rare coins

How to Collect Rare Coins? [Guide with Actionable Steps!]

how to collect rare coins

As a coin collector you are on a freaking mission! It consists simply on obtaining, protecting, and often proudly displaying your beloved set of rare coins…

… So, How to Collect Rare Coins? The first Step is to have the ability to identify such coins and determine how rare they are, then you will need to set a decent budget to acquire them to your collection. This won’t happen, unless you get to know the right dealers, auctions and shops where you can safely find these coins.

This was the short answer …

… Indeed, in this Post, you will learn more about what makes a coin rare (including many examples), how to find them and get them properly certified … In addition to some tips on storing or selling them in a decent manner!

First … How much are rare coins worth?

There is a number of factors that could directly affect the price or value of coins. These include:

  • Age
  • Condition
  • Rarity
  • Metal content
  • Demand

Older coins will be worth more, because there are fewer surviving specimens in good condition and for their historical appeal. This is true for the rarest coin in the world, described further below.

Rarity can also be due to a limited number of coins produced or from an unusual coin error that occurred only a small number of times.

The 1913 Liberty Head nickel was never supposed to be produced in that design or released to the public, but five specimens have surfaced, one being sold for $3.7 million.

Higher precious metal content, such as gold, silver, or platinum, equates to a higher coin value. The 1784 Brasher Doubloon, in addition to being rare, is made of 22-carat gold.

One sold at auction for $7.4 million. The 2007 Canadian $1 million coin is made of nearly pure gold (99.99%)!

Finally, coins are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them so demand plays an important role in determining value. This often goes hand in hand with rarity, because the fewer the specimens in existence, often times the higher demand from coin enthusiasts.

You can also learn about coins value!

How do you identify rare coins?

Get yourself on the path to identifying rare coins with a few readily available tools:

  • Magnifier (Check this on Here on Amazon) in the form of a magnifying glass, loupe, or small coin microscope
  • Reference books for US or world coins (Check these Coin Collecting Books); may also be divided by time period
  • Bright lighting, preferably from a ~75 watt incandescent bulb
  • Cotton gloves (Check this Example Here on Amazon) for handling
  • Coin storage supplies as needed (see more details below)

Start by identifying all marks and features on the coin, including:

  • Denomination
  • Date
  • Inscription
  • Images
  • Country and place of origin, which may be indicated by an abbreviation or “mint mark”

Also note the coin’s shape, size (diameter and thickness), weight, and type of metal. You can help determine the type of metal by observing the coin’s color and using a magnet.

While you can do internet searches to identify a coin, a good reference book can help you be more successful and offer reliable information on grading and value.

Identifying a rare coin can be a great thrill! If you’re still struggling after using the tools and identifying features listed here, try consulting an online or in-person group of coin collectors for input.

You could also take the coin to a reputable shop or dealer.

You can learn more about coin collecting tools!

What is the rarest coin in the world?

There are only three known 1343 Edward III Florin gold coins in existence today. A British coin from over 600 years ago, it is currently valued at $6.8 million.

The 1343 Edward III Florin was only in circulation for a few months before the coins were melted and used to create a more popular currency, the gold noble.

The coin is also known as a “double leopard” for the leopards seated on each side of the king depicted on the coin’s face.

Two of the coins were found in the River Tyne in the 19th century, which now reside in a British museum, and the third was found by a metal detecting hobbyist in 2006.

You can learn about world coins!

How do you clean and store rare coins (the right way)?

The last thing you want to do is damage your rare coin when trying to clean it. The best advice when it comes to rare coins is to not attempt to clean them. That’s right: just don’t do it!

Cleaning rare coins can harm them and significantly reduce their value. It is best left to qualified professionals if done at all.

If you absolutely must clean a coin yourself, gentle is the name of the game!

Indeed, soak in very mild soap and distilled water—never tap water. For very dirty coins, you could also try soaking in olive oil.

