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A Beginner’s Guide to Coin Collecting

Coin collecting is one of the oldest hobbies in the world — records suggest that people were doing it as far back as Ancient Rome. A couple of thousand years later, here we are, still obsessed with these bits of metal ranging from rare and exotic coins to those that are common or sentimental. Of course, much has changed from centuries past, and today, many avid collectors find their treasures online.

At Everything But The House, you can find unique and rare coins that once passed through the hands of coin enthusiasts who came before you. Whether shopping for your own pleasure or to put together something interesting for your kids and grandkids to inherit some day, you should first learn how to start a coin collection. Not only is coin collecting one of the oldest hobbies, but it can also be one of the most challenging for beginners.

Pick a Passion (and a Budget)

If you want to collect coins, you have quite an assortment to choose from. For most people, narrowing the choices down makes getting started a little less overwhelming. You may already have an idea as to what you want to collect. If not, do some research. Perhaps you want to stick to collecting American coins. Maybe you’re interested in a specific part of history and want to collect coins from that era. You can narrow it down by denomination — collecting only coins worth $0.10, for example — or by material, like coins only made of gold or copper. Some enthusiasts choose to collect coins with errors and misprints. The possibilities are limitless. Just be sure to keep your budget in mind. The rarer and more exotic the coin, the more it’s going to cost.

Start Small

If you still aren’t sure what type of coins you want to collect, start with the basics: coins you use every day. Use cash as much as possible while shopping and save all of your change. Once you have a few handfuls stashed away, take a look at them. You might just run across something unique that made its way into circulation. You might want to start by challenging yourself to collect each of the 50 state quarters. This can give you a little taste of what coin collecting is all about. If you love it, move up to the big leagues. If you don’t, you can always take your quarters and buy yourself a cup of coffee.

Gather Your Sources

Before you start shopping, do some reading and talk to some experts. Go online and check out websites dedicated to coin collecting. Talk to fellow enthusiasts about your interests and ask if they have any recommendations. For example, “The Official Red Book: A Guide Book of United States Coins” is the longest-running coin price guide and is considered one of the most authoritative coin price sources if you’re sticking to domestic collectibles. Once you’ve chosen some reliable sources, you can refer back to them again and again.

Know Your Coin Grades

If you think you left grades behind in high school, think again. Learning about coin grading helps you understand just how valuable each find is. The Sheldon Scale is a universal system that has 70 points, ranging from P-1 (poor) to MS-70 (perfect mint state). Preservation of the metal, how well a coin is struck, and wear and tear are all taken into consideration when grading coins. While professionals can do the grading for you, knowing how to do it yourself saves you time and money. Who knows? You may even score a major treasure with your newfound knowledge.

Train Your Eye

While you’re learning how to buy coins online, take some time to really look at what you want to buy. Coins for sale through any venue may be mislabeled. When you’re just starting out, practice training your eyes to find those diamonds in the rough by making small purchases of inexpensive items to examine more closely at home. Once you’re satisfied with a few purchases, you can take your collecting to the next level. However, at the end of the day, choose coins that look good to you and fit with your collection.

Learn Coin Collecting Lingo

If you don’t know your adjustment marks from your attributes or your silver plugs from your silver nickels, take some time to learn. Just reading about the topic online and in books can improve your coin vocabulary. Be sure you understand the parts of a coin, too, from the fields to the rim and everywhere in between. Whether you seek expert help, interact with other coin enthusiasts, or shop online or in person, you’ll find that using lingo when collecting is like speaking another language. You wouldn’t head to France without learning a little French would you?

Select Your Storage

Now you’re ready to start a coin collection. That’s great! But where are you going to keep your budding collection? Storage is an important part of your new hobby. If you wish to keep your collection on display, boxes with clear glass windows or albums are excellent choices. Tubes and binders are better options if you want to keep your collection stored away. Coin collection holders come in nearly as many varieties as the coins themselves do. Having a powerful lamp and strong magnifying glass are two more tricks of the trade that you shouldn’t go without. Many collectors keep a pair of soft cotton gloves on hand to keep the oils on their skin from damaging delicate coins.

If you’re ready to hear the satisfying jingle of coins in your stash of collectibles, check out the listings for coins and currency on EBTH. This innovative estate auction site has the potential to connect you with coins from around the globe as you begin your treasure-hunting adventure.

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