Because coin collecting is a lifelong hobby, collectors are always learning and improving their skills and abilities…
… In this article, I’ve assembled 30 of my best tips for coin collecting divided by levels of experience.
From beginners to seasoned collectors up to dealers, I really hope you will learn a thing or two from this well done list!
Coin collecting tips for beginners
1. Join a coin collecting club
The community can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the hobby, plus you’ll learn a lot from seasoned collectors!
Other collectors will be a great resource in finding good dealers and answering all kinds of beginner questions. Have fun meeting some with fellow local collectors.
2. Collect what you enjoy
Make sure you’re collecting coins for the right reasons!
Sure, this activity could make you some money, but you also want it to be enjoyable, Right?
Most importantly, build your collection around what you are interested in. You’ll quickly lose interest if you’re just putting together a hodge podge of coins that may become more valuable.
3. Set a collecting budget
Setting your budget is perhaps one of the most challenging but important aspects of the hobby!
Make sure you set an annual budget for your hobby at the start of each year, and stick to it! You don’t want to end up needing to sell off your collection or in financial trouble due to going overboard.
4. Purchase from reputable dealers
Other positive signs include longevity and recommendations from seasoned collectors. A good dealer shouldn’t pressure you and should be willing to answer any questions and take their time showing you coins.
5. Carry a magnifier
To properly inspect a coin’s quality, you’ll need more than the naked eye!
Invest in a small magnifier (Check this one Here on Amazon) or loupe to carry with you to coin dealers, shops, and shows.
Between 5x and 10x magnification is typically sufficient. This important tool will help you with on-site grading verification and checking for coin warning signs.
You may want to check these Coin Magnifiers list! You will get a ton of ideas …
6. Know coin warning signs
Educate yourself on the common signs that coins have been cleaned, dipped, or tampered with.
Use your handy magnifier to look for small scratch marks, which would indicate cleaning. Look for a bluish or brownish tint or spots on the coin’s surface, which could indicate it has been toned with chemicals to look artificially aged.
7. Don’t clean coins
Just don’t do it! You could make a valuable coin practically worthless.
Tempting as it may be to make a beautiful coin look new and shiny again, you will be removing its character and likely damaging it.
Attempting to clean a rare coin is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a coin collector.
8. Handle coins properly
Coins should be handled wearing cotton gloves (Check this on Here on Amazon) and by the edges—never the coin’s face.
Watch how dealers and advanced collectors handle their valuable coins and take a lesson from their book.
Consider investing in a padded tray, and make sure you’re protecting your most valuable coins in proper archival-quality capsules or cases.
Check this gloves list for more ideas!
9. Join the American Numismatic Association
The American Numismatic Association, or ANA, is a nonprofit organization for coin collectors with over 25,000 members.
It is the largest organization of its type in the world!
Members receive benefits including a newsletter, access to grading services, and discounts on top-notch educational resources.
10. Catalog your collection
Carry with you a small notebook or catalog (Check this one Here on Amazon) listing the coins in your collection!
Indeed, as your collection grows, you may not be able to remember every coin in your collection while out at a show or dealer. You don’t want to risk buying a duplicate, because you forgot that coin you scored as part of a set last year.
Coin collecting tips for seasoned collectors
11. Attend an American Numismatic Association conference
The ANA has held annual conventions for over 100 years!
They are a great opportunity to network with other coin enthusiasts, see exhibits, and invest in your continuing education.
Each year, there is typically a convention focused on US coins one on world coins. There is also a Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs offering a variety of classes taught by expert numismatists.
12. Insure your collection
In addition to proper storage and handling techniques, as your collection grows it is important to make sure it is protected against theft or other damage.
Check with your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure your collection is covered or to add it.
Consider a safe deposit box for extra security of valuable coins. Beware of storage units.
13. Have goals for your collection
As a beginner you may dabble in a few areas of collecting, but as you advance in the hobby it can be helpful to have specific goals for your collection.
What area are you specializing in? What key purchases do you want to make this year? Having a plan will help you make informed decisions rather than amassing a large quantity of coins that don’t give you a thrill.
14. Learn from trusted dealers
Spend time around dealers you trust and try to learn from them as much as possible!
Let them show you how they grade coins, flaws or warning signs to look out for, and more. As you build relationships, you’ll find dealers who are willing to spend time educating. These experienced individuals can help you advance your coin collecting knowledge.
15. Be patient with coin purchases
It can be tempting to jump on every good deal you see, but question every purchase to make sure it aligns with your goals.
If you’re saving up for a rare coin you’ve had your eye on, you may need to wait a while before an acceptable specimen becomes available. That’s to be expected, so don’t get antsy and make a rash purchase you may regret later.
