Coin collecting is more than just looking through pocket change. Certainly, some treasures can be found in your change. I have gotten nice wheat pennies and have even gotten some good examples of other coins as change upon checking out of a store with a new issue of a coin magazine. It seems that if a nice cashier sees that you are a collector, they will go through their drawer and pick out some coins for you. It’s always a good idea to make nice with the cashiers.
Coin collecting is also more than getting a cardboard penny holder folder and sticking pennies in them. I do like these coin books, however, and for a few reasons. These always seem to be the jump starting point for many collectors and they are spectacular for getting children started in collecting. This is how they learn. I remember my first coin books when I started collecting at about 12 years old and before that, I thought all pennies were created equally. I had no knowledge of mint marks or special coins or even that coins had different dates! They are a fantastic teaching tool.
Once you learn the various types of coins for collecting, it helps to expand your horizons on your collection. Let’s take a look at 10 types of coins.
1. Regular Issue
These are regular circulation coins minted to be used by the public for commerce. It’s money basically. The change in your pocket or purse is considered regular issue. In most cases, they are struck in significant quantities to have enough for change.
A tip: Many banks will let you buy rolls from them. Often times, these rolls are coming directly from the Mint. While these will be regular issue coins, what you will be getting is uncirculated coins. If your bank doesn’t have any on hand, you can ask them if they will order them for you. The fact that you are getting uncirulated coins for face value is the best deal you can get. Next time a new nickel comes out or a new state quarter, ask your bank about them.
Additionally, if you are looking for coins to fill your books or to add to your collection, buy rolls from your banks that are not new. I have heard of people buying rolls of pennies and getting some pretty spectacular examples. I have even heard of people buying rolls of half dollars and coming out with Franklin Halves and even Libery Halves. It’s worth exploring.
2. Proof Coins
Proof coins are struck specifically to be proofs. They have a mirror like finish due to being struck with more force and usually struck twice to gain the desired effect. These coins are legal tender but are usually sold as a collectable. These can be bought directly from the mint and often times come in sets for each year and mint mark. For example, currently the 2005 mint proof set can be had for about $38 and includes a penny, dime, dollar, all 5 state quarters from 2005 and 2 new nickels from that series. For that price, these sets are absolutely worth adding to your collections. Other years can usually be found at dealers or even online auction sites.
Rarely will proof coins be found in circulation though it’s not unheard of. They have also been found in rolls people have gotten at banks. My advice though is if putting proof sets in your collection, buy them in the sets. It’s easier and you have your whole set in one place.
Proof sets are excellent to commemorate a certain year, perfect for giving as gifts and necessary for collections. They are reasonably priced and easy to obtain.
These coins can be proofs or uncirculated and are not considered legal tender. They are designed and minted specifically as a collectable and are usually made of silver or gold. The most common demoninations are the half dollar or dollar done most often in silver while gold will have a $5-$10 demonination. They are minted to commemorate a specific person or event. In recent years, part of the proceeds of the sales of commemoratives have gone to a charity, organization or institution so not only are you buying a commemorative, part of your money is given to a worthy cause.
Error coins are regularly minted coins that come out with errors. These are usually discovered after they have left the mint. There are a few types of errors which include off center, double strikes, die breaks, blank planchets to name a few. A good example of these errors are the Wisconsin State Quarter. There are high leaf and low leaf varieties on the reverse design. These error coins are quite valuable among collectors going for, in the neighborhood, of $500. Pretty good investment if you got one in change or bought a roll when they came out.
These are minted in regular issue or in proof types. Not generally considered legal tender, they are usually sold near their melt value for the precious metal they are made of. Examples of this is the Silver Eagle which is 1 ounce of pure silver. I hold several of these myself and consider them to be very beautiful.
Bullion also comes in gold and platinum as well. Gold can be found in 1/20th oz, 1/10th oz, 1/4 oz and 1 oz due to the high price of gold. Buying gold bullion by the fraction ounce makes purchasing pure gold more affordable.
6. U.S. Colonial Coins
Before the U.S. was formed, each state had their own money. These would be very difficult to find and obtain and probably out of the reach of most budgets.
As a collector, most of your collection will likely come from regular issue or proof coins. Collecting is subjective. What you want your collection to be is where you will decide on one or two of these catagories. Starting out, I always recommend regular issue “pocket change” to get a feel for how to handle coins, how to store them, display them and learn about them.
Whatever you choose, coin collecting is a rewarding hobby and one that gives a sense of accomplishment when you are finally able to obtain the coin you have been searching for. I must warn you though, obtaining one coin does lead to the need for more.