what coins to collect

How to Know Exactly What Coins You Should Collect? [GUIDE]

how to know what coins to collect

When getting into coin collecting, the first question beginners often have is, “how do I know what coins to collect?” …

… Indeed, with so many choices out there, it can certainly be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.

In this Post, I’ll review why your collection should have a focus and how to figure out the right direction to opt for.

Also, I will discuss how your collection’s direction might change over time as it grows.

Why should you choose a focus for your coin collection?

Any type of collecting hobby tends to need some barriers or it can start to get unwieldy. If you are just amassing more and more things without any structure to it, that is more like a big pile of stuff rather than a collection.

Choosing a direction or focus will have several benefits, including:

  • Allowing you to be more strategic with your purchases
  • Helping you become more knowledgeable in specific areas
  • Letting you feel like you are achieving milestones by completing sets, making key finds, etc.
  • Being more manageable in terms of organization
  • Potentially increasing the value of your collection

Don’t worry, having a focus for your collection doesn’t mean you can’t collect what interests you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. You should follow your passions with collecting—it’s just helpful to have a few guardrails in place.

The great thing about coin collecting is as your interests change over time, you can explore new areas. This may even mean selling some of your collection, which can open up new doors.

The direction you choose to start out with doesn’t lock you in for all time. That’s an evolving and lifelong hobby.

Let’s review some of the common directions collectors may choose to focus on:

1. U.S. coins

In the United States, U.S. coin collecting is by far the most popular type of collection. Within that genre, you can even choose to focus more specifically on a particular time period or type of coin.

U.S. coins hold their value well if maintained, so you can feel secure that there should be a good market for them down the road.

If you enjoy U.S. history, U.S. coins is a great choice. As you learn more about U.S. coins, you’ll become more familiar with the most-wanted coins and what makes them valuable.

There are plenty of ready-made folders, albums (Check it Here on Amazon), and references books for U.S. coins to get your collection started. You’ll also have an easy time finding coin dealers and fellow collectors who will share their knowledge.

2. Worldwide coins

If the boundaries of a single country feel too limiting for you, collecting foreign coins is certainly an option! This will allow you can explore the culture and history of other areas.

You’ll want to have an idea for a region, time period, or types of coins you’re going after, because the world coin market is so large. Do some research and see what interests you—Asian coins, British coins, silver coins, etc.—the options abound.

World coins offer a greater variety that appeals to many collectors. These coins can also be more budget friendly, depending on the type you are seeking.

There are world coin reference materials available, but you may have to do more in-depth research if collecting in a less common area. The greater challenge identifying world coins and uncovering their histories excites many collectors.

Make sure to find trusted foreign coin dealers and be wary of fake coins.

3. Ancient coins

For the history buffs out there, ancient coin collecting can be an opportunity to own physical evidence of ancient human civilizations. There aren’t many other ways to own ancient Greek, Roman, or other cultural artifacts.

Ancient coins are a window to human life hundreds or thousands of years ago. The artistry and hand-struck metalwork demonstrated in such coins can be quite appealing.

Despite what you may think, there is an opportunity to collect ancient coins at any budget level.

If travel or metal detecting interests you, world and/or ancient coins can be great related hobbies.

4. Other types of coins to collect

Though these three types listed above (U.S., world, and ancient) are the most common segments, you can also choose to forge your own unique path!

As I’ve mentioned, some collectors choose to focus on a specific time period, a specific type of coin such as silver coins, or even something more personalized such as coins with nature motifs.

Determining a focus for your collection is really about your interests and what you enjoy. This may take some time to figure out, so you can always start with one direction and change over time.

How making a plan can help with coin collecting

Once you have a focus in mind that will help with building a plan for your collection. Obviously this will go hand in hand with your budget.

That’s right, you’ll want to have a coin collecting budget. Think about the next year and even the next five to ten years. What key coin purchases do you hope to make? What areas are you hoping to build in your collection?

Your plan will help you complete areas of your collection without spending all of your money on spur-of-the-moment purchases (those coin shows can be so tempting).

You can still have a set budget for opportunistic finds if you’d like, but other than that, you should have at least a rough idea of what you plan to be buying for your collection. This will help you shop with intention and make smart decisions.

Chances are, with a plan devised around your collecting focus, you will amass a collection you can truly enjoy and be proud of years from now.

Strategies for growing your coin collection

As you seek to grow your beloved collection, I have three strategies for you that can make things go smoother:

1. Save up for big purchases

Experienced collectors will tell you it’s better to save up for key purchases of high-value coins rather than buy a bunch of smaller items for your collection. Ultimately, the decision is up to you, but I wanted to share this sage piece of advice.

You’ll always want to purchase the best quality you can afford of a particular coin in your collection. You can see where budgeting and planning really come in.

Learn the key dates and rare finds in your collecting area of interest. These coins are a thrill to add to your collection and may even increase in value over time.

2. Try collecting series

Series are an easy way to build areas of your collection. You’ll follow a guide (from a book or folder – Check these Good Folders) and check off the list as you acquire each coin in the series. It will feel so fulfilling!

When working on a series, try to keep the coins all around the same grade for consistency.

Many beginners find coin series a straightforward and enjoyable way to start out in the hobby.

3. Stay organized

Organization is a big part of what makes a coin collection rather than a case full of old coins. Having an organization system for your coins will help you admire and enjoy them more.

An organized collection will also keep you from making duplicate purchases. You’ll be able to easily see the gaps…

… Keeping a spreadsheet or paper log of your collection as it grows is also wise.

For more information, I highly invite you to check these tips on organizing your coins.

Tips for purchasing rare and valuable coins

At some point, you will likely want to purchase a rare or valuable coin. By then, you will have saved up, done your research, and decided it’s time.

Please make sure you purchase these coins from a trusted dealer. Check the dealer’s ratings, including on the Better Business Bureau.

Do they have a buyback guarantee? Check whether they are recognized by the American Numismatic Association or Professional Numismatists Guild.

Rare or valuable coins should be encapsulated and certified by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS) or Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC).

Protect your investment upfront by making smart coin purchasing decisions. Know the coin of interest’s value, understand its characteristics, and inspect it yourself.

You can learn more about collecting these worthwhile coins!

Final Thoughts

The most important part of coin collecting is to have fun. OK, the most important part is probably to stick to your budget, because we all need to eat more than we need cool coins. But aside from that, try and focus on enjoying yourself.

I hope I’ve shared how having a focus and direction for your coin collection can help make the hobby more meaningful.

If you find an area that strikes your interest, feel free to dive in and learn all about it. That excitement is exactly what fuels each new collector.

Finally, you can have a look at these numismatics applications! There are some cool apps will help you to know the right coins that you should add to your collecting.

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.