Coin Collecting Basics

What coins are worth collecting? 

All Coins are worth collecting! However, follow your interests, you should collect coins that appeal to you. For example; if your grandparents were originally from Ireland, coins from Ireland may be of interest to you, as these coins would help tell a story. Always seek coins that are in the best condition you can find, those are the ones to choose from. Damaged or very worn coins are less desirable unless they are rarities. Rare coins with low mintage are a good choice as supply and demand make them, in general, more valuable. Below are some of my favorite examples.


1903 Indian Head Penny - These coins are well over 100 years old and not an easy find. The 1903 edition is one of the last Indian Heads produced and come in various conditions. 

Ireland Official 1st Euro Coin set 2002 -This is a cool, uncirculated, set of Euro coins from each of the twelve member countries.


How do you judge a coins condition?

Officially judging the condition of a coin is known as giving the coin a grade. This is something that is typically performed by a professional company, but these are the terms used.

Uncirculated: An Uncirculated coin is one that saw almost no time at all exchanging hands and is in pristine condition. These coins will have retained all over their original texture and imagery, and are very desirable. 

Extremely Fine: In Extremely Fine condition means the coin is in overall great shape. Some of the coin’s faces will show some signs of wear, will be in good condition. 

Fine: Fine means that the coin saw a decent amount of time in circulation. Due to changing of hands over the years, these coins will play host to plenty of scratching and other signs of wear. Some of the imagery may be a bit difficult to make out, but for the most part these coins are in OK shape.

Good: Good coins are in the roughest shape of them all. These coins saw many, many years in circulation and show it. They will play host to plenty of scratching, chipping, and other signs of wear. In some cases, these coins will even be bent due to being roughed up over the years.


What is coin collecting called?

Coin collecting is a part of Numismatics; the definition is the study or collection of coins, paper currency, and medals. Each side of the coin also has a name; obverse means the front face of the object (or heads) and reverse means the back face (tails).

What years of coins are valuable?

A general concept is that older coins are more valuable as there are fewer in existence. In the USA Coins of any given year may have been minted at various mints. Some produced far less than other mints, so year and the mint the coin was struck, is a contributing factor when valuing a coin. An example is the 1914 penny, the plain with no mint mark struck by the Philadelphia mint produced 75,238,432 pennies average value in Very Fine FV condition is about $7.00 whereas the 1914 D struck at the Denver mint only minted 1,193,000 coins which makes that coin in VF valued at $450. In conclusion, value is ascertained with many factors including year minted, the mint that struck the coin, condition, and popularity among collectors. Here are a few great examples.

Canada NewFoundland 1880 20 Cent F/VF - this one is from 1880!

Poland 1923 10 Groszy AU - and this one from 1923.


What is it called when a coin is made wrong?

If a coin is made wrong it is called misstrike or an Error, some examples would be a clipped planchet, multiple strike, blank, defective die, off-center, broadstrike, lamination, brockage, wrong planchet.


How can you tell if a coin is rare?

Rarity is not only limited to the total amount issued, but a coin may be common in a poor or average condition and rare in a high-grade pristine condition. To find out if your coin is rare, look at current publications that value coins. The higher the price the rarer and more sought after that coin will be in the condition listed. Here are some examples of rare coins.

How to start collecting coins

A great inexpensive way to start collecting coins is to check your change when you receive change back from your purchases at a store. Next, get some protective sleeves at your local hobby shop or online. You should never clean coins with solvents or cleaners, this detracts from the value. Purchasing coin collecting books can aid in organizing your collection and makes it appealing to look at. Most people will collect one of each coin by year and mint. Filling your collection with missing coins can be fulfilled by purchasing the rarer elusive coins online or at a local coin dealer.


Is Collecting Coins a Hobby

Coin Collecting seems like such a natural thing to do. As a youngster, I had access to coins more so than to other currency forms. The stories about rarities, the designs, and the designs, were all part of the intrigue. Additionally, having something that was valuable and would, in our opinion, gain value certainly helped fuel our enthusiasm. Pennies were the easiest to collect, and they were the most plentiful and easy to get a hold of for us kids. My collector friends and I used to go to the local bank and buy rolls of pennies, then sort through them to find the missing coins in our collections. Naturally, after pennies, we moved through nickels, then dimes, then quarters, boasting nearly complete collections of each. To fill the empty spots, we would go to the local coin store and buy the more elusive coins, such as the 1909S VDB or the 1914D.  Soon as we gained more knowledge and found out about type coins, ancient coins, having such coins added status to our collections and to own at least one of each became a goal. I found that the tangible evidence of the past truly intrigued me; a story was attached to each coin. An event that clearly illustrates my feelings about why I collect and enjoy coins begins at a friend’s home. My friend had taken his kids to see the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean,” after coming back from the theater, the kids ages 6 & 8 were playing and reenacting scenes by sword fighting and letting their imaginations run wild. I happened to be there and perchance had with me a 1634,  4 Reales  cob coin. I then asked them if they wanted to see a real pirate coin, in unison they said “yes Can we see it?”, I showed it to them, the boy said “can I hold it?” I said “Yes be careful and don’t lose it” as soon as they had it in their hands they ran to their mom yelling emphatically “Mom Look a real pirate coin.” The reality of having something such as that 4 Reales coin brought that segment of history alive for those kids. As for me, I realized that there is something satisfying about holding a piece of history in your hands. As of late, I am interested in the early Canadian coins and bank tokens, which helped forge Canada’s country. The coins and bank tokens are relatively rare and I believe are undervalued for the amount minted.