaging them. Even if you aren't handling a particularly valuable piece of your collection, it's best to get in the habit early.

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Buying and Selling Coins

When you are ready to add coins to your collection, there are a number of avenues you can take to find what you're looking for. The Internet, of course, is a ready source for collectors to buy and sell, and you can even put up classified ads to help find collectors who might be willing to trade stock with you. In addition, there are coin shops and coin catalogs that have a wide variety of different quality coins, and you can even try searching antiques dealers and estate sales to find some unexpected bargains.

As with any collectible, be sure to do your homework before you jump into the marketplace to avoid being taken advantage of. A scratch or spot that is barely visible to the naked eye can dramatically alter the value of a coin, and it is all too easy for an unscrupulous dealer to deceive a new collector.

Guide to coin collectingGuide to coin collecting

However, the world of coin collecting can be a truly fascinating one if the collector takes the time to educate him or herself properly before getting started. Who knows? You might even come across a real treasure in the most unexpected of places!

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