16. Nurture your passion for collecting
Do some self check-ins to make sure you’re still collecting for the right reasons. Are you getting enjoyment from the hobby or are you focusing too much on making a buck? If your passion has plateaued, do you need to expand into another area like world coins or coin dealing? There are many directions you can go with coin collecting—just make sure you’re feeding your passion!
17. Understand that value is relative
There are so many factor’s that go into a coin’s value, rarity being only one!
Supply and demand for coins can shift over time, so while coin collecting can be a profitable hobby, there is no guarantee.
Make smart purchases but also collect coins you are passionate about. Continue to educate yourself so you can spot trends that may pay off over time.
Learn more about discovering the coins value easily!
18. Try a coin auction
Once you’re feeling more confident in your coin buying, the thrill of a coin auction can be quite enjoyable.
Do your homework ahead of time and go in with a set budget and goals, and you could come out with a great deal. It can be helpful to brush up on auction rules and etiquette first.
19. Focus on quality over quantity
It can be tempting to want to build a sizable collection, but saving up for special coins can be a wiser approach.
Your collection will shine when you have a few rare and dazzling specimens in the mix.
More volume means more storage space and less time to enjoy each piece.
You may want to consolidate over time and trade up to those big finds.
20. Help a beginner
Remember the kind collectors who helped show you the ropes when you were just getting started?
Give back and help spread the joy of the hobby by helping a newer collector to learn some key information and skills that will help them.
If you know a beginner, share with him/her this complete step by step guide for coin collecting! They will learn a LOT!
Coin collecting tips for coin dealers
You can’t be an expert in everything. To make a name for yourself as a dealer, specialize in one area that customers will flock to you for!
This doesn’t mean you can’t be knowledgeable in other areas, just that you will be known for this one particular specialty.
It’s likely to be an area you are passionate about and therefore study intently.
22. Earn the trust of your customers
Customers need to know that you’re a dealer they can trust if you want them to keep coming back and refer their friends.
Spend time with your customers showing them features of coins and explaining what affects value.
Have fair buy-back policies. Running a business can have its challenges, but try to make sure your customers leave happy knowing they got a fair deal.
23. Know your coins’ histories
A coin’s history can add value and make a sale!
For example, sharing that an 1864 two-cent coin was the first coin to have the motto “In God We Trust” imprinted could make it special to a buyer.
There are endless examples where a bit of history adds incredible interest to a coin. Being a certain grade is one thing, but history can make a coin come to life for a collector.
24. Network with other dealers and collectors
More than other businesses, coin collecting customers often find coin dealers through word of mouth.
A key to maintaining a strong coin dealing business is fostering connections with the hobbyists and fellow dealers that will send their friends your way.
25. Study fakes
Selling a fake coin can ruin your reputation in an instant!
Spend time studying fake or tampered coins so you know exactly what to look for. This is an area where you can’t be too careful, so it’s wise to invest the time educating yourself to an expert level.
26. Keep good records
The difference between an advanced collector who buys and sells and a coin dealer who runs a business often comes down to records.
You need to keep track of your expenses, revenue, and profits!
You also need to know exactly what coins you have on hand and where they came from. Invest in some record-keeping software and take time setting up good record-keeping practices to help your business thrive.
27. Learn from an expert grader
Do you have an expert third-party grader you trust? Observe them carefully, ask them questions, and absorb every bit of knowledge they have.
This will help you with grading on your own and showing your customers you are fair and knowledgeable.
28. Invest in good coin photography
So much coin dealing is done online today!
Hire an experienced coin photographer or invest in proper equipment and photography courses for yourself so you can create listings that sell.
Quality photography goes a long way in making your merchandise look good and helping customers feel secure in their purchase.
These Coin Cameras are really very good to take high quality pictures for your beloved coins!
29. Join the Professional Numismatists Guild
In addition to the ANA, the Professional Numismatists Guild is another organization that can help you build your reputation as a dealer.
It only accepts members who have been in the industry five or more years. Joining is an investment that shows you’re in this business for the long haul.
30. Know the current price for silver and gold
Some coins may not be valuable on the surface due to their quality or lack of rarity, but their metal content could be valuable.
A good dealer will always know the current scrap price for silver and gold so they can spot an undervalued coin and make money from its metal content.
The great thing about this hobby is there is always room for improvement!
By continuing to expand your knowledge and find areas you are passionate about, you can reach an expert level and have a collection you’re proud of.
Whether you’re an experienced dealer or just getting started, I hope you learned a few new things that can help you.
Finally, I highly invite you to have a look at my favorite coin microscopes out there! There are some solid choices there!