Basic guide on How to Start a collection of ancient coins
This time I want to review some guidelines and recommendations that will help you decide if coin collecting is for you, or not. If you think it is, then we will discuss how to start a antique coin collection in the right way.
The idea, is that we review what are the motivations that move many coin collectors to seek and collect these pieces, often paying millions of dollars for some of them.
We will also review the types of coin collections there are, and where you could buy your first pieces once you decide to get started in the fantastic world of numismatics.
Without further ado, let’s get into the subject.
Reasons to start collecting ancient coins
Every person may have a specific, individual reason for getting started as a coin collector. Ultimately, we all make our decisions based on our own experiences and knowledge.
However, most of the possible reasons for getting into collecting can be grouped under three main headings:
Collecting coins is an excellent hobby
Many people collect coins simply as a hobby, and for them it is simply a pastime that allows them to occupy their time with a fun activity.
Collectors with this profile tend to prefer quantity over quality.
That is, the fun is in collecting many different pieces, with no other aspects such as state of preservation, rarity of the coin, demand for the pieces they hold, etc.
Collecting coins for educational purposes
Other people start in the world of collecting ancient coins motivated by their study. It is well known that money in its various forms, coins or banknotes, is an excellent vehicle for studying the past.
Then, within this group we find the people who tend to look for those rare coins, sometimes unique. Pieces that can be studied to exhaustion to discover and learn new things about them, and about the era in which they were minted.
Collecting ancient coins as a form of investment
Finally, we have another type of collector of ancient coins, who enters this world with the objective of placing his capital in pieces that will gain value over time. In this way, buying and reselling with the hope of making a certain profit.
Anyone can invest money by buying old coins.
However, most of those who engage in this form of collecting have a lot of capital, and are in no hurry to get it back once they have bought a coin for a high price.
It is also true, that they are collectors with a lot of knowledge and skills to detect investment opportunities. That is, to guess when any coin is going to increase in value over time.
What kind of coin collections can you make
Generally, depending on the type of collector you want to be, it will be the type of collection you will then prefer. I comment on this, because there are many different ways to collect ancient coins.
These are the most common types of ancient coin collecting:
Collecting coins by historical eras
You can select a historical period of your country, or of a country that you like very much. Then, dedicate yourself to searching for specimens that were minted between the beginning and end years of the selected historical era.
It does not have to be an extremely old historical period. That is, you are not obligated to collect ancient coins from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, or anything like that.
You can concentrate on more recent eras just fine. For example, you could concentrate on collecting Franco’s Spanish pesetas. That is, minted in the period known as the Franco era.
Collect coins by region or country
Another very common type of collection are those that take a country or region as the unifying motif for all the pieces collected. There are many collectors who prefer to focus on North American coins, or Mexican coins, or Spanish coins.
My recommendation is, if you are in it for making this type of collection, choose a geography with as broad a numismatic history as possible. For example, I would not like to collect antique coins from Uruguay, because the amount of designs and pieces available are limited compared to other latitudes.
Collecting PROOF coins
A very common way to collect coins is to focus on the PROOF quality pieces that many countries issue only for collectors. That is, they are limited editions of coins that are generally not circulated.
NOTE: I recommend you this article about PROOF Coins where I explain you many things about these. You need to read it right now.
An example of a PROOF coin collection are the famous valuable commemorative 2 Euro coins minted every year by the different countries of the European Union. Some of these pieces, despite being relatively recent, cost quite a lot of money.
Collecting coins by metal types
We are now getting into the higher level type of collecting. Especially, if you go for the gold and silver coins, which can get very expensive.
You should consider that all countries abandoned the practice of minting coins in precious metals quite some time ago. So, in most cases, we are talking about coins with a very high value, not only because of the metal they are made of, but also because of the historical load they have attached to them.
Collecting coins by series
A very specific way to collect coins is to do it by selecting a specific series, and try to collect as many pieces as possible to complete it.
For example, some collectors focus on collecting quarters, from a specific series, such as the US National Parks Quarter Dollars, or the Quarter Dollars America the Beauty series.
Another way to collect coins by series, is to select a particular issue, and collect specimens from all the years in which these were minted. For example, try to complete all the 5 peseta coins of 1949.
Collecting rare coins or coins with errors
Finally, there is a very specific type of collection, which is one that focuses on ancient or current coins that have errors. These types of coins tend to be extremely rare, and therefore tend to have a very high value.
It is important to clarify that by error is meant those items that are not in their original place or form.
Examples of errors in currencies are:
- A coin with sides that correspond to different coins.
- The sides of the coin are at an angle that is not usual.
- Design elements are missing, or there are others that should not be according to the original design.
As these errors are usually detected before coins are put into circulation, they are rare. Hence, they are considered rarities and, therefore, extremely valuable.
A coin with errors should not be confused with a mint proof, which are usually equally valuable; but are not unexpected.
Can the different types of collections be combined
The types of coin collections can be combined because they are not mutually exclusive. That is, you can collect gold coins, Roman coins of the ancient age. That is, coins of a certain metal, from a certain region, from a certain period of time.
Of course, the more requirements you impose on yourself to build your collection, the fewer specimens will be available. Two things can happen, either you complete your collection very soon; or you could stagnate and never complete it because of the impossibility of getting a specific, very specific piece.
Where to buy the first coins for collecting?
Now that you know the types of collections coin collectors tend to prefer, let’s review the most common places to acquire or purchase collectibles.
Pop-up markets or garage sales
Neighborhood markets, or the famous garage sales that are so popular in some countries, are excellent places to acquire old coins at relatively cheap prices.
The old coins you can buy at flea markets are excellent for getting started in the world of coin collecting without making a big investment.
Don’t expect to buy coins cheaply, and then sell them for thousands of dollars. These things only happen in fictional movies. Most of the really valuable coins are in the hands of collectors and experts who aren’t going to sell them at a popular neighborhood market.
Banks or mint
The next place where you can buy coins to start your collection, are banks or mints where they exist. In these places, you can buy commemorative coins, and start a collection of this type of pieces, almost always in PROOF quality.
Something you should consider, is that the amount of pieces to buy at the moment, for sure will be limited. Then you can buy the issues that come out each year. In this way, with time and patience you could build up a beautiful collection of valuable coins.
Third place where you can buy old coins, and sometimes modern coins, but from other countries, are pawnshops. Remember that pawnshops are often visited by people with financial problems, who leave belongings in exchange for a little money, and in the hope of getting them back later.
I am telling you, because you may find some interesting coins in these sites, but hardly one as rare and valuable as the ones you can find in the following site I am telling you about.
Online and offline auctions
The last place where you can find coins are the auction houses, either specialized in ancient coins or those that are generalists.
The advantage of buying coins from auction houses is that they almost always offer certified items, validated by experts, because they want to avoid problems and frauds.
The drawback is that the pieces offered in these auctions can be exclusive pieces, which reach high costs. Also, above the coin price you will have to pay the auction house’s commission.
In any case, it’s the ideal place to find those rare and valuable old coins that you’re unlikely to have access to elsewhere. Just be prepared to fork out some capital if you want to take some important pieces home with you.
When do you start your antique coin collection?
Now that you have some basic knowledge about the three basic questions to ask to get started in the world of collecting ancient coins, it’s time to take action.
That is, decide what kind of collector you want to be, and what kind of collection you’d like to put together.
Take some time to think about it, and after you’ve decided, go all in. I assure you that you are going to enter a wonderful world, full of pleasures and satisfactions.
If you already have an idea of the type of coin collection you would like to have, leave me a comment as I would love to know. See you in the following articles.