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Coin Collecting

Coin collecting is the hobby of collecting coins. Coin collecting is to be distinguished from numismatics, the scientific study of money and its history in all its varied forms. Numismatics includes the study of coins, banknotes, stock certificates, medals, medallions, and token coins.

History

While hoarding coins due to their value goes back to the beginning of coinage, collecting them as art pieces was a later development. Known as the "Hobby of Kings", modern coin collecting is generally believed to have begun in the fourteenth century with Petrarch. Notes of Roman emperors having coin collections are also known, but it remains somewhat unclear whether these coins were studied, considered curiosities or were merely hoarded.

Coin Collecting Specialties

There are almost as many different ways of collecting coins as there are collectors. Many collectors specialize in some area of collecting, at least for a time.

Casual collector

The most common type of coin collector is the casual collector. Casual collectors can be both kids and adults. They just collect random coins, because they like it, and because it's fun. The only difference is they don't spend nearly as much money on buying and preserving coins. When the casual collector comes across something out of the ordinary, such as a denomination that doesn't circulate often, or an obsolete type, perhaps error coins or a modified coin such as a two headed magician's piece he will toss it in a drawer. Casual collectors can get more involved when the chance of finding something interesting in circulation increases. For example, the recent statehood quarters circulating commemoratives in the United States has increased the number of casual collectors. Casual collectors often obtain more interesting pieces as gifts. The gift of a rare coin has converted many casual collectors to curious collectors.

Curious collector

When a collector goes beyond circulation finds and gifts, and develops more of an interest in coins, he often graduates to being a curious collector. The curious collector will buy some coins (usually inexpensive), browse coin shops, or look at coins on eBay or internet sites. He buys whatever seems interesting at the moment, without a really clear goal in mind. In this way, a survey of potentially interesting areas of coin collecting is made. As he interacts with more seasoned collectors, he is often encouraged to read books and study before making any serious decisions about buying expensive coins, or choosing an area of interest to settle into for a while. At some point, many curious collectors learn enough, and decide enough about their interest to become an advanced coin collector.

Advanced Coin Collectors

Each advanced coin collector is unique. Some become dedicated generalists, looking for a few examples of everything. If they have enough resources, this can result in an astounding collection, as that of King Farouk of Egypt, who collected everything (and not just coins either). Some are completists, wanting an example of everything within a certain set. For example, Louis Eliasberg was the only collector thus far to assemble a complete set of known coins of the United States. Most collectors determine that they must focus their limited financial resources on a more narrow interest. Some focus on coins of a certain nation or historic period, some collect coins from various nations, some settle on error coins or exonumia like tokens and medals.

At the very highest levels of coin collecting, it can become a highly competitive sport. Recently, this has exhibited itself in registry sets, where the most complete set of coins with the highest numerical grades assigned by grading services are published by the grading service. This can lead to astronomical prices as dedicated collectors strive for the very best examples of each date and mint mark combination.

National Coin Collecting

It is common for collectors of national coins to specialise in the coins of their own country. Popular ways to collect national coins include collecting one of every date and mint mark for a particular series (date/mint mark sets) a limited completist approach. Collecting a representative coin of each different series is termed collecting by type. For example, a date set in Britain may include one Queen Victoria large penny for each year, 1837–1901. In another example, a U.S. type set might include an example of each variety of each denomination produced. Many collectors of national coins create unique combinations of date, mint mark, and type sets.

Historical Coin Collecting

Collectors of ancient and medieval coins are often more interested in historical significance than other collectors. Coins of Roman, Byzantine, Greek, Indian, Celtic, Parthian, Merovingian, Ostrogothic and ancient Israelite origin are amongst the more popular ancient coins collected. Specialties tend to vary greatly, but one prevalent approach is the collection of coins minted during a particular emperor's reign. A completist might strive for a representative coin from each emperor.

World Coin Collecting

World coins is the term given to collections of relatively recent modern coins from nations around the world. Collectors of world coins are often interested in geography. They can "travel the world" vicariously through their collecting. A popular completist way to collect world coins is to acquire representative examples from every country or coin issuing authority. Some collect by subject, for example, collecting coins from around the world featuring animals. Because world coins are usually very inexpensive, (sometimes being sold by the pound) it may be a good starting point for children. Many children find foreign coins by looking under change-to-cash machines, where customers throw away assorted coins found in their penny jars. These coins can range from Canada, to South Africa, to Korea. It is pretty amazing what people find worthless, and throw away.

