Getting the most out of a coin collection is a goal just about every collector holds. How to go about that is somewhat subjective. Luckily, there are some coin collecting secrets out there you can use to get the most out of your coin collection.
The top 5 coin collecting secrets are:
- Choose sellers carefully
- Appraise your coins early
- Don’t clean circulated coins
- Display your collection professionally
- Get the coins professionally graded
There is a lot more to it, however, than just slapping a coin into a plastic pouch and calling it a day. Below, we’ll go into more detail about each of these secrets, and discuss more ways to get the most out of your coin collection.
Your Collection Is Worth What You Make Of It
A coin collection is only worth the effort and time a collector puts into it. Neglect the collection and no one will appreciate its value or appeal. Take care of the collection and everyone will see it is something special as soon as they lay eyes on it.
For the serious collector, coins in a collection are stored in display containers or plastic holders and their value both as coins and as collectibles are obvious. Particularly special coins are marked as such and the history of the coin should be readily accessible. Some collectors focus their collection on a coin’s rich history.
The collection should also be organized, be it by type, date or significance. Every coin should be readily identifiable and accessible. Anyone looking at the collection should know they were looking at something special.
The Personal Touch
On a personal level, investing more time into a coin collection will also make collecting coins more fun. As with any hobby, the more that is invested into it, the better the end product in most cases. A secondary benefit is the greater the appeal of the collection to the collector.
The best example of this is to consider the value a collector puts in their collection versus the value that same collector puts in random coins in their pocket. The collection coins mean more than just their monetary value to that collector. The coins in their pocket are worth what their monetary value is and that is all.
Finally, the level of interest and active devotion a person dedicates to their collection and expanding/improving it shows instantly. A collector that sits on their collection and never adds to or improves it has a collection that is still interesting but stagnant. Eventually, stagnation becomes boring, no matter what coins are in the collection.
A collector that actively seeks out ways to improve their collection will create a product that is interesting and constantly evolving. It will hold the attention of the collector and increase their overall enjoyment of the collection.
History And Context Are Important
Every coin collection tells some sort of story. Coins associated with periods of history, for example, shed light on that era and the culture that created the coin. Coins associated with people or events tell a story, often one that altered the course of world history.
A JFK silver dollar, for example, commemorates a US President that was assassinated. The Buffalo nickel commemorates US westward expansion as well as bringing focus on Native Americans. A Susan B. Anthony dollar coin focuses the attention on her life and the suffrage movement.
More Than Just Collecting
Coins are interesting in and of themselves, but a major part of coin collecting is researching, investigating and discovering a coin’s history. Every coin is living history and has a story to tell. Knowing and understanding that history gives the collector a perspective on the collection or a specific coin or coins that perhaps no one else possesses.
In many cases, nondescript coins take on new significance and value because of an association with a famous event or person. Understanding that significance is key to fully appreciating the worth of a collection.
Looks Can Be Deceiving
While many coins look similar, not all coins are the same. In fact, some coins are only interesting and only stand out because of their peculiarities.
A coin from the Civil War is just that – an old coin – except for the significance of the Civil War in the shaping of America. A quarter from 1933-1964 (when quarters were silver clad) looks the same as a quarter from 1965 onward, but is much more valuable, because of the silver cladding.
Medieval era coins hold immense value, but only as historical relics. No one is paying much for a circular lump of metal. The value of the coin lies in its association with the time period.
The same holds true with coins from the era of the Roman Empire. On its own, a coin from the Roman Empire is just a shaped piece of metal. Add to that, however, the coin’s status as the currency of the greatest empire in world history and the significance is instantly enhanced.
This is not just true with individuals and how they view their collection. A coin with a colorful history can redefine the intrigue and value of the coin or coins in question for other collectors and coin buyers. No coin buyer is going to shell out much for the lump of metal mentioned above. They will, however, pay for a Roman Empire minted coin.
The Role Of Scarcity
Rare coins are worth more and are generally more interesting. That is partly why coins with errors that are distributed among the public are so valuable. There just are not that many of them. It holds true for coins that don’t have errors as well.
For example, the US Buffalo nickel has increased in value as it has aged and as fewer and fewer of them are in circulation. Back in the 50s and 60s, it was common to get a Buffalo nickel when a person purchased something. It was minted in 1938, so if used in 1955, it was not particularly special.
As time passed, however, fewer and fewer Buffalo nickels were in circulation. By the 70s, it was rare to see one in general circulation. By 2000, Buffalo Nickels were almost exclusively available via collectors or coin sellers. As fewer were in circulation, their value increased.
