Collecting coins is a personal endeavor. The arrangement or grouping of coins, the subject matter, and the era in which minted make selecting what group(s) to collect much easier and even appealing. Some selections may take years to put together, while others can be accomplished in a short period of time. The coins which will have lasting value are those preserved and protected by being Certified and Graded – which also assures you of what Grade and thus what Value is purchased.
Hobbies: Coin Collecting
What Coins Should I Collect?
By Robert L Taylor, JD
You should collect what you like and enjoy. This is Your Dream. Design it any way you want.
Never-the-less, . . . decide on Foreign coins or US Coins; and Proof or Mint State. If US, then decide upon a Denomination: penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar, dollar or other.
Or, decide upon a particular Period in History, e.g.: Morgan Dollars (Lady Liberty, Following Civil War), Peace Dollars (Following WWI), War Time Cents (Steel and Shell Casing – WWII), War Time Nickels (Silver – WWII), Silver quarters and dimes – pre 1965; Statehood Quarters; 20th Century; 19th Century.
Or decide upon an Historical Figure; Kennedy Half Dollars (Following his death), Lincoln Cents; Washington Quarters; Franklin Half Dollars; Eisenhower Dollars, Susan B Anthony Dollars, Roosevelt Dimes; Sacagawea Dollars. You can also choose Type Sets, Year Sets, Mint Sets, Proof Sets and Decades.
The Next Step is to decide upon the Quality of Coin you want to collect. Your choices are: a) pocket change; b) bank rolls; c) US mint and proof rolls/sets (new and used); d) Buy from Coin Shows and Clubs; e) Buy on the Internet; f) Buy from dealer; g) Buy from a coin magazine or ad. Each has their benefits and advantages. Pocket Change and Bank Rolls provide circulated coins. The US Mint provides uncirculated “Mint State” and “Proof” coins, but only on a yearly basis. The Internet provides the Greatest Selection from private Web Sites (e.g.: www.ThePerfect-Coin.Com) to the big Auctions like eBay, Yahoo, Heritage and TeleTrade. And With the advent of PayPal (free) it becomes very easy to pay for purchases over the Internet and by Phone.
The one thing that is important in all of the above choices is the Grade of the Coin, which is closely related to Value (another article). But which leads to the next choice: Buy Slabbed or Raw? Raw coins are what you find in pocket change. Slabbed coins are those that are Professionally Certified and Graded by an Independent Third Party. The coin is then placed in a “slab”, made of plastic, identified, labeled and sealed. It actually takes 3 Professionals to decide upon the Grade of a Coin. If Buying Raw Coins, You need to Know How to Grade a Coin. Even then, there will be disputes about the Grade. If Buying a Slabbed coin, You Know the Grade. The Grade Becomes Virtually Undisputable! All references to Price in any resource are Based on Grading, which follows the Guidelines set by the ANA – American Numismatic Association. Currently, there are only Four Companies that are Recognized for Strictly following these Guidelines: PCGS, NGC, ICG and ANACS. It is from these Professionals that one should buy slabbed coins. Buying Slabbed Coins is the First Rule of Serious Coin Collecting.
Obviously, one will be very limited in the years, mints, and varieties available from pocket change and bank rolls – both being local in nature. Even if starting with these means of collecting, always keep an open mind the other resources. So, a little future insight helps to decide that better resources will yield better coin collections. Most collections will span a greater range than either pocket change or bank rolls will produce. It is therefore imperative to investigate other resources. Your budget will usually determine the Grade of coin that you can afford to collect. MS63-MS65 is an Ideal range for Collecting, because of the excellent condition and detail of the coins, but also the greater availability, lower costs, and because coins in this range tend to Appreciate faster than other Grades.
Lastly, decide whether to collect all of the coins in your Group – including varieties and errors – or just the regular issue coins. Errors and Varieties can become extremely expensive and difficult to find. Most people will avoid them.
There is one more item to decide, but it is very simple, and it has to do with the quality of the coin – or how much you want to Spend per Coin – for an average coin, for an exceptional coin, or a perfect coin. Your budget will usually determine this factor, or, how much per month you can spend for your new Investment. Think of it as a Fund. You are trading Money for . . . Money that Grows! Properly attended, this Fund can quite possibly put someone through college.
This Concept is critically important because most people shy away from spending a little more, just to get the best. And I am talking about the best in quality of coin, no matter what the Grade. In other words, get a Coin with the Grade it is Supposed to Have. This is the Only way to be sure of the Value of the Coin. Spend your Money Wisely. Get what you pay for. Until you become a Professional at Grading, rely on the Professional Graders. Whether you choose to collect Kennedy Proof Half Dollars, or Jefferson Nickels from pocket change, Or, thanks to the Internet and Private Web Sites, you will find a huge selection available to give your Coin Collection a boost.
But Always Know Your Grade!
Robert L Taylor, JD
Copyright 2006, Robert L Taylor, JD
About the Author
Robert Taylor is a retired Lawyer of 28 years, from Denver, CO, who spent most of his career representing people who could not afford an attorney, and who has had a passion for collecting US coins, since the age of 6. Wanting to share his Passion, he created http://www.ThePerfect-Coin.Com which features US Rare and Modern Coins (from 1960) and http://www.PerfectDollarCoins.Com featuring US Dollar Coins (from 1878), all Certified and Graded by NGC, PCGS, ICG and ANACS.