Written by: Katelyn Porter
Coin collecting can be a lot of fun and profitable, if you do it right. Getting started is easy too. You can start collecting coins simply by sorting through your pocket change. Or you can build a collection of coins or bullion by buying them directly from dealers.
1. Find a coin dealer
When you start collecting coins, it's important to find an honest coin dealer you can trust. This person can provide you with valuable advice. Rather than searching in the yellow pages, ask around for a personal referral. There are many shady dealers and pawnbrokers out there. A good coin dealer will follow industry standard code of ethics. A good coin dealer can also appraise your collection when you're ready to sell your coins providing you with an accurate price.
2. Learn about grading
Grading is a skill mastered by coin dealers. Simply put, it's a system of determining the state of preservation and wear of a given coin. For most circulated coins, the primary focus of grading is on how much wear the coin has seen and what damage it has suffered. Damage includes things like dings, dents and scrapes. Grading consists of a 70-point scale, with an abbreviation for an adjective appended for clarity. For example VF means "Very Fine," EF means "Extremely Fine" and MS refers to "Mint State." More important, uncirculated coins are always referred to as Mint State on the grading scale.
3. Protect your collection
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to protect your coin collection is by using cardboard folders. These folders have circular holes cut into them that fit the coin exactly and hold it firmly in place. Underneath the hole is generally a date or description of that particular coin. This will help to keep you organized as you begin to assemble a complete set of coins. You can also purchase plastic covers to protect coins. However, over time the plastic can adhere to the surface of the coin and actually damage it.
4. Coin collecting supplies
As an aspiring coin collector, there are certain supplies that you will need in order to begin your collection process. For starters, you need a magnifier to help see your coins better. Search for a magnifier with a magnification power between 2X and 3X. It's also important to have some reading material. Every coin collector should have two books: A Guidebook of United States Coins also known as the Red Book and The Official American Numismatic Association Grading Standards of United States Coins. The Red Book provides standard pricing of all U.S. coins as well as a description. The second book has a detailed description of every U.S. coin and how grade is determined.
5. Start collecting
Go to a bank or local convenience store and ask for a roll of circulated coins. Whether it is Jefferson nickels or Lincoln pennies, you can start sorting through the coins according to dates. Make different piles according to decades. After you have created different piles, start with the earliest the dates and pick the best looking from each year for your collection. The best-looking coin is not always the newest. Rather it will have the least amount of wear, damage or scratches.
Katelyn Porter is a freelance writer and avid coin collector. When she's not writing, she's working on building her collection. She has learned a lot through her favorite resource, Great American Coin Company and hopes others can learn from them as well.