Three Levels of Coin Collecting
Casual coin collectors collect for the fun of it. The casual coin collector doesn’t spend much time, money or effort when buying and preserving coins. These collectors usually have interest only in coins with a special meaning to them– coins minted in their year of their birth or old coins found in pocket change.
Coin collectors often get hold of more interesting pieces as gifts from friends or family members. The gift of a rare coin has transformed many casual collectors into curious collectors.
When a collector goes beyond collecting from circulation finds and getting coin gifts, he or she enters a level of curiousity. The curious collector discovers an interest and might buy some coins, maybe go to a coin show or look around coin shops and look at coins offered on eBay.
This coin collector studies coin publications and checks out websites, interacts with other collectors, and learns the skill of buying and selling coins.
Yes, trading and buying and selling coins is a skill.
Before spending money or making any decisions about buying expensive coins, a collector needs due diligence, having knowledge about and experience with the coins he’s buying . At that point of knowledge and experience, where a collector knows what he’s getting, how to get it and how much to pay, he becomes an advanced coin collector.
Many silver stackers fall into this category of coin collector. The person who “collects” silver and gold for the precious metal content usually also scans through bullion coin purchases to find better dates and higher grades– maybe to collect them separately from his stack, maybe to resell for a profit above the metal content of the coin.
Advanced coin collectors are Numismatists. They usually have a specialty that becomes an area of expertise. Collections are unique and coin collectors are unique. Some are dedicated generalists looking for examples of all kinds of coins. If they have enough financial resources, this can produce an outstanding collection, as the extensive coin collection of King Farouk of Egypt, who collected everything he could get his hands on.
Many advanced coin collectors like to accomplish full sets all examples within a particular set. Louis Eliasberg is famous amongst Numismatists as the only coin collector to assemble a complete set of every known coin of the United States Mint. Other coin collectors focus on coins of a certain nation or historic period. Some collect coins from various nations or settle on error coins or exonumia like tokens and medals.
At the highest levels of coin collecting, it becomes a competitive sport. Coin auctions can realize astronomical prices as enthusiastic collectors struggle for the very best examples of popular coins.
Numismatists who collect ancient and medieval coins are more interested in the historical significance of the collections. The coins of Byzantine, Roman, Indian, Greek, Celtic, and ancient Israelite origin are among the most popular ancient coins collected. Specialties tend to vary, but the common approach is collecting coins minted during a particular emperor’s time in power. A completist would, for example, strive for a representative coin from each emperor.
Coin collectors of a nation’s coins specialize in the coins of their own country. One common way to collect national coins includes collecting one of every date and mint mark for a particular series. Another popular collection is the U.S. type set– including one coin of each variety of each denomination produced.
Coin collectors create unique combinations of date, mint mark and type sets. Numismatists gain expertise through study of a specialty. The most important of the coin collecting hobby: HAVE FUN!