Error Coin Collecting

The collecting of error coins is a modern development, made possible through the automation of coin manufacturing processes during the 19th century. Collectors of ancient and medieval coins accept coin "errors" because manual coin manufacturing processes lend unique features to each coin struck. Collectors of modern coins find errors desirable because modern processes make the likelihood of their production very limited. Examples of coin errors include doubled dies, repunched mint marks, overdates, double strikes, off metal coins, displaced or off center coins, clipped coins, and mules (different denominations on two sides of one coin).

Coin Collecting For Children

The hobby of coin collecting requires very little skill whatsoever. All you need is an interest in coins, of course. There are many things to learn about holding the coins, and taking care of them. Many kids start by picking up a coin they have never seen before, and continue collecting. Of course, to get more serious about coin collecting, some spend money on books, coins, folders, and protective items. There are plenty of cheap collecting stores everywhere. There is no minimum or maximum to how much can be spent on coin collecting, and children of any age can start.

Coin Collecting Details

In coin collecting the condition of a coin is paramount to its value; a high-quality example is often worth many times as much as a poor example—although there are always exceptions to this general rule. Collectors have created systems to describe the overall condition of coins. One older system describes a coin as falling within a range from "poor" to "uncirculated". The newer Sheldon system, used primarily in America, has been adopted by the American Numismatic Association. It uses a 1–70 numbering scale, where 70 represents a perfect specimen and 1 represents a coin barely identifiable as to its type.

Several coin grading services will grade and encapsulate coins in a labeled, air-tight plastic holder. This process is commonly known as "slabbing". Two highly respected grading services are the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS). However, professional grading services are the subject of controversy because grading is subjective—a coin may receive a different grade by a different service, or even upon resubmission to the same service. Due to potentially large differences in value over slight differences in a coin's condition, some commercial coin dealers will repeatedly resubmit a coin to a grading service in the hopes of a higher grade. Buyers are encouraged to look into the quality and features of the various grading services before deciding to purchase a coin based solely on the grade given by a service. The grading services came into being (PCGS being first) in an effort to bring more safety to investors in rare coins. While they have reduced the number of counterfeits foisted upon unsuspecting investors, and have improved matters substantially, because of the differences in market grading (which determines the price) and technical grading, the goal of creating a site unseen market for coins remains somewhat elusive.

Damage of any sort, such as holes, edge dents, repairs, cleaning, re-engraving or gouges, can substantially reduce the value of a coin. Specimens are occasionally "whizzed"--cleaned or polished in an attempt to pass them off as being higher grades or as proof strikes. In general, the buyer is cautioned to be careful of any unknown seller's claims. Because of the substantially lower prices for cleaned or damaged coins, some specialize in their collection. There is a market for almost any rare or obsolete coin.

If purchasing for investment, it is suggested that the buyer first thoroughly research both the coins and their markets. As discussed in the numismatics entry, prices cycle and can drop, particular for coins that are not in great long-term collector demand. Condition, surviving population, and demand determine price. As a beginning collector, surviving population can be initially estimated from mintage figures. Specialists learn the exceptions due to melting and other circumstances with experience and study. Age, as such, is not a relevant factor. Claims made by advertisers using popular media outlets should be treated with great scepticism.

A great way to start collecting for investment is to buy the best quality you can. The easy way to do that is buy proof sets directly from the mint. This enables you to assured of the quality and know you got it for the best price. Sometimes sets get hot and prices rise quickly. Other times you have to just sit back and wait. With a proof set, given enough time the price will rise.

Coin Collecting Trivia

The first international convention for coin collectors was held in August 15–18, 1962, in Detroit, Michigan, sponsored by the American Numismatic Association and the Canadian Numismatic Association. Attendance was estimated at 40,000.

The most collected coin is probably the United States Lincoln cent. Minted in tremendous numbers from 1909 to the present, they are inexpensive and widely available with the exception of a few rare dates.

The scientific study of coins is known as "numismatics". A numismatist may be a coin collector or not. A coin collector may be a numismatist or not.

Coin Collecting Information Courtesy of Wikipedia