Coin collecting is a very popular hobby and is enjoyed by people from all age groups and across all works of life. In a nutshell, it is the collection and or trading of coins. Almost every coin collector has a type of coin they collect. Some coin collectors focus on coins that are still in circulation, some collect only coins minted with errors on them, some collect only old and valuable coins or coins that have some kind of historical importance.
You cannot talk about coin collecting without defining the term numismatics. It is a word closely associated with coin collecting, but it actually is the study of the collection of various items used as money.
A good place to start with your coin collection is with coins that are already in circulation. When you build your collection with such coins, you do not have to do a lot of searching to get your coins; it mostly involves paying attention to the change you get for any rarities in what was handed over to you by for example a store clerk.
Usually there is no risk involved in collecting coins in present circulation; in the worst case scenario you could just spend it. The only down side is that coins in circulation are usually damaged with scratches and dents here and there, and for them to be worth a lot of money, you will have to hold on to them for a very long time.
Another alternative when collecting currently in use coins is that once you have gained extensive expertise in the hobby, you can trade up, and obtain coins from other sources such as coin shops, online, auctions, coin shows, flea markets, from other collectors and buying directly from the US Mint. The good thing about buying directly from the US Mint is that the coins haven’t been in general circulation and therefore in very good shape.
The physical state of a coin plays a huge role on what it could be valued at. There is a market out there for almost any rare or obsolete coin, but like every other collectable the present condition of the item is very important. The value of a coin could greatly be affected by holes, dented edges, gouges and yes, even cleaning the coin if you don’t know what you are doing.
For the most part coins should be handled very carefully to avoid causing wear spots or color changes. Touching the coin surface with your fingers and leaving finger prints could be an issue, reducing its grade and value. Most experienced collectors do not touch uncirculated or proof coins anywhere but the edges. When such coins are been shown, it is advisable to place them on a velvet like surface.
Different collectors have different types of coins they collect, while some collect a little bit of every thing. Collectors can also purchase specifically made books for the purpose of collecting coins from every year.
Some collectors also focus on particular periods in history that they find interesting. Such periods include the Celtic, Byzantine, Merovingian, Ostrogothic, Parthian and ancient Roman periods. Other interesting periods include the medieval times and ancient Israel. Coins are also a reflection of the time in history when they were produced. Collections can therefore vary based on this criterion.
Coin collecting is a hobby that could easily become a very solid investment. If you have accumulated coins that are rare or coins that are made with precious metal such as gold or silver, they could be a source of income to the collector when they are eventually sold.