Never use abrasive materials or scrubbing on such coins. You’ll hurt the metal and leave a visible trace of your attempts. Goodbye value!

To ensure you keep your coins in top condition, follow some basic guidelines for coin handling and storage. Think twice before handling rare valuable coins at all. You can have these encapsulated by a professional, which means they will be sealed inside a protective case.

If you do handle your rare coins, use cotton gloves and a padded tray. Depending on your coin collection’s worth, you have several options for storage:

Whatever you do, remember cleaning will not increase your coin’s value and might do quite the opposite.

Is it possible to find rare coins in circulation?

Yes, it is possible to find rare coins in circulation! The rarer the coin, the smaller the chances you’ll find one in circulation, but there are some potential goodies out there.

In fact, there are whole books on how to discover value among your pocket change.

Examples of rare coins in circulation include mint misfires, such as:

  • Double died penny (essentially double stamping, causing letters to look blurred)
  • “In God We Rust” Kansas 2005 state quarter
  • 2004 Wisconsin state quarter with extra leaf
  • Presidential dollar coin from 2007 onward with either missing or errors in edge lettering

What should you know about rare coin errors?

To find rare coin errors, look carefully at coins and compare versus a known sample in a reference book. Errors to look for include:

  • Missing or out of place lettering
  • Strike errors: Double dying, cracks, missing elements, or cuds (blobs covering). Look closely around the image’s chin, eyes, and ears.
  • Rotation errors (image is rotated or upside down)

If it takes more than 10x magnification to notice an error, it is likely not as valuable.

Your pocket change probably won’t make you a millionaire, but it can be fun to inspect coins and see what discoveries you can make!

How do you get rare coins certified?

There are two groups who can reputably grade and certify your rare coin, the Numismatic Guaranty Corp. (NGC) and the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).

If you are not a member of either of these groups, you’ll have to pay a coin dealer to submit your coin for grading and certification on your behalf. There will also be a charge for insurance and shipping of the coin.

Because of this, the coin needs to be worth at least $50 to recoup the cost to get it certified. However, once it’s certified, buyers can feel confident in their purchase without even laying eyes on the coin.

Where can you find and sell rare coins?

Protect your investment by making sure to buy and sell rare coins from reputable establishments. Understand that selling coins for top dollar will also take time, sometimes even a few months.

The most common places for acquiring and selling rare coins are:

1. Coin shops

When selling here, you can expect to receive 20-40% below the coin’s value as a fair price, because the shop owner needs to make money by reselling. Despite the lower sale price, coin shops can be an easy way to get rid of a collection fast, such as if you inherited one.

To ensure you find a reputable shop, ask for recommendations from your local coin club or online forum, check the Better Business Bureau ratings, and look for a shop that is recognized by the American Numismatic Association or Professional Numismatists Guild.

2. Auctions

While auctions can be exciting, they can also pressure buyers into quick decisions! If buying at auction, make sure to go in with a budget in mind and purchase certified coins.

When selling at auction, understand the auction company will levee a usually 20-25% fee off the price of the sale.

3. Coin dealers

They are generally independent and can pay higher prices for your coins because they don’t have the overhead of a brick and mortar shop. You may encounter them online or at coin shows.

Follow the same rules of smart buying and selling as mentioned above for coin shops to ensure you are working with a reputable dealer.


Whether you’re in it to make money or just along for the thrill, collecting rare coins is definitely an enjoyable aspect of the hobby! Probably that’s the most exciting part …

… With basic knowledge of how to find, care for, and sell rare coins, you’ll be equipped to build and protect your growing coin collection.

So, Go forth and enjoy!

Finally, I highly invite you to have a look at this beginner guide for the hobby! You will learn a lot!

About the Author

Carissa Harmer

Carissa is the huge metal detecting enthusiast that loves collecting coins. She is also highly interested in other treasure hunting activities like magnet fishing and gold prospecting/panning.