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Maybe you read our previous post and caught a glimpse into the coin collecting and find it intriguing. Did we convince you that coins might not be so boring after all? If you think coin collecting may be a potential endeavor for you to undertake, there are some tips to  start you on your way.

Start Small

As with any hobby, you will want to ease into coin collecting and learn the ropes before making a major purchase. Take time to learn about coin collecting, about coins, about their history, about how they are graded, and about their pricing before you begin.

Start Simple with Coin Collecting

It is a great idea to begin with purchases of coin sets that are easier to gather and assemble. For example, you might work to assemble a set of Lincoln pennies or Indian Head pennies. These are relatively easy to find for a moderate price.


There is a lot out there! It is too hard to begin a coin collection without some boundaries. You may decide that you want to specialize your collection. This idea ties in with starting small and starting simple. You want to limit your collection to an area that you are able to learn about and gain expertise in so that you can level the playing field between you and the dealers and sellers you may be working with. You may start collecting only coins from a certain country, a certain time period, a certain coin material or finish, thea certain denomination, a certain mint mark, a certain design theme, or a certain artist.

Error Coins: Mistakes are Part of Coin Collecting

Sometimes the mint makes mistakes. Most of these coins are pulled from circulation before they ever leave the mint. However, the few that make it through can often be considered collectable and fun to find. Modern machinery makes coins by stamping a blank disc called a planchet. Some examples of errors might be off-center strikes, multiple strikes, striking over another image altogether, clipped images, defective planchet, or defective dies.

Take Your Time

Don’t purchase the first coin that comes along. Take time to learn about the particular coins before purchasing them. Wait for the coin you desire at the price you are willing to pay.


There is an old adage that states “Buy the book before you buy the coin.” This refers to doing your homework. A great book for the beginner and all collectors is The Guide Book of United States Coins, also known as the Red Book. Take the time to read the introductory chapters of this book before you jump into the pricing information that it is also known for. There are many popular coin collecting magazines as well, such as: Coin World and Numismatic News. Coin related websites are also a great source of information but be careful of websites that are just trying to sell you overpriced coins. The more you learn about coins and numismatics, the better you are at making the best decisions in your collecting. Create a collection you enjoy and that holds value for years to come.


Connoisseurship as the ability to discern true quality in a specific field. In numismatics, the connoisseur determines which coins have the most aesthetic eye appeal. They know which coins stand apart from the “typical” piece. Connoisseurship is a natural ability – you either are able to naturally determine the “best” or you are not. If you are not a born connoisseur (and very few people are) find a dealer who has this ability to assist you with your purchases.


There are books, websites, magazines, shows, and dealers willing to give you information, but it is always best to take this generalized information with a “grain of salt.” It is invaluable to take time to build a relationship with a dealer, collector, or other reliable experts you trust. Here is where a connection with a connoisseur comes in! These people are indispensable in directing you in forming your collection. The more they get to know you, the better they tailor their advice to your specific needs.

Join a Club for Coin Collectors

Joining a club is a great way to get started in collecting and to network. Experts and beginners alike are in the clubs. The experts will be able to give you valuable guidance in starting your collection. The American Numismatic Association (ANA) is the largest organization dedicated to numismatic education in the country. There are many local clubs you can search for online. There are also specialty coin clubs that focus on a particular type of coins.

Coin Shows

Another great way to start is to attend coin shows. Visiting a show is your chance to form some relationships as you to talk to other collectors and learn from them. Hold, inspect, and compare coins as you learn about them. With this knowledge in hand, truly evaluate coins before purchasing them.  Many shows include classes or seminars to help you learn more. If there are not shows in your area, visit a coin dealer or shop.

Learn to Grade

A grade determines a coin’s value. Therefore, learning how to grade coins you consider purchasing is important. Don’t blindly trust someone else’s grade. View many coins and  compare them. Take a grading class. Specializing helps you grow your expertise on a specific type of coin and grading is easier for you.

Make a Plan for Coin Collecting

Once you decide on a direction for your collection, make a plan. How much do you want to collect? How and where will you store your finds? What is your budget? These are all things to consider. Make a list of the coins you want. Include the price you anticipate paying for it, and the grade you want. Check off coins on the list as you collect. A list makes it easy to snatch up finds at auctions.

Collect What You Like

Just because a certain type of coin has a high value, if you don’t appreciate the coin personally, it is not a good choice. Conversely, if you really love a coin or set of coins, don’t be afraid to add them to your collection, even if they don’t have a great value. Ideally, find coins that have both value and appeal to you. Perhaps you appreciate the beauty of a set of coins. Maybe you enjoy the type of metal or how they are made. Does the history intrigue you? Collect a series of coins all with a certain object on it such as a fish, a bird, or a building.That makes it fun and help you stay in budget.

Be Wary of the “Quick Buck” 

Some people and unscrupulous coin dealers try selling coins at bargain-basement prices. The old adage of “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” holds true in this situation. Stick with collecting what you like and purchase your coins from a trusted coin dealer.

Proper Handling

The last thing to do with any collection is to handle the pieces improperly and cause damage that reduces their value or joy. Therefore, study and learn about safe storage of coins. Although they are made of durable metal, the surface of coins are delicate. It is easy to scratch or damage a coin easily. Use gloves and handle coins only by their edges.


The main thing about cleaning is coins is NEVER CLEAN YOUR COINS! Cleaning a coin damages it. And, just so you know, a professional coin dealer notices and more than likely reduces a coin’s value.

Coin collecting can be an enjoyable hobby and one you pass down through generations. An auction is a great place to look and find great coins. Give us a call at 317-745-6404 or visit us at LAWSON & CO to find out when our next auction may be and if it includes coins. Just as much as buying coins for your collection, you may also want to sell some of the coins indoor collection! Auctions are full of surprises.

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