Most Buffalo Nickels are now worth between $1 and $3. A few specific editions have sold for thousands because of their rarity.
Understanding The Market
A final contributor to a coin’s value to the collector is its significance to society in general. JFK silver dollars, for example, were once treasured currency because of the reverence America has for the fallen president. Throughout history, certain coins, either in the present day or through historical perspective, have increased in value and importance.
Because of the importance people placed on John F. Kennedy, the market for the silver dollar, even among non-collectors, was vibrant. Even today, the Kennedy silver dollar evokes some sentimental attachment in people that lived when he was in the oval office. This is because they either remember Kennedy’s assassination, or grew up with family members who experienced it directly.
Exclusively Valuable To Collectors
Conversely, some coins, even with a rich historical association, are not popular with the public, but hold value to collectors. The aforementioned Susan B. Anthony dollar coin is a notable example. While the coin was a special issue and the history associated with it is very important to the USA, virtually no one wanted them.
Primarily, the reason they were largely rejected by the public is that they were bulky and heavy. No one wanted to walk around with a pocket of dollar coins. This was especially true given that there was a paper currency equivalent.
Susan B. Anthony’s coin, however, is a collectible that has a ready market that will not pay a lot for the coin but will still pay something above its currency value. This is because there were relatively few of them minted. The fact that this dollar coin is collectible and holds value is something that would only be discovered through knowledge of the coin’s history.
Each of these factors help the coin collector get to know and understand the coin or coin collection in question. Spending as much time as it takes to know the history of the coins is key to enhance the enjoyment factor for the collector. Collectors that do not know their collection’s history miss learning some fascinating things about their coins.
However, there are some other secrets that you can use to get the most out of your coin collection.
5 Coin Collecting Secrets
1. Choose Sellers Carefully
Part of the enjoyment of owning a coin collection is knowing that there is value in the individual coins and in the collection as a whole. Additionally, knowing that a seller did not take advantage of the situation increases the enjoyment of the collector. There is nothing worse than resenting a coin in a collection because the buyer feels like they got a raw deal.
To that end, choose sellers carefully, using these tips:
- Look at references
- Interact with them in person if possible
- Ask for and check references
- Research their business history and look for complaints
By establishing a seller is honest, the stress of worrying about being taken advantage of is eliminated, which enhances the enjoyment factor of buying, selling and collecting coins.
2. Appraise Your Coins Early
As soon you add a coin to your collection, you should have it appraised. The reason for this is that it gives a framework that lets the buyer understand the significance of the collection and its individual coins. This helps the collector avoid scams and being taken advantage of, which reduces stress when making transactions.
It also helps with buying and selling. By knowing the general value of the collection and its coins, the collector can assess an offer from a position of confidence. They will know instantly if an offer is fair or not. They will not walk away wondering if they got the short end of the stick regarding what they paid for a coin or the amount for which they sold one.
3. Don’t Clean Circulated Coins
This seems counterintuitive because one goal of a collection is to present the collection in as professional a manner as possible. Used coins, however, show character and value. Most collectors and buyers will pay less for a cleaned coin collection because it loses value and general interest when its history is scrubbed off.
The best way to manage coins is to leave them be as much as possible. If you absolutely must clean a coin, cleaning as little as possible to get it to a presentable form is the goal.
This will not only hold the value for collectors, but it will also enhance the value to the collector because the coin has character.
4. Display Your Collection Professionally
It goes with out saying that coins thrown into a heap in a drawer do not hold the same enjoyment factor as those displayed prominently in a case for all to see. Part of collecting coins is showing them off and relating the history and significance of a coin or collection to interested parties.
Use professional-grade pouches or display sheets. Make sure any case the coins will be displayed in looks like it was professionally made. Regularly clean the holder and case and remove any dust and debris. If the display case has glass, make sure to clean that periodically as well.
Each coin should also be labeled. Coins of special interest or value should be separated from the main collection and the backstory of the coin should be easily accessible.
5. Get The Coins Professionally Graded
Everyone likes a good mystery. Coins, however, are an exception to this rule. The more that is known about a coin or a collection the greater the enjoyment for the collector. At the very least, knowing the value of a collection will eliminate any nagging questions of value in the mind of the collector.
A coin collection’s enjoyment factor is largely created by the collector. A good way to go about it is to treat the collection as a museum-quality display. We hope this article helps show why investing time in a collection is as important as investing money to build interest and enjoyment in and from the collection.